Australian aged care homes would have a registered nurse on site 24 hours a day, staff would get a pay rise and residents would have better care under a $2.5bn overhaul promised by the federal opposition.
Anthony Albanese used his budget reply speech to pledge reform of the aged care sector, saying too many people were being left to suffer “unforgivable neglect” under a crisis that had occurred on the Coalition’s watch.
The Opposition Leader on Thursday night unveiled his alternative approach should Labor win the imminent federal election, which was scant on details of how plans would be funded.
Albanese vowed to improve the lives of Australians should he become prime minister, sharpening his message that a Labor government would introduce sensible policies to bring “renewal, not revolution”.
He was interviewed on the ABC’s 7.30 program later that night, where host Leigh Sales asked him if his speech was best described as “a lot of aspirational sentences”.
Albanese insisted there was “enormous detail there” despite having revealed no costings for any of the policies in the speech itself or a detailed plan of how to increase wages outside the aged care sector.
“I had half an hour. If I could have three hours I would go through the lot,” he said.
He said all of Labor’s policies were fully costed with the detail publicly available, with the aged care reform package “fully covered” at a cost of $2.5bn over the forward estimates.
Sales asked whether voters could judge Albanese’s prime ministership, if he was elected, on whether everyone got a pay rise in the next two years.
“Well, with respect I’m not so concerned about all of us, in terms of you or me. What I’m concerned about is vulnerable workers getting a pay rise,” Albanese said.
“I certainly am prepared to be judged on whether aged care workers get a pay rise. Absolutely.”
Albanese said Labor would support aged care workers to argue for a pay rise in the Fair Work Commission, but he hasn’t detailed the cost of any future government contribution to wages should they be boosted.
The Health Services Union — which is seeking a 25 per cent pay rise — last week threatened to withdraw funding and support from Labor’s election campaign if the party didn’t back its case in the industrial umpire.
Albanese told the ABC he was prepared to be judged if he became prime minister on whether aged care workers get a pay rise.
In his speech earlier, Albanese said a generation of Australians and their families were filled with dread at the thought of having send a parent to an aged care home, with more than half of all residents “literally starving”.
His promises for aged care include mandating that every Australian living in aged care receives a minimum of 215 minutes of care per day, as recommended by the royal commission into the sector.
The Aged Care Safety Commissioner would be given new powers to oversee the sector, while residential care providers would be forced to publicly report what they spent money on.
“Older Australians fear that the final chapter of their life will be an aged care facility where they are not properly cared for, let alone afforded real dignity,” Albanese said.
“If we want to change aged care in this country for the better, then we need to start by changing the government."Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]