No conflict of interest: Minister

Justine Elliot has dismissed claims that the temporary ACC was an inappropriate choice.

Ageing Minister, Justine Elliot, has assured older consumers that the temporary Aged Care Commissioner has no conflict of interest.

Her comments came in response to concerns raised by the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW (CPSA) and Aged Care Crisis about Professor John Kelly’s temporary appointment last month.

The consumer groups said Professor Kelly had an inherent conflict of interest because he is a ‘non-executive’ director of private aged care provider, Riviera Health.

But the minister told Australian Ageing Agenda that Professor Kelly had taken appropriate steps to ensure his impartiality.

“Professor Kelly has provided me with documentation stating he [has] taken a formal leave of absence from all aged care work,” said Mrs Elliot.

“As is the case with past and future commissioners, the conflict of interest requirements [require] both the minister and the department to be advised should any conflict arise.”

The CPSA and Aged Care Crisis went public with their concerns after a member of the public notified them that Professor Kelly was listed as a ‘non-executive’ on Riviera Health’s website.

The CPSA’s policy manager, Charmaine Crowe said she hoped the government would take a different approach when choosing the next permanent Aged Care Commissioner.

“It’s very difficult not to believe that the aged care provider sector has a massive influence over the Department of Health and Ageing and their appointments,” she said.

“From our point of view, the commissioner needs to be absolutely separate from aged care providers.

“I am sure that there are many academics out there who would be able to fulfill this role effectively.

“What is needed is someone at arm’s length of the provider sector in aged care to ensure that the role is not compromised.

“That would be fairer for consumers, fairer for providers and it would give the public much more confidence in the role of the commissioner.”

Mrs Elliot said a merit selection process is currently being conducted to find the next full time commissioner.

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