Today’s belated appointment of a Minister for Ageing vindicates the two year campaign by Labor and the sector for the Liberals to take this crucial portfolio seriously.
After two years of neglect by the Liberals, responsibility for Ageing will now be returned to the health portfolio after what has been an unnecessary, expensive and disruptive move by the Liberal Government.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to appoint a stand-alone Minister for Ageing, tacking responsibility for this vital sector on to the social services portfolio.
So did new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Now, two years after an expensive and disruptive move into the Department of Social Services, the Liberals are set to spend millions more returning Ageing to the Department of Health.
But Labor remains concerned ageing policy remains an afterthought for the Liberals after Malcolm Turnbull failed to appoint anyone to the role in his first ministry.
When the failure to appoint a Minister for the Ageing was first highlighted, newly appointed Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter insisted he had been given responsibility for Ageing.
“coming into my responsibilities will be disability services, and of course the NDIS, and also aged care.”
Christian Porter, ABC AM, 21 September 2015
Today’s decision highlights two wasted years, with the Liberals ignoring the fact that one of the key issues in health is the challenge of the ageing population.
That challenge has been exacerbated by the $60 billion in health cuts by the Abbott/Turnbull government and its ongoing assault on general practice and moves to raise the price of prescriptions and make it harder for patients to reach the Medicare Safety Net.
The real test for the Liberal Government will be whether it continues its shameful neglect of issues facing older people, abandoning those living with dementia, and avoiding important aged care workforce issues in an industry which employs millions of Australians.