The aged care ministry has been promoted to the highest level of government in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and amid repeated scandals in the sector and a royal commission.
The changes are part of a highly anticipated cabinet reshuffle, brought about by the departure of former finance minister Mathias Cormann. Much of the speculation centered on whether Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck would retain the role.
But the responsibility for aged care has been handed to Health Minister Greg Hunt. Minister Colbeck will retain responsibility for the delivery of home care packages and aged care regulation, as well as the role as Minister for Senior Australians, Youth and Sport.
Senator Colbeck has been under fire this year for his handling of the ministry, particularly when he could not say how many aged care residents had died during the pandemic during a senate inquiry.
“This is about elevating aged care into the Cabinet… because of the seriousness of this issue, the size and scale of the reform program that will need to be implemented post the royal commission,” the Prime Minister said.
It was not a demotion for Senator Colbeck, Morrison said.
“It’s not about the individuals,” said Scott Morrison at a press conference today.
“It’s about the care being provided to elderly Australians.
“It’s not about politics. It’s about people and ensuring we have the biggest and best response to the aged care challenges that are very serious.”
“Richard will continue to play a very important role in the response that the government brings together in response to the royal commission and being able to maintain the continuity and corporate knowledge that has been built up during a very challenging time.”
Minister Hunt will become the spokesperson for aged care, providing a fresh perspective during challenging times.
Elevating aged care to Cabinet level in the government was a previous recommendation of the royal commission.