07 February 2024

Tax cuts for aged care workers

Ms WELLS (Lilley—Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport) (14:47): I thank the member for Cunningham for her question and for her relentless advocacy to lift the standard of aged care in her community. The Albanese government knows that strong sustainable wage growth is a solution to cost-of-living challenges, not part of the problem. That is why, unlike the opposition, we backed aged-care workers in their submission to the Fair Work Commission for a pay rise and, unlike the opposition, we then delivered on that promise. We delivered a 15 per cent increase to the award wage minimums for 250,000 aged-care workers across Australia, an $11.3 billion commitment. Under the Albanese government, registered nurses are now taking home an additional $196 a week or more than $10,000 a year. Personal care workers are now taking home an additional $141 a week or $7,300 a year, and that pay rise is changing lives. Sarah, a personal nursing assistant working in the member for Pearce's electorate, told us that her pay rise means she has been able to save more money for her future. And this investment in aged-care workers is paying off because we are now seeing the quality of aged care in Australia improving. Under the Albanese government, older people are now receiving an additional 2.16 million minutes of care per day. There has been a reduction in the number of pressure injuries, there has been a reduction in the number of physical restraints, there has been a reduction in significant unplanned weight loss, there has been a reduction in falls, there has been a reduction in polypharmacy and there has been a reduction in the use of antipsychotics in aged care. We are also seeing improvements in the star ratings data, with fewer one and two-star rated aged-care facilities and more four and five-star rated agencies. We are recognising the sharp economic realities of 2024—that is, that household budgets are tight—and that is why, from 1 July, the Albanese government will deliver a tax cut for every single Australian taxpayer so that every taxpayer, including our aged-care workers, can earn more and keep more of what they earn. Ninety-seven per cent of aged-care workers will get a bigger tax cut under this scheme. Aged-care workers are overwhelmingly women, and they are overwhelmingly better off under this regime. Not only can a registered nurse working in aged care now take home an additional $10,000 a year under the Albanese government; they will now also get a tax cut of $1,679 from 1 July thanks to Labor's tax cuts. That's almost double what they would have gotten from the coalition. Australian taxpayers don't want the coalition's cost-of-living confusion. They want more reform of aged care.