SUNDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2022
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: There's a full blown crisis right now in aged care with hundreds of older Australians dying but all the Government can talk about is whether Scott Morrison is a liar and a hypocrite. Last week alone 140,000 shifts in aged care went unfilled but the Government's too busy fighting each other to fight for the wellbeing of all of those older Australians who are missing out on that care. What it means for them is medications that aren’t delivered, wound care not provided, food and water not provided when they need it. Tens of thousands of older Australians locked in their room isolated from each other, from their family and visitors. And most tragically, more than 600 older Australians losing their lives to COVID in aged care in just the five weeks just gone by. Everyone knows what needs to be done to fix this crisis but the Government is too focused on its own divisions to do that job. We know we need better supply of rapid tests and PPE. It is extraordinary, two years into this pandemic, that aged care staff are still not provided with all of the PPE they need to do their job that is properly fitted. We know we need a workforce strategy, 140,000 shifts last week went unfilled but the Government’s surge strategy filled only 1,000 of those shifts – 1,000 out of 140,000. And the Government needs to fix its debacle of a booster rollout in aged care, 60,000 aged care residents at least still not boosted and 60 per cent of aged care staff still not with a booster shot. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Obviously, there has been a lot of questions raised about Mr Morrison’s character this week. He's passing this off as a Canberra bubble issue, essentially saying Australians care about other issues. Does he have a point there?
BUTLER: Australians care about a Prime Minister who can't do his job. Too often we've seen this Prime Minister refuse to listen to advice. Refuse to take responsibility for acting to protect Australians, including right now in aged care. He hasn't listened to advice on vaccines, on rapid tests, on aged care responses. And when things go wrong, he always tries to blame someone else not taking responsibility for his mistakes, and most concerningly perhaps he hasn't learned from his mistakes. We see history tragically repeating itself in aged care right now because he's refused to learn from his previous mistakes. I’ll leave it to his closest colleagues to make the assessments they’ve made over the last week or so. What I'm focused on is Scott Morrison's failure to do his job and the price that Australians, including right now vulnerable older Australians, are paying for that failure.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it will be Scott Morrison leading the Coalition through the campaign?
BUTLER: That's a matter for the Liberal Party and the Coalition party room. I will say this about Barnaby Joyce, he says that he offered the Prime Minister his resignation as Deputy Prime Minister and he knows that it's not the Prime Minister in a Coalition Government who determines who is Deputy Prime Minister, It's the Nationals party room. So if Barnaby Joyce is true to his word, and has real courage of conviction over the next couple of days he’ll offer his resignation, not to Scott Morrison, but to the Nationals party room that actually determines who is Deputy Prime Minister of this country.
JOURNALIST: Just another issue, a lot of talk today around opening Australia's border to international tourists. The Prime Minister just gave remarks a short time ago mentioning that the biggest issue is making sure that the hospital system is ready for it. As it stands do you think we are?
BUTLER: I think everyone will welcome international borders being open to tourists and other visitors when that can be done safely. I think though, the Novak Djokovic scandal showed that this Government has lost control over its ability to implement good health and vaccine checking arrangements at our borders. So Australians, of course want to see our borders open to international tourists when that can be done safely but I think there's a real loss of confidence in Scott Morrison's ability to do that.
JOURNALIST: Do you think we're ready now?
BUTLER: Scott Morrison has got to show he can do better than he did with Novak Djokovic. That was a complete scandal showing that only once someone has a visa and gets to an airport are their hours and hours of checking over whether someone has satisfied the proper vaccine test. If you apply that at a mass scale the borders at our airport will be the utter chaos.