Tense times: Commissioners asking the questions at latest home care hearings

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By Lauren Broomham

The latest round of hearings into home care proved to be a much more strained affair at times, particularly Thursday’s hearing which featured three Department of Health representatives.

Commissioners Richard Tracey was clearly becoming frustrated with the evidence being presented by some of the witnesses, particularly the Department of Health’s Deputy Secretary, Population Health, Sport & Aged Care Quality, Dr Lisa Studdert.

Several times Commissioner Lynelle Briggs cut in to ask a question, seemingly as much to defuse the apparent stand-off between Commissioner Tracey and Dr Studdert as to obtain answers.

Both Commissioners were also much more engaged in the hearing process this time around, sometimes asking more than 10 questions of the various witnesses.

Leading the majority of the questioning, Senior Counsel Assisting Dr Timothy McEvoy was often blunt in his observations which led to some strained exchanges.

This included asking Dr Studdert directly if the Department had been looking to “make an example” of home care providers by sanctioning them in the wake of the Royal Commission announcement in October 2018.

“I would absolutely reject that premise,” Dr Studdert stated firmly.

Will the next hearings follow a similar tack then?

The next formal hearings are scheduled to take place in Sydney Monday, 6 May 2019, and Friday, 17 May 2019.

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