The Lamp Federal Election 2022 edition

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THE MAGAZINE OF THE NSW NURSES AND MIDWIVES’ ASSOCIATION FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

A REFERENDUM ON AGED CARE

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022

CONTENTS 04

06

08

10

12

14

16

18

AGED CARE

AGED CARE

A dereliction of duty

Last chance for aged care

AGED CARE STOP PRESS Albanese promises our elderly hope and respect

PUBLIC HEALTH FUNDING Coalition resists fairer funding split

CLIMATE CHANGE

Unchecked climate change ‘catastrophic’ for health

TAX

Tax avoidance rife despite COVID burden

AGED CARE

What we want in aged care and what the parties are offering WAGES

Pay battles expose Coalition’s contempt for wage justice

20

GET INVOLVED

Six things you can do to make a difference

THIS FEDERAL ELECTION STAND UP FOR AGED CARE 2 | THE LAMP ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022 MESSAGE FROM NSWNMA GENERAL SECRETARY

For the health of the country, things must change In the last three years, Australia has been devastated by emergencies that have had an incalculable impact on the country. Bushfires of breathtaking scale and intensity, unprecedented floods, and the worst public health emergency in a century have exacted an enormous toll on our communities. Nurses and midwives have been called to action like never before, to care for the victims of these catastrophes and to protect the community at large. Your efforts have been heroic; even more so considering the glaring deficiencies in the public health and aged care sectors that we have been bringing to the attention of governments for more than a decade. COVID, in particular, has exposed how these sectors have been run down over a long period and starved of resources – especially staff – by a succession of negligent governments. Over the last three years, while your efforts have been stellar and rightly appreciated by the community, the opposite has to be said of the governments responsible for public health and aged care. Three sickening images come to mind that encapsulate the lack of leadership, seriousness and sense of responsibility that was needed to govern the country through these difficult times. First, Prime Minister Scott Morrison relaxing in a Hawaiian shirt during an overseas holiday

while the country was literally in flames. Second, aged care minister Richard Colbeck enjoying himself at a cricket test instead of fronting up to a COVID-19 senate committee that was grappling with the implosion of the aged care sector under the weight of the pandemic. And third, Premier Dominic Perrottet swilling beer in a pub as part of a PR stunt to announce the lifting of restrictions in NSW – just as Omicron was about to surge.

The experiences of the last three years show that the economy suffers too – and enormously – when there is no preparation for health or climate emergencies and when our health system is overwhelmed.

INFRASTRUCTURE LEFT TO ROT

From now to the election, I would urge you to get involved and engage with your friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues about what is happening to our health and aged care systems. n

These images are symbolic of something more profound and unsettling. Australia’s infrastructure has been left to rot, including in health and aged care, and our political incumbents seem incapable of grasping this fact let alone providing a vision to fix it.

As nurses and midwives we can make a big difference. As professionals at the frontline we have a voice on health and aged care that is deeply respected by the public.

This federal election is an opportunity for accountability and a fresh start. We need a government with the vision and political will to build a robust, well-resourced public health system that will be able to provide safety for Australians in the face of health threats, which we have to acknowledge are likely to keep coming. We also need an aged care system that puts the needs of the elderly first. Now with a major commitment from a major political party to mandate the ratios we need in aged care to keep our residents safe, I feel hopeful that this neglected sector will receive the reform it desperately needs (see p10).

‘We also need an aged care system that puts the needs of the elderly first.’ — NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 AGED CARE

Last chance for aged care This federal election is an opportunity to fix the fundamental weaknesses in the aged care sector. All NSWNMA members can play a role as we pressure all political parties to address the issues we have been campaigning on for more than a decade. What has come to light over the last two COVID-filled years about the state of aged care has been terrifying. Even before COVID, the aged care sector was in a profound crisis. The consequences of that neglect have been tragic and deadly. Since the pandemic arrived on our shores, over 15,000 aged care residents have caught the virus and more than 1700 of them have died from COVID. Over 18,000 staff have been infected. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was clear about the fundamental weaknesses of the system, which left residents and staff exposed. “Quality and safety cannot be achieved without the sector having enough staff with the skills and time to care,” it said in its final report. It recommended that every residential facility should have at least one registered nurse on site 24 hours a day. This effectively endorsed the NSWNMA’s stand on the issue prosecuted over more than a decade.

A GOVERNMENT INCAPABLE OF LEARNING Into the third year of the COVID crisis, despite the warning signs, cautionary tales and failures, the Morrison government has consistently failed to learn the most obvious lessons. Inconceivably, more than 700 aged care residents died in the first six weeks of this year. NSWNMA members and residents are still exposed and vulnerable to new variants such as Omicron and subvariant BA-2, said Assistant General Secretary Shaye Candish. “Our members are reporting a staffing crisis, a lack of access to suitable PPE and substandard infection-control practices. Some aged care facilities are being forced to ration rapid antigen tests, only using them every 72 hours because of limitations to supply,” she said.

