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Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: NCA NewsWire/Andrew Taylor

Royal commission to extend into 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has granted the aged care royal commission’s request for an extension.

Originally meant to wrap up November, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will now deliver its final report by 26 February, 2021.

The three-and-a-half-month extension was due to the suspension of hearings brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Morrison said that reduced the commissioners’ ability to engage with stakeholders.

“While these delays have been caused by unprecedented circumstances, we’re committed to ensuring the royal commission has the time and resources it needs to do its important work,” he said.

Aged and Community Services Australia called the move “necessary”.

The peak’s chief executive Patricia Sparrow said: “There simply hasn’t been the time or capacity to properly investigate the solutions to the reform challenges that aged care faces.”

“We must properly investigate the reforms needed to ensure aged care is delivering the care and support older Australians need, including how we will pay for this as a community.

“Whatever funding model we end up with, it needs to be based on what older people need. We’ve only just been asked for input on funding models, so the extension is very welcome and a serious conversation is overdue.

Sparrow said she hopes the extension paves the way for a serious community-wide conversation about how to pay for aged care.

Sean Rooney, chief executive of Leading Age Services Australia, said the new deadline still allows the government to consider policy and funding changes ahead of the May Budget.

The announcement of the extension came with the news that acting commissioner Tony Pagone will be formally appointed as the chair of the royal commission.

He held the acting role since taking over as commissioner in late 2019 following the death of Richard Tracey.

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