New cabinet sparks new hopes among public sector advocates

By Tom Ravlic

June 1, 2022

Mark Butler
Health minister Mark Butler. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Associations and industry bodies have used the appointment of the new Albanese cabinet to highlight their causes in the hope it will catch the eye of the new minister responsible for looking after their turf.

Australian Private Hospitals Association chief executive Michael Roff has flagged to new health and aged care minister Mark Butler that there is a bunch of issues to deal with when it comes to the health systems.

Roff said staff shortages across the system need to be dealt with so that people with important surgery can get it done.

“Mr Butler is taking on the health care portfolio at an important time for the sector, as elective surgery backlogs continue to escalate and the workforce shortages affecting the entire health and aged care system,” Roff said.

“The private hospital sector alone has a shortfall of 5,500 nurses and urgently needs at least 1,000 skilled migrant nurses. We want to work with the new federal government to enhance incentives for nurses to come to Australia – by improving residency options and reducing the red tape from the process.”

Roff said that the private hospital system has a key role to play in training the local health workforce and that the private hospitals would like to talk further about how this could be expanded with the new minister.

Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean also piped up about the election of the new government, in a media release timed to coincide with the swearing-in of the ministry.

“With greater policy certainty, funds are able to deliver more to members’ nest egg — giving Australian workers more control over when they finish work and more choices about how they live in retirement,” Dean said

“Super has been a boon for millions already but it’s not perfect and there are long-standing issues that the government needs to address to make sure that more women and low-income earners get a fairer go.”

The Council for Homeless People has also used the day of swearing-in to highlight the need for more social housing given the rental crisis in Victoria and Labor’s commitment to new housing.

Council chief executive officer Jenny Smith said that more people are being pushed to breaking point.

“Even before these most recent increases, more than a third of renters in regional Victoria feel the pinch every week when they pay rent,” Smith said.

“People will make every other household budget cut before they miss rent — that means skipping meals, shivering through winter with the heating off, or forgoing study and social opportunities. People will stay on in unsafe homes rather than leave if they can’t see a way to afford rent for their families on their own.”


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