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Shaye said that after decades of commissions, inquiries and reports, it’s now or never if real change is to be won in the sector. “It is only nurses’ commitment and goodwill that has held our aged care system together, and it will be our collective actions that can bring change. “Without pressure we won’t get the changes we need to see, just another level of bandaids. We need to make sure all the political parties understand that this is a voting issue in their communities in this federal election,” she said.

THE ELECTION SHOULD BE A REFERENDUM ON AGED CARE Shaye said the ANMF and the NSWNMA have started a paid advertising campaign leading up to the election, highlighting the parlous state of the sector and presenting our solutions to fix it. Members will also be active on the ground and in social media, pushing our case out to the community, she said. “Nurses have been vocal and active for a long time fighting and advocating for residents and their families. COVID has confirmed the truth of that campaign. Now we need to make one last push to force whoever becomes the government to do the right thing by our elderly.” We are not alone. Many others in the sector see the election as a time for accountability and change. Aged care researcher Dr Sarah Russell said the “lack of leadership” and the “hands-off approach” of the federal government and its regulator during the pandemic “has had heartbreaking consequences for many residents and families around the nation”. “Sooner or later, our federal government must be held to account for the numerous preventable tragedies that have occurred in the aged care sector.”


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

‘Sooner or later, our federal government must be held to account for the numerous preventable tragedies that have occurred in the aged care sector.’ — Dr Sarah Russell, aged care researcher

The consequences of political incompetence Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been:

1998

residential aged care facilities hit by a COVID outbreak

2762

outbreaks at residential aged care facilities

15,496

‘In this election we need to make one last push to force whoever becomes the government to do the right thing by the elderly.’ — Shaye Candish

resident cases

18,095 staff cases

(Figures to 4 February 2022, Australian Government Department of Health)

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 AGED CARE

A dereliction of duty At every stage of the pandemic, the Morrison government has failed to learn from its many mistakes and has never produced an effective plan for aged care that would protect our vulnerable elderly. In October 2020 the aged care royal commission produced a special report on COVID-19 and aged care. It was scathing of the government’s lack of a dedicated plan or clear leadership in the handling of the emergency, despite aged care residents being identified as a high-risk group. Before COVID-19 hit Australia, evidence was mounting overseas that the coronavirus was taking a disproportionate toll on aged care residents. More than half of the deaths in many European countries and in many American states were residents of nursing homes. Despite these warnings, when COVID-19 arrived in Australia the aged care sector was woefully unprepared – with tragic and devastating consequences. On 4 March 2020, Dorothy Henderson Lodge became Australia’s first COVID-19 cluster, after one of its employees contracted the virus. Three of its residents were among the first four people in Australia to die from the coronavirus. In April 2020, 37 residents tested positive and 19 of them died in a COVID outbreak at Newmarch House – an aged care facility in Sydney – after a staff member worked a shift while infectious. By the end of 2020 there were 685 deaths from COVID in aged care facilities.

NO-ONE IN CHARGE In its COVID report, the aged care commissioners said the government’s actions had been insufficient to ensure the sector was fully prepared for the pandemic. It also said it was surprising that the circumstances of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge and Newmarch House outbreaks had not been investigated. All too often, the commissioners said, families, providers and aged care workers “did not have an answer to the critical question: Who is in charge?” 6 | THE LAMP ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE

The report made clear the government’s response to the pandemic in nursing homes was developed largely without input from aged care experts. That included the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF). Counsel assisting the royal commission pointed to the lack of consultation with aged care workers’ representatives in April and May, during the development of a visitors’ code for COVID-19. They also cited the federal Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, which had 13 members but none of whom represented aged care workers.

BUNGLED VACCINE ROLLOUT When effective vaccines were developed at the end of the pandemic’s first year, hopes were high that they would afford protection for aged care residents and staff. In February 2021, Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt and Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck gave a joint media conference and promised that aged care workers would be the highest priority and would receive easy access to vaccines in their workplace. They promised that they would all be vaccinated within six weeks of the rollout’s commencement on 22 February. But federal Department of Health data showed that by the end of June, two-thirds of aged care staff nationally had not received a single dose of vaccine. Promised in-reach teams failed to materialise and workers were forced to use leftover Pfizer vaccinations not used on residents. The government also promised to set up pop-up vaccination centres for workers, which did not eventuate for months and then only in a handful of locations. The government then told aged care staff to secure their own vaccinations, either from their GP or from a public vaccination hub. Another 282 aged care residents died from COVID in 2021.


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

ALWAYS TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE In the first six weeks of 2022, 742 people died in aged care homes across Australia. The outbreak of Omicron peaked in late January, when the virus was reported in more than 1200 aged care homes around the country. Experts highlighted two government failures that left aged care residents and staff vulnerable: the “stroll out” of vaccine boosters and the scarcity of rapid antigen tests. Dr Kerryn Phelps was one of the authors of the OzSAGE report that was scathing of the federal and NSW governments’ “Let it rip” strategy implemented immediately prior to the outbreak of Omicron. She told The Guardian that “the only example Australia is providing to the world now is a warning about what not to do with the COVID-19 pandemic”.

