Sydney’s streets were thick with smoke as the blazes took hold on December 5 last year. That may explain why few noticed or cared about the final sitting day in Canberra, ABC News reports.
But what happened in the Senate that day shows just how strong the ties that bind the aged care lobby and government really are.
At 9.30 that day, some crucial amendments to aged care legislation were introduced which would force nursing home to reveal how they spent their $20 billion of taxpayer funds each year — specifically, how much went to staff, food and “the amounts paid out to parent bodies”.
Unlike hospital and child care centres, aged care facilities can employ as few staff as they like because there are no staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes.
When it comes to food, a study of 800 nursing homes shows the average spend is just $6 a day.
The Senate vote was taking place just five weeks after the scathing interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
When the crucial vote came, Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance and Jacqui Lambie supported it. But the Government voted against it and, with the help of Pauline Hanson, the reform was defeated.
It might seem an odd choice for Pauline Hanson, who has previously rallied against the aged care sector for “rorting and malpractice”, but it shouldn’t be surprising that the Government voted it down.
The aged care industry has been successfully lobbying governments for years. The influence of the industry through government committees, thinktanks and policies is well known and is being rightly questioned at the royal commission.
Supplied / ABC