Our Guardian Australia reporter Elias Visontay has this on the opposition Labor party’s call for a wider aged care royal commission.
Labor is asking the government to expand the aged care royal commission so it can further examine Covid-19 outbreaks in more homes including Victorian facilities.
Opposition aged care spokeswoman Julie Collins wrote to Scott Morrison on Thursday, requesting he direct additional resources to the inquiry, suggesting the introduction of a new commissioner specifically to look at Covid-19’s impact.
Collins’ request follows comments made by aged care commissioner Tony Pagone QC ahead of the commission examining Covid-19 outbreaks at aged care homes in New South Wales.
“It is important for the public to understand that this Royal Commission is not able, and is not intending, to conduct a full inquiry into that impact.
“We simply do not have the resources or time to conduct an inquiry that would do justice to the issues which have arisen so far and continue to change and develop. The issues associated with the impacts of COVID-19 in aged care warrant an inquiry of their own,” Pagone said.
In her letter to the prime minister, Collins said “the three-day hearing into the impact of Covid-19 was a starting point”.
“There is more to learn about Covid-19 particularly given the tragic events that have occurred in New South Wales and Victoria. Labor therefore respectfully request that you provide additional resources to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to inquire further into Covid-19.
“These additional resources could include appointing another Commissioner to inquire specifically into the impacts of Covid-19 so there are timely findings for the aged care sector to draw upon,” she suggested, adding an extra commissioner would help avoid any delays in the Commission’s final report being handed down on 26 February.
After pursuing the government over its aged care response to Covid-19 over the past sitting week, Labor is expected to continue to apply pressure on the topic.
It has called for aged care minister Richard Colbeck to be removed from the portfolio, and has also criticised the health department for failing to prepare a response plan for the sector – an accusation denied by the government.