COVID deaths in aged care during the pandemic

685

COVID deaths in 2020

282

COVID deaths in 2021

877

COVID deaths in 2022 (up to 10 March)

‘The only example Australia is providing to the world now is a warning about what not to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.’ — Dr Kerryn Phelps, OzSAGE

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 AGED CARE

What we want in aged care and what the parties are offering No more talking, no more taskforces, no more inquiries, no more deferring responsibility: Australia needs a government that will take decisive action to fix an aged care sector in severe crisis. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Final Report made 148 recommendations for widescale reform of the aged care system, following its shocking discovery of widespread neglect and systemic failings across the sector. Central to the report’s recommendations for guaranteeing quality and safety for all elderly Australians was its recognition that the aged care workforce is the most important part of the system. The commission also said safe, quality care will not be achieved across the sector without having enough staff with the skills and time to care. The Morrison government responded to the Royal Commission report by committing to implementing a number of its recommendations. However, the ANMF and the NSWNMA are concerned that five areas that are critical to guaranteeing quality and safety across the sector have either been ignored or not accepted in full by the government (see box). “The consequence of the failure to address these areas is that too many elderly Australians will continue to needlessly suffer,” said ANMF Secretary Annie Butler. “The workforce endeavouring to care for them will continue to feel abandoned and undervalued, and exhausted beyond redemption, and will be forced to leave the sector.

“Our members report that despite the government’s promise of wide-scale aged care reform there has been little or no alleviation of the fundamental staffing crisis across the sector and that many of them feel they can no longer endure the lack of respect afforded to them and those in their care.”

‘Five areas (see box) that are critical to guaranteeing quality and safety across the sector have either been ignored or not accepted in full by the Morrison government.’ — ANMF Secretary Annie Butler

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FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON AGED CARE

Coalition Following the royal commission’s final report, the federal government announced a $17.7 billion injection of funding into aged care. The five areas identified by the ANMF as critical to guaranteeing safety and quality across the sector were either ignored or not accepted in full by the government.

What the ANMF/NSWNMA is seeking from the incoming government: There are five issues critical for ensuring quality and safety across aged care: Registered nurse presence on site at every nursing home across Australia, 24 hours per day, and across all shifts – day, evening and night shifts. Immediate implementation of a minimum staff time standard for at least 200 minutes of care per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 40 minutes of that staff time provided by a registered nurse. An uplift in legislated minimum care hours to at least 215 minutes of care per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 44 minutes of that staff time provided by a registered nurse from 1 July 2023. Legislated transparency and accountability measures for use of taxpayers’ funding, which guarantee that funding is tied directly to care provision and staffing levels. Wage increases and improvements in conditions for the aged care workforce, commencing with support and a commitment to fund the 25 per cent wage increase being sought in the current work value case before the Fair Work Commission.

1 2 3 4 5

The government did acknowledge “the direct link between staffing levels and the quality of aged care for residents”.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has said: “Fixing aged care will be a central priority of an Albanese Labor government.” He promised an election policy that will address the priorities set out in the ANMF/ NSWNMA aged care pledge (see box). He also said, “We absolutely need minimum staffing ratios in residential aged care.”

The Greens The Greens support: A registered nurse on site 24 hours/day The immediate implementation of legislated minimum care hours as per the ANMF recommendation Legislated transparency and accountability measures A 25 per cent wage increase for all nurses and care workers in aged care.

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 AGED CARE

STOP PRESS Albanese promises our elderly hope and respect Opposition leader makes aged care the centrepiece of ALP federal election policy in his budget reply speech. In January Opposition leader Anthony Albanese signed the ANMF/NSWNMA pledge to support positive reform in aged care. As The Lamp goes to print he has built on that pledge with a concrete aged care policy that will be a pillar of the party’s election manifesto. Albanese has committed an ALP government to mandate staffing ratios by introducing, in law, requirements for minimum care hours in nursing homes and to fund real wage increases for all aged care workers. With a delegation of 10 ANMF aged care members watching on in Federal Parliament, he announced that, if elected, an ALP government would implement the critical recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. These recommendations required a registered nurse on site 24/7 in residential care with a mandated minimum of 215 minutes of care per resident per day. They were recommendations that the Morrison government chose to ignore in its response to the Commission’s final report.

LABOR WILL SUPPORT SIGNIFICANT PAY INCREASES IN AGED CARE The ALP has also pledged support for significant pay increases for aged care workers. The ANMF is party to a case before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that is pushing for a 25 per cent pay increase for aged care workers. This was another reform advocated by the Royal Commission into Aged Care. Anthony Albanese, as part of the ALP’s election policy, has pledged to respect the decision of the FWC and to fully fund it. ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler welcomed the opposition’s policy announcement. “We have known what the real problems in aged care are for years, but despite dozens of reports, inquiries, investigations and even a Royal Commission all saying the same thing, no one as been prepared to address these core problems,” she said. 10 | THE LAMP ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE

“After years of inaction, we may finally have a plan to fix the core problems underlining the crisis in aged care.”

