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Picture: Gary Ramage/NewsWire.

Aged care minister Anika Wells introduces reform to parliament

Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has become emotional speaking about two of her constituents in parliament on Wednesday.

The Lilley MP spoke about Pat and Jack Cook as she introduced the first of two pieces of legislation to make changes to the aged care sector.

Labor’s promise to reform the sector was a cornerstone of its election campaign.

“Pat and Jack Cook met in Cairns on Christmas Day in 1949. Pat said they were best friends from that day on. That simple,” Wells said in the House of Representatives.

Wells said she had been speaking with the Cooks about improvements to home care packages before returning to Canberra.

“In more recent years, Jack living with dementia received a home care package and I brought the now Prime Minister to meet Pat and Jack,” she said.

“We promised them that if we were lucky enough to get the support of the Australian people, we would do our best to ensure that aged care, including home care, gets better.”

She had told Jack the legislation was on its way the last time she saw him, but he died before she had the chance to introduce it.

Wells held up the Cooks’ wedding photo from 1951 in parliament – given to her by Pat – as she introduced an aged care bill to the lower house.

The bill contains many of Labor’s election policies on the sector including the mandating of a registered nurse to be onsite 24/7 at every aged care home from July 23.

It will allow the government to require facilities to publish their profits and spending on food, administration and nursing. It will also cap administration fees on home care packages.

Wells introduced a second bill to implement 14 recommendations from the aged care royal commission, including more oversight of providers and stronger governance.

It passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

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