The Nation's wake up call

The Commission of Audit is the nation’s wake-up call on the financial and structural challenges ahead of Australia with the ageing population, according to the Chief Executive of HammondCare, Dr Stephen Judd.

‘For years, through inter-generational reports and the work of the Productivity Commission there’s been much talk about the issues we face. It’s now clear that this is the time for tough decisions – and time to pay.’

However, he said – ‘this is not a story about the "tsunami" of the ageing population. It’s actually a triumph of modern health and medicine that life is longer and the quality of life for the vast majority of our population is significantly enhanced.

‘While governments are always in the firing line and expectations are always high on what government will do – it’s also time for Australians to face up to some cold hard realities.

Health for rich and poor

‘First, we have a world-class health system for which we should all be profoundly grateful. Not that long ago for many many Australians to be old was to be poor. We must not head down the track of a system that only exists for the rich – it must continue to be available to rich and poor.

‘Second, the generation of baby-boomers (of which I’m one) needs to rethink its view of "The Great Australian Dream". The highest level of home ownership in the country is in the generation aged over 65. We think it’s only fair to include the full value of the principal place of residence in the aged care means test. Do we really want a society where those who have assets are subsidised by those who don’t?

‘Our problem is that everyone wants someone else to pay the cost of caring for our older citizens. We welcome the conversation and the decision making process that the Commission of Audit has initiated.'

Report suffers some over-reach

Dr Judd said, ‘It also needs to be understood that the sky isn’t falling in. It’s clear that the Commission of Audit is part of a "softening up" process for some tough measures in the Federal Budget in less than two weeks’ time.

‘But there are ways in which this report suffers from over-reach. One example is the recommendation of a fee, or private insurance for aged care providers to cover the risk of defaulting on accommodation bonds. Now there are $12 billion worth of bonds which are already protected by prudential requirements. In eight years the accommodation bond guarantee has only been activated five times – at a cost of $25 million. So the risk that we are being warned to insure against is miniscule.’

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This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Commission of Audit Dr Stephen Judd (273 KB)