Collins returns to aged care as Shorten takes on NDIS fight

Julie Collins says she’ll ensure the government responds appropriately to the aged care royal commission after being returned as shadow minister for ageing.

Labor’s Julie Collins has vowed to be relentless in ensuring the government responds appropriately to the work of the aged care royal commission after being returned as shadow minister for ageing and senior Australians.

Julie Collins

“With the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety set to deliver an interim report in less than six months, I will be relentless in ensuring the Government responds appropriately to the work of the Commission,” she said.

Ms Collins says Labor is committed to working with the government to deliver the recommendations of the Royal Commission, but couldn’t resist taking a dig at the coalition for failing to put new aged care minister Richard Colbeck into the inner ministry.

“Sadly, Scott Morrison failed the first test of ensuring older Australians are properly represented with senior Australians once again locked out of the Liberal Government’s Cabinet,” she said.

“In contrast, Anthony Albanese’s decision to ensure ageing remains in Labor’s Shadow Cabinet underscores our party’s commitment to this important area of policy.”

Ms Collins said she looked forward to working the Ged Kearney, who has been appointed Shadow Assistant Minister for Aged Care, as well as unions, aged care providers and peak groups.

“The next period of Government is a crucial time for the future of older Australians,” she said.

ACSA  welcomed the new shadow ministry and said the peak looked forward to working with Ms Collins and Ms Kearney.

“Julie Collins is an experienced Minister and Ms Kearney has worked in aged care in previous roles which makes both well placed to understand and respond to the challenges facing our sector,” ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said in a statement.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said Ms Collins and Ms Kearney had both supported its campaign to fix the aged care crisis, and it was  confident that Mr Albanese would ensure the ALP stood by its commitment to boost staffing levels in the aged care sector.

“As we know, Ms Kearney is a former nurse who was Federal Secretary of our proud union and in fact, 10 years ago, launched the campaign to introduce mandated ratios, so older Australians get the care they deserve,” the ANMF said.

Bill Shorten takes on NDIS portfolio

Meanwhile, former Labor leader Bill Shorten, one of the key drivers behind the National Disability Scheme, will take the fight to the new Minister Stuart Robert after being handed Labor’s NDIS portfolio.

Bill Shorten

Mr Shorten was parliamentary secretary for disability in 2007 when the scheme, a key Labor policy, was being set up.

It was introduced by the Gillard government in 2013.

Accepting his new job on June 1, Mr Shorten said he would work to put people with disability back at the centre of decision making.

“Working with people with disability, their carers and their families to create the NDIS was my first job in politics and remains one of the great privileges of my life,” he said.

Mr Shorten said underspends, staffing caps, excessive paperwork and “a plague of contractors” has undermined the effectiveness and original design of the NDIS.

“This great national enterprise cannot be cut, capped or delayed, or put at the mercy of consultants who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing,” he said.

“I’m determined to see the promise of the NDIS fulfilled and I’m going to give everything I have to making this great Labor initiative a reality for those who rely on it.”

Mr Albanese said after playing a critical role in establishing NDIS Mr Shorten would be “fantastic” in holding Mr Robert to account.

“There is no-one who is more committed, who is more connected up with the community than Bill Shorten with regard to (the NDIS)  and he’s really looking forward to the role and I am sure he will do it very well, indeed,” he said.

However Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who has a son with Down Syndrome and was also instrumental in setting up the NDIS, has called for a bipartisan approach.

“This should be a completely bipartisan position,” Mr Kelly told Sky News. “It should be a managerial role that makes sure we get as many resources, and get it as organised as we possibly can, and get the system running smoothly.

“Hopefully this is one area of policy where we can take out the partisan fight.”

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