Don’t count on a June PC report release

The long-awaited final report from the PC’s inquiry into aged care will not be made public upon its release in late June.

By Yasmin Noone

It may seem as though the release of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) final report into aged care is only a little over a month away but in reality, it could be much longer.

As confirmed by the PC itself, the final Caring for Older Australians report is now set to be delivered to government on Thursday, 30 June.

The report however will not become public until it is presented to parliament and tabled during a sitting session or an out of session presentation.
The government determines when this takes place but under the Productivity Commission Act, all inquiry reports must be tabled within 25 parliamentary sitting days after their initial release.

The PC advised AAA that a public release date could therefore be, at the very earliest, in July or at the very latest, at the end of September.

While there is no exact public release date for the highly anticipated document, the Minister for Mental Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, has stressed that the government will act “quickly” to respond to the report.

“The PC is due to hand down their final report probably in late June, and we’re talking now – or I’m talking particularly now to aged care stakeholders, about how we will develop a response very quickly to some of what I think are going to be very far-reaching recommendations from that Commission,” the minister said during a Lateline interview with ABC presenter, Tony Jones last night.

“Our aged care sector, the system is essentially 25 years old…It needs a very thorough overhaul.

“The Prime Minister also indicated that aged care reform is a priority for this term of government, and we intend to hold to that commitment.”

Mr Jones also questioned Mr Butler on the federal budget and the lack of new funding for aged care.

“…I sent a very clear message to the sector and I think they accepted this that we should not pre-empt the outcome of the PC process in this budget in a structural way,” the minister said. 

“There are some tweakings to aged care budget, for example, to vastly improve the position of aged care services that provide services for people who have previously been homeless. [There] are very significant changes there.

“But, by and large, I think it was agreed through the aged care sector that structural change, significant change to aged care funding and to the aged care system generally needs to go through an orderly process of consideration over the next several months.”

Mr Butler’s response came as no surprise, given his comments at a Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council’s Decision Makers’ Forum at Parliament House in March (reported upon by AAA, Bank on the PM & you bank on reform).

Although Mr Butler did build up the likelihood that the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, might inject new aged care funding into the 2011/12 budget, because he has a soft spot for the sector, he commented that Treasury “is not going to put things in the budget to pre-empt the PC”.

“The earth has not stopped rotating on its axis just because there is a PC inquiry into aged care.”

The minister, at the forum, also said that Mr Swan would be “torn” on the issue aged care funding, come budget crunch-time.

For information about how aged care fared in the 2011/12 budget, click here.

To read about the sector’s response to this week’s budget announcement, click here.

To watch the full Lateline interview, visit our YouTube page by clicking here.

Tags: aged-care, ageing, budget, lateline, mark-butler, productivity-commission, tony-jones,

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