This whole argument has degenerated into a very shabby attack on people who have genuine concerns about aged care in this community. I challenge the senators on the other side to attend some of the Senate estimates processes where senators from this side across the board, with some support generally from some of the people from the government as well, look painstakingly at the specific issues of aged care services in our community . If any of the senators who have been involved in this discussion from the government would care to go back and look at the questions that were asked of the minister today, they would see we were asking specifically about aged care services, about the number of beds that are available. In this case we were asking about Queensland, but the figures could be extended across the whole country. In my question to the minister, I asked specifically about bed opportunities for Queenslanders and the minister got up and had a go. I am not even going to attempt to define some of the terms that Senator Brandis just used because I am not sure how you spell them, let alone how you say 44 SENATE Monday, 11 September 2006 CHAMBER them. I asked about aged care beds that were currently available under the government's proposals in the Logan River area. I also asked about the south coast area. These are people, Minister. We are not talking about numbers that can be read out. We are talking about opportunities for people to have effective aged care in their communities.
The current situation using these figures indicates that, under the ratio and formula that the government has introduced through media releases across the country over the last few months-and we celebrated the introduction of this increase in availability of beds-the numbers of beds are at a low in the Logan River Valley area. In the suburbs of Woodridge, Logan, Waterford, Albert, Springwood, Beaudesert, Gaven, Redland, Capalaba-a lot of those suburbs had the chance to vote in Queensland and made their obvious awareness of their conditions of service known at the ballot box-there was a negative result of over 300 on the government's own expected figures of ratios of beds available. But even that looks pretty good in comparison with the south coast in the areas of Currumbin, Burleigh and Robina, which we know have an ageing population, where the demand for effective aged care is very high. It is not a new demand; it is a demand that everybody has known about for many years. In that area, under the government's determined ratio of bed availability, the government is falling short by almost 600 beds. That is not an argument just about numbers. The minister got up today and read off a whole range of figures which we have heard before when we have asked questions about what is happening with aged care. We have read the media releases that the minister puts out about budget initiatives. We have heard Senator Adams, again, talk about the range of initiatives that were brought in at the last budget. We are waiting to see them happen. We are waiting to see those services put in place. The members of the community have an expectation because they have been told by the government about the services that they are going to receive. The government have created an expectation. We are asking: where is the result? We do not want to get into some shabby discussion about election results. I think a few people have to take ownership for the way questions have been asked, and the responses made, in the weeks leading up to the state election in Queensland.
The minister today made two comments that I was particularly interested in. Amongst all the figures-and I have taken note of those as well-the minister in one response made these two statements: that Queensland has received 'more than its fair share' under the budget initiatives that he has ministerial responsibility for, and that 'Queensland has got what it deserves to get under the formulas'. I am interested to see whether we are going to get what we deserve to get under the formula or more than our fair share, but I would hope that the people, particularly in the areas of Logan River Valley and the south coast, would be able to expect that they will have access to beds for their aged relatives and for those of them who need it. We will not degenerate to the kind of shabby discussion that we have heard today and also in the process. We need direct answers to questions, not meaningless rhetoric. Question agreed to.
11 September, 2006