The Prime Minister and Aged Care Minister are facing growing pressure in Parliament over the spread of coronavirus infections in aged care homes, with both men enduring a grilling in Question Time.
- Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has apologised for not knowing how many deaths had occurred in the sector
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said sorry over four serious outbreaks in aged care homes
- The Government maintains it did have an adequate plan to manage coronavirus in the aged care sector, despite the royal commission hearing otherwise
Scott Morrison has again apologised for failures in the Government’s handling of the aged care crisis, while the responsible minister, Richard Colbeck, offered his own apology in the Senate for not being able to say how many aged care residents had died of COVID-19.
It came after a questionable performance in front of a Senate committee last week in which he could not answer a question about the number of deaths in aged care homes.
“I should have had the data on Friday and I apologise for not having done that,” Senator Colbeck said today.
“To my colleagues [for] whom I have successfully taken the attention off of what it should be, which is our efforts to combat the virus, but also to the Senate. I should have had the information.
“My fault, my responsibility and I take full responsibility for not having that information available to me at that time.”
On Friday, Richard Colbeck could not answer a question about how many aged care residents had died.
Senator Colbeck said the aged care death toll now stood at 335, with seven people dead in home care and 328 dead in residential care homes.
There are currently 126 aged care homes with active coronavirus cases, all of them in Victoria.
While state and territory governments are responsible for on-the-ground responses to COVID-19 outbreaks, the Federal Government is charged with funding and regulating the aged care sector.
In the Lower House, Mr Morrison, who has previously apologised for the aged care system “falling short”, again said he was sorry to families and affected residents.
“In four [homes] the impact has been severe and completely unacceptable,” Mr Morrison said.
“Again, I offer my apologies to the residents and families of those affected in those facilities. It was not good enough.
“Investigations and reviews are underway as appropriate, including by the royal commission into aged care that I established.”
However, Mr Morrison again rejected suggestions the Government did not have a formalised and specific plan for the aged care sector in the pandemic, despite claims made in the aged care royal commission.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Senator Colbeck’s performance showed he was “not up to the task” of being a minister.
“I don’t know what it takes to lose your job on the frontbench of this Government,” he said.