Page 1020 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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New Year’s Eve activities and the like. I took an interest in the citizens receiving the gold recognition award—I put somebody up for one of those categories. I was not aware of the final outcome of the process, and whether the event was contained within material that was distributed on a mass basis or not, I am not sure. I did not receive an invitation to that particular set of proceedings, although I understand the Leader of the Opposition did. It would have been nice to have been there for part of that, knowing that that was on. I think that, if we are going to try and create some areas of recognition on a bipartisan basis, we should try to do that.

I have a particular interest in the needs of our older residents. That has been the focus of my activities since I was elected, and prior to the election. It is very important that governments do more than just recognise, for instance, duration of living in the city and so forth. It is fine to put out certificates, medals and the like but, when it comes down to it, it is the quality of life people enjoy. Sadly, there are areas for the older people in Canberra that have not been well met. Particularly in the area of aged care accommodation, the territory appears to be constantly playing catch-up through its failure to get things done.

It seems that the tardiness that has been a feature of this government’s capacity to make decisions has resulted in older people in our community losing facilities. Prior to my election there was the closure of centres at Narrabundah and Dickson, and we have seen extraordinary delays with new aged care beds being built for our older people. I know there was an announcement today of more aged care beds, but it is typical of the promises that come out. It often seems to divert attention from criticism for doing so little. If I could quote from the article today, it tells the story of, among the criticisms levelled at the government, waiting lists of hundreds.

Ms MacDonald: I wish to raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, you ruled before on standing order 58. I understand your ruling with regard to Mr Smyth, but Mr Mulcahy is referring to aged care provision. That has nothing at all to do with this matter of public importance. Could I ask that Mr Mulcahy please come back to the matter of public importance.

MR SPEAKER: Yes. I think one should remain relevant to the matter under discussion.

MR MULCAHY: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was talking about the older people and making sure that not only do we give them certificates and medals but that we also cater for their broad collection of needs and that, if we are going to recognise them, then we have to look at the total package of their needs. That is the scope of my remarks.

It has been recognised today in the press in the wake of these events on the weekend that, although these people might get measures of recognition, there are still hundreds waiting for accommodation at our 23 aged care facilities. My message to this government is that you ought to look more broadly at their needs. Those things are more complex but I believe that they in fact speak far more loudly about one’s genuine commitment to the needs of older citizens than do festivals, recognition and announcements of that ilk. Another example of where our older people could be better looked after, rather than simply through some of the public relations initiatives, is an issue I have pressed previously.

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