Home | Industry+Policy | ‘Entitled to get a better job’: Turnbull on hypothetical aged care worker

‘Entitled to get a better job’: Turnbull on hypothetical aged care worker

“The 60-year-old aged care worker in Burnie is entitled to aspire to get a better job, is entitled to get a promotion, is entitled to be able to earn more money.”

This is the phrase Malcolm Turnbull uttered in Parliament question time yesterday that has drawn the ire of Labor and has aged care groups working again to boost the perception of the sector.

Turnbull was responding to questioning from Labor about the his personal income tax plans, in particular, to a query from opposition leader Bill Shorten about whether a hypothetical 60-year-old aged care worker in Burnie, Tasmania, should aspire to be an investment banker from Rose Bay to get a better tax cut.

Following his initial reply and some jeers from fellow politicians, Turnbull added: “No. Working in aged care is a good job, but you are entitled to seek to earn more.

“Every worker, every Australian is entitled to aspire to earn a better income.”

Shorten took to Twitter afterwards to say that same aged care worker “shouldn’t have to ‘get a better job’ to get a better tax cut, or a modicum of respect” from the prime minister.

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) took the statements as an opportunity to urge young Australians to aspire to a career in aged care, highlighting recent reports of high job satisfaction and demand for new blood.

Contrary to the views expressed in parliament, the aged care industry is made up largely of individuals who gain huge personal satisfaction from their efforts working tirelessly to improve the lives of older Australians, chief executive Pat Sparrow said.

ACSA pointed to a recent HESTA report drawing on the super fund’s more than 200,000 members working in the space.

While the report, Transforming Aged Care – reimagining the aged care workforce of tomorrow, found the aged care sector is facing a potential shortfall of 80,000 workers over the next five years, the majority (77 per cent) of workers surveyed indicated that they intend to remain in the sector for the long term.

HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said aged care employees spoke of how rewarding they found caring for Australia’s elders. “[They spoke] of special moments shared, of wanting to make a difference, or simply the power of being there to listen.”

In keeping with the demand for workers projected in the HESTA report, recent SEEK data revealed that jobs in community services & development was the second-strongest area of job ad growth in the year to April, 2018.

Healthcare experienced a 19 per cent increase in job ads in April compared with 12 months prior. SEEK put this down to substantial growth in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation, and aged care nursing job ads.

Sparrow said: “High demand for aged care workers is a stand-out feature of our labour market and will be one of the most durable trends in employment in coming decades.

“If young Australians aspire to a job that offers the rewards of genuine human care and contact as well as the bonus of a high degree of reliability in demand for their work into the future, then we urge them to aspire to a career in aged care.”

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now


  1. This shows the ignorance of politicians from both sides. Turnbull has no clue about our industry, and Shorten will tell us anything to get our vote. Neither can be trusted with Aged Care. Talks of reform, crisis and other negative comments are brought about, at least in part due to a lack of clear direction from governments over the past many many years. We have had review after review, reform after reform, cutback after cutback, and then we (Aged Care Providers) have our reputations damaged because the Australian public are losing faith and trust in what we do.

    Give good providers the tools and encouragement to keep innovating and providing excellent homes, Get rid of providers who have consistently failed accreditation, and stop focussing audits on whether providers have “ticked boxes and filled in forms correctly” which dodgy providers can easily overcome. What you can’t overcome is auditors who are well trained in looking behind the facades of fresh paint, new furniture, expensive trinkets, to see residents who are not living fulfilling happy lives, and after all, doesn’t care start with making sure the people you care for are happy and enjoying life??

    If positive changes are not made, how in the future will good quality, well trained staff want to work in our industry. We already see nurses choosing other pathways, PCW’s feeling devalued by inconsistent training, and without a government who actually gives a damn about us, we will never be able to turn this around.

    My message for politicians of all colours: Good leaders care for the people who care for their business, lets stop supporting those who simply refuse to support us…

  2. The Prime ministers comments about a 60year old Aged care worker was a moment of slip up in his theatrics against bantering with the leader of the opposition but an opportunity of where he declared how he really sees this worker (predominantly a women) and the Aged care workplace. He is not alone in this ignorance as most of our political leadership have ignored or dismissed doing anything to improve the sector for every stakeholder for years. Workers need all to be registered, not just the nursing staff, personal care workers too as they are the ones who predominantly fill this workforce. There also needs to be all workplace carer paths and incremental remuneration, not just force every one to become a Div 2. Holistic means not just medical! Cert1V ageing support and Cert1V leisure and health leadership. There needs to be a focus on the clients more than just legislative words and the capacity to in-force this focus other the current accreditation method that does not work, its broken and it is not sustainable. I would like a Royal Commission into the Aged care sector and I would like John Howard to be present to be accountable for his decision to privatise this sector and where we are today. Where is he now? Who will stand up and lead this discussion? The workers of this sector are waiting and so are the residents who every day we hear from their families quality is in some way diminished.

  3. This person maybe entitled to get a better job but there is nobody wants him because he is to old as I would love to work but nobody wants me because I am to old plus I look after my mother so wake up and come back in the the real life and stop thinking about yourself or is it to hard.

  4. If only we had more Indigenous people in Parliament. They *respect* their elders, and so such arrogance may not be an issue, and the field of Aged Care – and the residents who need it – would not suffer, as our indifferent self-centred ‘Hooray-Henry’ ‘government’ allows.