Does ‘outsourcing’ mean privatising?
The Chair of the Royal Commission into Aged Care,Tony Pagone QC (pictured inset), took the extraordinary step last Tuesday of distancing the Royal Commission from comments made by the Aged Care Minister.
In response to the Government’s decision to merge the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) and Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) into a single “streamlined” service and put the service up for public tender this year, the Commissioner insisted on clarification.
Minister Richard Colbeck (pictured above) had told media the merger and outsourcing was supported by the Royal Commission.
Commissioner Pagone’s statement says otherwise. “I take this opportunity to make clear that the Interim Report did not endorse the Government’s stated position but noted that we would monitor with interest the implementation which the Government had announced,” he said.
“The Royal Commission considers that this integration needs to be progressed urgently,” he said, adding: “The work of Royal Commissioners is intended to be, and is, independent of Government.”
Minister Colbeck quickly backpedaled with his own statement.
“The Government has consistently refuted claims that our intention is to privatise the assessment process for aged care,” he said. “That assertion is incorrect.”
An awkward start for a year in which the Government will be expected to take on the Royal Commission’s recommendations when they hand in their Final Report in November.