A STARK DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PARTIES ON AGED CARE Annie Butler says there is now a stark difference between the two main political parties on aged care policy. “The Morrison Government was given a road map for reform more than a year ago by its own Royal Commission but failed to act on the Commission’s critical recommendations. Instead of overseeing desperately needed improvements, in the year that has elapsed, the Government has overseen a deepening crisis across the sector. In announcing his party’s policy Anthony Albanese said: “The global pandemic and a Royal Commission have confirmed what so many Australians already knew – our aged care system is in crisis.” “We’ve all been chilled by stories of unforgivable neglect. Maggots in wounds. People going days without fresh air, a shower, or a change of clothes. Stories of residents lying on the floor, crying out in pain, and nobody is there to help them,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that COVID swept through some aged care facilities with such deadly force – because for far too long the Liberals have turned a blind eye to operators who put profit ahead of the people in their care.” He said not only would a Labor government implement the necessary changes to reform the sector it would put in place strict measures of accountability on providers. “I am determined to see that every single dollar of that investment goes to better care for people. “We will make residential care providers report – in public and in detail – what they are spending money on. The days of residents going without decent food and clean clothes will come to an end.”


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

‘I am determined to see that every single dollar of that investment goes to better care for people. We will make residential care providers report – in public and in detail – what they are spending money on.’ — Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese

The pillars of Labor’s election policy on aged care 24 hour registered nurse care in every nursing home A mandated minimum

215 minutes

of care per resident per day Funding real wage increases for aged care workers Ensuring accountability across the sector NSWNMA members Linda Hardman (front centre) and Jocelyn Hofman (front right) joined aged care workers from other states and ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler to witness Anthony Albanese’s aged care announcement in the federal parliament.

Mandated standards for nutrition in nursing homes.

‘After years of inaction, we may finally have a plan to fix the core problems underlining the crisis in aged care.’ — ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler THE LAMP ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE | 11


NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 PUBLIC HEALTH FUNDING

Coalition resists fairer funding split The COVID-19 pandemic may be a once-in-a-century global emergency, but it has exposed longstanding problems and inequities in Australia’s public health system. The Morrison government is resisting growing calls to reform the way public health care is funded in Australia. State governments, public hospitals, and nurses’ and doctors’ unions all say reform is needed to withstand pressure placed on the health system by the COVID-19 pandemic and fix underlying weaknesses. As the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says, many pandemic-related problems are the result of “longstanding issues that prevent safe, appropriate, effective and affordable care for all Australians.” The states and territories have called on the federal government to abandon a 6.5 per cent cap on the growth in health funding, which has been blamed for eroding the viability of the hospital system. They also want total health costs, including those incurred as a result of the pandemic, split 50-50 between the states and Commonwealth. Under the current arrangement, the federal government contributes only 45 per cent of hospital funding. Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley has called the current funding arrangement unfair and unsustainable. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt effectively conceded that hospitals are indeed underfunded. He said, “There is nothing stopping the states and territories matching the Australian Government’s investment in public hospitals and if they did, hospitals would be adequately funded.”

NURSES AND MIDWIVES’ VIEW The ANMF says the federal government must commit to a permanent 50-50 funding split as part of a commitment to deliver a “high-quality, well-funded and sustainable health and maternity care system.” The ANMF agrees the 6.5 per cent cap on funding growth should be scrapped “so funding can meet community health needs based on realities on the ground.” At the same time, the ANMF wants states and territories to reinvest the 5 per cent of ‘freed-up’ funds to improve performance and capacity. That view is shared by the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which represents doctors. AMA president Omar Khorshid strongly supported the push for a 50-50 share of hospital costs, but stressed an increase in federal funding should not allow the states to pay less into the system. “The reality is health care is more expensive because of COVID; that includes things like PPE and testing, and we are likely to be living with these costs for years,” he said. “And then there is the cost of deferred care, the diagnostics, the surgeries that happen later. There’s an additional cost if cancer is detected and treated later, for example.” In a federal election statement, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) also called for funding reform. The AHHA is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, primary health networks, and community and primary healthcare services. “Expectations of reverting to ‘business as usual’ are unrealistic if health outcome and inequities are to be improved,” the AHHA said.

‘Many pandemic-related problems are the result of long-standing issues that prevent safe, appropriate, effective and affordable care for all Australians.’ — ANMF 12 | THE LAMP ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON PUBLIC HEALTH FUNDING

Coalition The Coalition says it is providing record levels of funding for hospitals, medicines and Medicare. It also says it has “taken steps to make private health insurance simpler and more affordable.” Despite bungling its response to the pandemic, including failing to secure enough vaccines and test kits, the Coalition describes its response to COVID-19 as “world leading”.

Increased funding needed to fix a broken system Health experts, including the ANMF, are calling on the federal government to: Abandon a 6.5% cap on the growth of health funding so resources can meet community health needs based on realities on the ground.

