Leaders go head-to-head over aged care at debate

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Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have clashed over aged care at the first leaders’ debate in Brisbane ahead of the May 21 Federal Election.

The Labor leader raised the spectre of unscrupulous executives driving luxury cars in a call for more transparency and accountability in the sector, which forms part of the Opposition’s five-point aged care plan.

“We want to make sure that every single dollar that goes in, we know where it’s going to. Not going to profits for someone to buy a new Maserati, but going to better food and better care,” he said.

Mr Albanese also recommitted to 24/7 registered nurses in aged care homes, saying Labor would commit to “putting nurses back in nursing homes” and pointing out that 80% of aged care nurses are part-time.

“I think most people would be surprised that there aren’t nurses in nursing homes right now because it seems so fundamental, it seems like such common sense. We need to make sure that occurs,” he said.

The PM said implementing 24/7 registered nurses would not currently be sustainable, saying the Government can’t “make nurses fall out of the sky”.

“If you go and make a standard of 24/7 nurses, because you asked me about rural and remote nurses, if you make that the standard in aged care facilities right across Australia right now, then you will be closing aged care facilities in rural and regional communities right across the country.

“Nutrition is important and care is important, we are training more nurses and we need to train more nurses. But aged care is complex and difficult, there are no simple solutions, you can’t all of a sudden say that there’s going to be all of these nurses to go in there, because if you make it a standard, then you have to hold to that standard,” he said.

Labor’s push for transparency and accountability in aged care has been applauded by advocates such as COTA Australia.

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