GRACosway Weekly Wrap Up: PM promises to shine a light on aged care
21 September 2018
- The Government has announced a Royal Commission into the quality and safety of aged care in Australia.
- The Government has responded to the strawberry contamination crisis by expediting new legislation increasing penalties for those responsible.
- Federal Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis has announced she won’t recontest her marginal seat at the next election.
- A Senate committee inquiry has found that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton misled Parliament over his handling of visas for au pairs.
- High profile candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps has confirmed she will run in the Wentworth by-election.
Royal Commission to probe aged care sector
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the Government will establish a Royal Commission into the aged care sector in Australia. The Royal Commission is expected to primarily focus on the quality and safety of care provided in the residential and home aged care sectors, but will also include younger people with disabilities living in residential aged care settings. Mr Morrison said he had been shocked by a disturbing trend of non-compliance and failure in the sector and warned Australians that they should prepare to hear “bruising” revelations of abuse and neglect during the Royal Commission. Labor has welcomed the move, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saying the probe was overdue, while also highlighting concerns about funding cuts and low wages and staffing levels in the sector.
The terms of reference for the Royal Commission are expected to be finalised over coming weeks, with a period of consultation now underway with sector stakeholders and the wider public before the final letters patent are delivered to the Governor-General. The Royal Commission is expected to kick off before the end of this year and last until at least the second half of next year.
Government responds to fruit contamination crisis
The Federal Government has moved this week to respond to the ongoing fruit contamination crisis sweeping the country, with the urgent passage of legislation increasing the penalties for individuals found guilty of contaminating food. Legislation was expedited through both houses on Thursday, including the introduction of a new offence of reckless contamination, which carries penalties of up to 15 years’ jail time. Prime Minister Morrison said the laws were important to reassure the public of the safety of their food, while also denouncing those responsible as “cowards” for putting the livelihoods of fruit growers at risk.
Another female Liberal calls time
Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis has confirmed she will not recontest her ultra-marginal NSW seat because of alleged bullying and intimidation inside the Liberal Party. Rising in the House of Representatives on Monday evening following her announcement, Ms Sudmalis went on to use parliamentary privilege to accuse her state Liberal colleague Gareth Ward of running a campaign against her. Ms Sudmalis holds her NSW South Coast seat by a margin of less than one per cent. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday requested that the Federal Executive of the Liberal Party consider a formal complaints handling process to deal with concerns put forward by party members and MPs.
Senate committee finds Peter Dutton misled Parliament over au pair affair
The Senate Committee investigating Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s granting of visas for au pairs has found that Mr Dutton misled the Parliament by wrongly denying personal connections to those involved in the cases. The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee – dominated by Labor and the Greens – released its report into the matter this week, saying Minister Dutton did not disclose direct contact with those wanting him to grant visas to two au pairs and that he misled the Parliament when he said he had no existing connections to the au pairs’ employers, one of whom was a former police colleague. Minister Dutton dismissed the committee report, saying it was nothing more than a “witch hunt” that relied on a “discredited” witness, former Border Force Chief Roman Quaedvlieg. Greens MP Adam Bandt attempted to move a motion of no confidence in Mr Dutton yesterday, however it was narrowly defeated in the House of Representatives 68 votes to 67.
Phelps in the fight for Wentworth
High-profile GP, former President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and current City of Sydney Councillor Dr Kerryn Phelps has confirmed she will run as an independent candidate in the October 20 Wentworth by-election. Dr Phelps said she would bring back integrity, stability and common sense to the Parliament and promised to run on a platform of action on climate change, public health and the humane treatment of asylum seekers. Dr Phelps has promised not to be a destabilising influence if elected, an outcome that would see the Government lose its one-seat majority.
The NSW, South Australian and Tasmanian Parliaments will sit next week. Budget Estimates will continue in South Australia.