Commit to a 50-50 funding split between states and the commonwealth to deliver a high-quality, and sustainable health and maternity care system.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese says: Labor “will always be better” on health than the Coalition, and promises a “strong, properly funded public health system, with Medicare as its backbone” (The ALP had not released detailed health policies when The Lamp went to print). In January, Albanese said health workers “are paying the price for some of the most serious public policy failures our country has seen. They are overworked. They are exhausted. He said Australians “owe it to them (health workers) to study what the pandemic has revealed about the vulnerabilities of our public health system – and strengthen it for the future.”

The Greens The Greens want to: Legislate equal funding of hospitals between the Commonwealth and states to put an extra $8 billion into public health Cancel the private health insurance rebate and put the saved $7 billion into the public system Get more tax from big companies and billionaires to expand Medicare to include free dental and mental health care Boost primary health care and preventive measures such as health promotion, disease prevention, risk reduction and early intervention, in order to manage chronic disease, reduce ill-health and reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 WAGES

Pay battles expose Coalition’s contempt for wage justice Be it health care in NSW or aged care nationwide, Liberal/National governments are determined to keep wages low. Liberal/National Party Coalition governments have a mean streak when it comes to fair pay in aged care. In 2012, the Gillard Labor government committed $1.2 billion to address aged care workforce issues, including specific funding for wage increases. However, in 2014 the Abbott government abolished the measure, despite warnings from the Aged Care Financing Authority. Instead, it told aged care providers to bring in more temporary migrant workers. Fast forward to 2022 and another federal Coalition government is displaying a similar contempt for wage justice. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is currently considering a union application for a 25 per cent wage increase for aged care workers. Aged care employers have told the FWC they also support a pay rise but haven’t specified how much. Labor leader Anthony Albanese says his government will also make a submission to the FWC supporting a pay increase if Labor wins the election. The Morrison government alone refuses to support a permanent pay rise. Instead, it hopes aged care workers will be satisfied with two one-off payments of $400. This is a rejection of the aged care royal commission’s call for higher wages in the sector last year. As Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said, “If Mr Morrison was fair dinkum, he’d turn up at the Fair Work Commission, the independent umpire of wages, and support increasing the base rate per hour. If we don’t do that, we’re going to see a flight of aged care workers into hospo, into retail, into Bunnings, and nothing ever changes.” In NSW, Scott Morrison’s counterparts in

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Macquarie Street have shown a similar disregard for wage justice for nurses and midwives. The NSW Coalition Government gave nurses and midwives an insulting 0.3 per cent increase in the first year of the pandemic and a 1.5 per cent pay rise in 2021. As NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said, “Not only is this offer disrespectful of our hardworking members, but it also sends a message to any nurses and midwives entering the public health sector that they are not valued by their employer.” Such paltry increases also make no economic sense. A study by the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute found that blocking pay rises for essential workers “is not just morally questionable – it’s also a major economic mistake”. “The motivation for public sector wage austerity seems more ideological than fiscal or economic. Our research shows these arbitrary pay freezes are both unfair and economically counterproductive,” said Dr Jim Stanford, the lead author of the study. Even the Reserve Bank of Australia says improved wages remain central to any recovery from the pandemic. For years, the Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, has said wages growth in Australia needs to “have a three in front of it” for spending to pick up and our economy to prosper. Dr Andrew Charlton, a key economic adviser for the Rudd government when it crafted its stimulus package in response to the Global Financial Crisis, said keeping wages low is “precisely the opposite direction economic policy needs to be headed to achieve the government’s goal of supporting economic recovery.”


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

‘The motivation for public sector wage austerity seems more ideological than fiscal or economic.’ — Dr Jim Stanford, Australia Institute

Low wages are damaging the economy

0.3%

pay rise for NSW public sector nurses in 2020

1.5%

pay rise for NSW public sector nurses in 2021

3.0% p.a pay rises the RBA says are necessary for our economy to prosper

WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON WAGES

Labor Labor promises to: Make a submission to the Fair Work Commission supporting a pay increase for aged care workers if it wins government Legislate to criminalise wage theft – the deliberate underpayment or non-payment of wages, which disproportionately impacts young people, women, overseas students and migrant workers. A 2019 report estimated the underpayment of Australian workers’ entitlements at $1.35 billion per year including $220 million in “healthcare and social assistance” Ensure that workers employed through labour hire companies receive no less than workers employed directly.

The Greens The Greens support: Raising the minimum wage to at least 60 per cent of the full-time adult median wage so workers can afford to meet their basic needs Giving workers the right to engage in industrial action, including the right to strike, consistent with international law and not limited to artificially restricted bargaining periods Giving workers the right to engage in collective bargaining on any matter relevant to their social, economic and environmental interests.

Coalition The Coalition government imposed a 12-month pay freeze on federal government employees in 2020. Its latest wage policy is to ensure that Commonwealth public sector wage rises do not exceed wage rises in the private sector. The Liberal and National parties promise to continue “tackling union lawlessness and thuggery”.

