Mark Butler divided; election and ministerial shuffle just makes life harder for aged care and retirement village sector

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Everything is wrong for the retirement village and aged care sectors with the Federal government announcements of the past week.
Think about it. The election was due in November but now it is two months earlier in September. Both the aged care sector and the retirement village sector have new CEO advocates just getting their feet under their desks in Canberra but it is now likely they will have little impact for at least 18 months. In effect they have nobody with time to talk to them, a major frustration given that in an election year they should be able to extract the best promises for the sector.
In a double whammy this weekend the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, has had his portfolio expanded to include Housing and Homelessness – big portfolios. He now looks after aged care and all forms of housing with an election in eight months. We doubt he will have any time for any innovative or risky initiatives. In fact the pressure will be to contain expenditure no matter what.
He has also been at loggerheads with ACSA and LASA over ACFI funding and the watering down of the Productivity Commission recommendations, and now he is the ‘go to’ Minister for the new Executive Director of the Property Council’s Retirement Living Council chapter covering retirement villages.
Assuming that Labor will lose the election, new Ministers for Ageing and for Housing will be appointed three months before Christmas, so no effective dialogue is likely before April 2014 and for policy until six months after that. In between will be a budget that the Conservative government will be taking the one off opportunity to slash costs.
It should be noted the Minister for Ageing portfolio has never been respected. The Howard government had nine Ministers for Ageing in 12 years [the last being Christopher Pyne for six months]. In Labor’s time Kevin Rudd appointed Justine Elliot who was then dropped for Mark Butler. Interestingly Justine Elliot was demoted this weekend, relinquishing her role as Parliamentary Secretary for Trade.


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