This second Budget for 2022 responds to the priorities of the newly elected Albanese Labor Government and changing economic circumstances. The Budget keeps the promises Labor made to older Australians in the election and has gone further in some areas. We see and appreciate the COVID pandemic is still impacting the Budget especially the Health and Aged Care portfolios.
The economic goal in the Budget is to reduce inflation as soon as possible. The Budget forecasts inflation reducing from 7.75 percent this year to 3.5 percent in 2023/24. This will help older Australians on fixed incomes and will protect the real value of retirement savings. The commitments made for aged care reform are funded, building on the previous Government’s package of measures to implement most of the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission. Measures that had only been funded in the short term were extended. New funding allocated to election promises includes extended aged care hours, requiring 24 hour nursing cover, improving transparency, and improving the quality of food in both residential and home care.
Beyond aged care, there are initiatives in health, digital skills, housing, social services, and a return to a Women’s Budget Statement. These initiatives, whilst modest, are worthy of analysis because they signal the Government’s intentions. These are clearly areas where we are likely to see more substantial announcements in the future.
COTA Australia looks forward to working with the Government to improve the position of older Australians. We are pleased to see the bipartisan agenda for a better aged care system will continue. The momentum for aged care reform since the Final Report of the Royal Commission is a credit to the successive governments, the public service, and to the peak consumer organisations working closely with government. Many reforms are underway now, some are already in place while others will take some time to be fully in effect, and others and others are scheduled for a up to a couple of years away and will take longer to achieve. Maintaining the will to fix the aged care system across Parliament and the community is essential, if reform becomes a partisan issue, there is a real risk it will not be achieved.