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 CLIMATE CHANGE

Unchecked climate change ‘catastrophic’ for health Natural disasters will only get worse unless governments and industry get serious about tackling climate change. Much of Australia’s east coast is struggling to recover from catastrophic floods. Cities like Lismore in northern NSW, which suffered the worst flooding in its history, may never fully recover. Only two years ago, some of these districts were battling horrendous bushfires after the five hottest years on record. In fire and flood, many of our members have been near the front line, caring for the sick, infirm and elderly. Often this has occurred when they themselves, and their families and homes, have been under direct threat from natural disasters. Climate change is happening because of “unprecedented rapid warming from human activities, primarily due to burning fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gas emissions” and land clearing, according to a United Nations expert panel. The NSWNMA has long argued that global warming will have major consequences for our already overloaded health system and for nurses and nursing. Years ago, we warned: “Climate change is giving rise to fundamental health issues and the consequences of inaction will be catastrophic.” Air pollution from NSW fires in late 2019 led 27 health and medical groups to issue a joint statement calling on the federal and NSW governments to respond to the “public health emergency” resulting from bushfire smoke. “All of our political leaders must acknowledge the health and environmental emergency of climate change and step up and commit to urgent climate action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with what the science demands,” the statement said.

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‘Climate change is giving rise to fundamental health issues and the consequences of inaction will be catastrophic.’ However, climate change did not rate a mention in Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan, nor in the Department of Health’s Corporate Plan 2021–22, The Lamp reported in February 2021. Late last year, health groups sent Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt an open letter calling on the government to recognise the magnitude of the health emergency caused by climate change and to embrace more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The letter proposed a framework for a national strategy on climate, health and well-being for Australia. Key recommendations included legislation for a 75 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The letter also called on the government to: • raise the preparedness of health and emergency services to respond to the impacts of climate change, such as increased extreme weather events • integrate climate risk assessments into all disaster preparedness and health sector planning • educate and train health professionals to respond to the health impacts of climate change.


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Greens The Greens’ emissions reduction plan calls for: Net zero Australian greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 or sooner Removal of all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry An orderly phase out of the exploration for, extraction, consumption and export of fossil fuels.

Health impacts of climate change According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: In Australia, there will be 20–70% more days over 35°C by 2030, putting people at risk of heat-related illnesses In Australian cities, excess heatrelated deaths could quadruple in 2031-2080 compared with 1971-2020 Australia’s “1-in-100” year floods could occur several times a year

Labor The Climate Council says the ALP’s 2030 target sets Australia on a path to achieve net zero emissions in 2050. Under the ALP plan, renewable energy (like solar and wind) is expected to power 82 per cent of our energy needs by 2030 (up from 68 per cent under the Coalition’s “business as usual” approach). The Climate Council says Labor’s modelling and policies is “comprehensive” and will lead to “significant jobs growth and private investment” while lowering power bills for households and businesses. “Labor’s new suite of climate policies would create jobs and economic prosperity – particularly in the regions – and could get Australia off the sidelines and back in the race to net zero,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie says.

Coalition The Climate Council describes the Coalition’s climate policies as a “do nothing approach”. The council says that under current government policy settings Australia won’t reach net zero until almost 2100 – “In fact, the Morrison government’s own modelling shows it would only be reducing emissions by a little more than a half by 2050.” The Coalition insists it is committed to reducing emissions through technology, including investment in hydrogen, longduration energy storage, low emissions steel and aluminium production, carbon capture and storage, and healthy soils.

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 SUPERANNUATION

Long war on workers’ super The Morrison government has been at war with workers’ superannuation throughout its current three-year term. Scott Morrison’s war on super has come at the expense of working women and nurses and midwives in particular. Superannuation held in industry funds is usually their main way of saving for retirement. Industry funds, such as the health sector’s HESTA and Aware, are jointly managed by employer and union representatives to improve the retirement prospects of working Australians. Industry funds routinely deliver far better returns for workers than bank-owned retail super funds, which are politically close to Morrison’s Liberal Party. The rorts and rip-offs of retail super funds were exposed by the banking royal commission in 2018/2019. It found bank-owned funds charged fees to the dead, duped people into losing their life savings, and broke the law thousands of times. The government fired its most recent shot in March this year when it decided not to add superannuation to taxpayerfunded parental leave payments. This went against recommendations from the chairperson of the Retirement Income Review, Mike Callaghan, and the Productivity Commission. The decision has left “hundreds of thousands of women financially worse off in retirement if they have a child,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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“Industry Super analysis found 1.6 million women have taken up government-funded paid parental leave since it was introduced a decade ago, but missed out on $1.86 billion in super due to time out of the workforce.” Last year, the government made changes to superannuation law designed to weaken industry funds and exert greater government control over them. Australia’s biggest employer organisation, the Australian Industry Group (AIG), sided with the union movement in opposing the changes. AIG Chief Executive Innes Willox called them “disproportionate, ineffective and intrusive”. He said they would “do more harm than good” and “leave more people in poor-performing funds for longer”. Broad community opposition helped to persuade the crossbench and even some government MPs to successfully oppose aspects of the bill. Last year was also marked by the government’s refusal to confirm its 2019 election promise to gradually increase the super guarantee to 12 per cent by 2025. The increases are already legislated, but in 2020 the government indicated they were unaffordable and would hurt wages and jobs. A group of prominent Liberal MPs, who benefit from a 15.4 per cent

