Aug 27, 2018

What will new Prime Minister mean for aged care?


Last Friday, Scott Morrison became Australia’s 30th Prime Minister, and our sixth Prime Minister in only 11 years.

Now that the political wrangling is over, at least for the time being, we take a look at the impact the change of leader might have on the aged care sector. 

Coming from the role of Treasurer, and being politically aligned with Malcolm Turnbull, it’s unlikely the new Prime Minister will cause seismic changes in government. But there will be change, and here we take a look at the early changes under the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

Encouraging older Australians to remain ‘aspirational’

In one of his first speeches as Prime Minister, it was reassuring that Mr Morrison identified aged care was one of his highest priorities. The aged care sector is in the midst of huge change addressing concerns about quality of care, and will be of growing importance as the population ages in the decades ahead.

We know that Mr Morrison sees Australia’s ageing population as an opportunity, rather than the burden it is sometimes perceived as.

Speaking recently at a conference, he said older Australians should be encouraged to remain aspirational as they age. He said older people should not be viewed as an “economic curse” on society, but rather an “opportunity”.

While these views underpin the government’s ‘More Choices for Longer Life’ package, they also reflect Mr Morrison’s own personal view of ageing and indicate the direction the government is likely to take the aged care sector.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney said, “I am confident the Prime Minister will be a passionate advocate for the care of older Australians and will work hard to ensure that meeting the needs of older Australians is not framed as a burden to be borne, but rather an opportunity to be realised.”

Key ministers retain their portfolios

Mr Morrison’s reappointment of the two key aged care ministers was also reassuring.

Greg Hunt retained the position of Minister for Health, and Ken Wyatt retained his portfolio, though it was broadened to the portfolio for Senior Australians and Aged Care. Mr Wyatt also retains the portfolio for Indigenous Health.

Mr Rooney said he was “pleased” Mr Morrison had “recognised the growing needs and complexity of issues regarding an ageing Australia” by expanding Minister Wyatt’s role to encompass Senior Australians and Aged Care.

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) welcomed the news that Mr Hunt and Mr Wyatt had been reappointed to their Ministries.

“We welcome the continuation of Ministers Hunt and Wyatt in their portfolios,” said ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow.

“ACSA has been working closely with them to ensure the aged care industry is able to provide the services older Australians want and need now and into the future,” she said.

Ms Sparrow called on the government to address “funding shortfalls” so the industry can “provide compassionate and quality care” and meet Australia’s future aged care needs.

She also said additional home care packages also need to be rolled out to address the growing waiting list.

Disappointment aged care portfolio not elevated to Cabinet level

Mr Rooney said he was disappointed the Aged Care portfolio was not elevated to Cabinet level, to increase its profile in government at a time when the industry faces significant challenges and change.

“The issues of ageing and aged care are of national importance and we need to engage all Australians in what it means to age well in our country,” said Mr Rooney.

Mr Morrison’s greatest challenge

Mr Morrison will face many challenges in his role as Prime Minister, but none is likely to be as challenging as the job of restoring unity to the Liberal Party.

Image of Scott Morrison: ABC.

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