In an election campaign characterized by ‘me-too’ announcements, a senior industry official has labelled the Prime Minister’s latest aged care policy a ‘me-neither’ policy.
John Howard unveiled a $250 proposal for health and aged care on the same day that the Aged Care Industry Council (ACIC) released an independent report revealing a $5.5 billion shortfall in aged care funding over the next twelve years.
The Prime Minister announced that if his government is re-elected, it will double the number of transition care places, provide an extra 1,000 community care places and give an extra $46 million over four years to existing aged care capital.
Mr Howard’s pledge to take the number of transition care beds from 2,000 to 4,000 represents a major change in the Coalition’s aged care policy.
The idea – originally suggested by the Opposition in its ‘New Directions for older Australians’ announcement in June – was heavily criticized by the Minister for Ageing, Christopher Pyne MP, in a debate with Labor’s Ageing Spokesperson, Senator Jan McLucas, at the Aged Care Association Australia in late October.
Mr Pyne said at the time that many of the existing 2,000 transition care places were not being taken up.
“Adding an extra 2,000 places seems rather peculiar to me when they are not being fully utilised now,” Mr Pyne said in the debate.
But Mr Mundy said both parties were ignoring the core issues.
“The announcement of 2,000 extra transition care places was a bit ‘me-too’ but in terms of the core issues – it’s a ‘me-neither’ policy,” he said.