Why women are at risk of poverty in retirement On average women retire with 42% less super than men On average women earn $241% a week less than men

44% take more than two years to return to work after having a child – adversely impacting on their super


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

‘Dismantling our world-leading retirement savings regime has become an ideological obsession for many in the Liberal Party.’ — Sally McManus

government contribution into their parliamentary retirement accounts, called for the increases to be cancelled. The government suggested increases above 10 per cent would be optional – meaning workers could choose to take additional payments as extra wages rather than as a superannuation contribution. But ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said any delay in the compulsory superannuation guarantee rise would not lead to employers granting higher wages. “Dismantling our world-leading retirement savings regime has become an ideological obsession for many in the Liberal Party,” Sally said. “Even amidst a global pandemic, an economic meltdown and wide job insecurity, crushing super seems their only priority.” In The Guardian, economics commentator Greg Jericho called the government’s proposals “disingenuous”. “If this government truly wanted to increase wages it would not institute a policy to reduce public servants’ wage growth. It would also not seek to reduce the bargaining power of workers as it has continually sought to do,” he said. “If you want to fix wages growth, fix wages growth. And if you want to improve retirement incomes, don’t instead seek to destroy superannuation because you hate industry funds.”

WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON SUPERANNUATION

Labor Promises to protect the legislated increase in compulsory superannuation from the current 10 per cent to 12 per cent by 2025 and then to “set out a pathway to increasing it to 15 per cent.” Will ensure the superannuation guarantee is legislated to become part of the national minimum employment standard so it is enforceable as an industrial entitlement. Will improve people’s ability to recover unpaid superannuation as an industrial right. Will not allow contracting arrangements to be used to evade paying superannuation.

The Greens Propose changing the taxation of superannuation to benefit lower income earners. Support more equitable retirement incomes “particularly for women and other disadvantaged groups”. Want to create more ethical investment structures.

Coalition Claims its superannuation reforms will save Australians $17.9 billion over 10 years, by: Preventing unintended multiple accounts when workers change jobs Holding funds to account for underperformance Providing a YourSuper comparison tool Increasing transparency and accountability.

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NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022 TAX

Tax avoidance rife despite COVID burden Big corporations have too much power over Australia’s tax system, leaving the government with less resources to fund health and aged care, critics say. “When a nurse is paying more tax than a multinational company, something is deeply wrong.” So said Greens leader Adam Bandt when launching his party’s plan to clamp down on corporate tax dodging in November. The Parliamentary Budget Office estimated the Greens’ plan would claw back around $4.5 billion for the public purse, Bandt said. In December, The Guardian revealed that 168 of Australia’s biggest companies had paid no tax since 2013, despite reaping profits totalling more than $9.85 billion. They include household names such as property developer Lendlease and the Australian arms of multinationals, including oil and gas major Chevron and German engineering and technology group Bosch. ATO deputy commissioner Rebecca Saint told The Guardian there were “legitimate reasons why a company may not pay tax”. The Guardian said some companies, including Lendlease, are part of property trust groups, where paying tax is the responsibility of the investor rather than the company. Other companies that paid no tax, such as subsidiaries of BHP and Rio Tinto, are members of corporate groups where another entity pays their taxes for them.

SHIFTING DEBT Under the Greens’ plan, multinational companies would be barred from artificially shifting debt to Australia to increase tax deductions. The plan would also stop tax deductions for royalties paid to other arms of the same company. Research by economists from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of

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Copenhagen has highlighted the extent to which multinational firms shift profits to tax havens to reduce their tax bills. The research cited the example of Google, which in 2017 reported US$23 billion (A$31 billion) in revenue in Bermuda, a small island in the Atlantic. Bermuda’s corporate income tax rate is zero. In 2018, the researchers estimated that Australia was losing 10 per cent of its corporate tax revenue, or almost US$7.6 billion (more than A$10.2 billion) through use of tax havens. However, the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, a global coalition of civil society and labour groups, is pushing governments to do more to tackle tax avoidance, “end the era of tax havens”, and stop the “race to the bottom” on corporate taxation.

PAYING FOR COVID Around the world, the COVID pandemic has led to major increases in government spending and debt to support health, incomes and employment. The commission says corporate tax avoidance has left governments with fewer resources to cover the costs of dealing with the pandemic. The commission adds that reductions in company tax “to stimulate reconstruction investment” will be neither economically effective nor socially desirable. In Australia, critics of the tax system insist that big corporations have too much power. “They seem to write their own rules,” Bandt says. “Take, for example, ExxonMobil Australia, which booked $56 billion in total income over the last six years. “Each and every year, they reduced their taxable income to $0, mostly through a web of deductible payments to other arms of the same company.”


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

‘When a nurse is paying more tax than a multinational company, something is deeply wrong.’ — Adam Bandt, Greens leader

Obscene levels of corporate tax avoidance Of Australia’s biggest companies,

168 had paid no tax since 2013 despite reaping

WHERE THE PARTIES STAND ON TAX

Coalition Stage-three tax cuts planned to take effect in 2024–25 will remove the 37 cents in the dollar tax bracket, lower the 32.5 cent bracket to 30 cents, and raise the top tax bracket to start at $200,000 compared with $180,000 now. The Australia Institute, the Australian Council of Social Service and others say the tax cuts are highly regressive and would pay male beneficiaries twice as much as women. They say someone earning $200,000 a year would receive $174 a week in tax relief, or 73 times the benefit of those earning $50,000 who would save just $2.40 a week. All up, the cuts are estimated to cost about $184 billion over the first decade.

Labor

profits totalling more than A$9.85 billion.

The ALP will retain the Morrison government’s legislated stage three tax cuts, which favour high income earners.

Australia was losing 10 per cent of its corporate tax revenue or almost US$7.6 billion (more than A$10.2 billion) through use of tax havens.

It has dumped proposed changes to negative gearing that were taken to the 2016 and 2019 elections.

Exxonmobil Australia made A$56 billion in income over the last six years and reduced their taxable income to $0.

Labor sources have argued that changing the stage-three tax cuts to make people earning over $180,000 pay more tax would raise too little revenue for the political backlash it could generate.

The Greens “Every dollar of tax that the government fails to get from a multinational is an extra dollar they have to either take from an Australian worker or cut from schools and hospitals,” say the Greens. They are pushing for: A new corporate super-profits tax of 40 per cent on big companies An extra 6 per cent wealth tax on billionaires A mega-profits tax on big corporations earning more than $100 million annually A crackdown on multinational tax avoidance. THE LAMP ELECTION SPECIAL ISSUE | 21


NURSES AND MIDWIVES VOTE MAY 2022

Get involved and make a difference COVID-19 has exposed how our aged care and public health systems have been run down over a long period and starved of resources, especially staff. This federal election is an opportunity for accountability and a fresh start. Here are some ideas of how you can join with other nurses and midwives to bring about real change for the benefit of our patients and aged care residents.

6

things you can do to make a difference this election

1

Talk to your friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues about the need for real change in our aged care and public health systems.

2

Use social media to get our messages and materials out to the community https:// www.facebook.com/ agedcarenurses/

5

Email people and ask them to watch our TV ads online and to share the link with five more: https://www. itsnottoomuch.com/the-campaign/

4

Visit our campaign website for more information and to get involved. Go to https://www. itsnottoomuch.com/

6

Vote to make aged care staff ratios law

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5

Sign up to the campaign Help spread our message about aged care and public health in the key NSW electorates of Dobell, Robertson, Macquarie and Gilmore https:// www.itsnottoomuch.com/


FEDERAL ELECTION 2022

Download our campaign materials

Visit our campaign website The ANMF has set up a campaign website for members and the public: STAFF RATIOS FOR AGED CARE, IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK where you can:

EMAIL

LIKE

WATCH

Send an email to the party leaders and tell them you care about what is happening to our public health system. https:// anmffederal.good. do/itsnottoomuch/ email-mp/

Join us on Facebook and keep up to date with health and aged care election issues as they happen. https://www. facebook.com/ agedcarenurses/

and share our TV ads. https://www. itsnottoomuch. com/thecampaign/

‘It is only nurses’ commitment and goodwill that has held our aged care system together, and it will be our collective actions that can bring change.’ — NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary Shaye Candish

Billboards, corflute signage and press ad flyers available here https:// www.itsnottoomuch.com/thecampaign/

‘It’s disgusting Mr Morrison.’

Samantha | AGED CARE NURSE

VOTE TO MAKE AGED CARE STAFF RATIOS LAW. Disgusting that you haven’t done your job and fixed staff ratios in aged care Mr Morrison. This is your last chance to help Samantha and her colleagues provide the best care for our elderly loved ones.

ITSnottoomuch.com Authorised by A. Butler, Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Melbourne

‘It’s disgusting Mr Morrison.’

SamANTHA | AGED CARE NURSE

VOTE TO MAKE AGED CARE STAFF RATIOS LAW.

ITSnottoomuch.com Authorised by A. Butler, Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Melbourne

‘We need a government with guts.’ VOTE TO MAKE AGED CARE STAFF RATIOS LAW.

ITSnottoomuch.com Authorised by A. Butler, Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Melbourne

IRENE | AGED CARE NURSE

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‘It’s disgusting Mr Morrison.’

Samantha | AGED CARE NURSE

VOTE TO MAKE AGED CARE STAFF RATIOS LAW. Disgusting that you haven’t done your job and fixed staff ratios in aged care Mr Morrison. This is your last chance to help Samantha and her colleagues provide the best care for our elderly loved ones.

ITSnottoomuch.com Authorised by A. Butler, Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, Melbourne