Australia

‘Australia has lost confidence in minister’: Labor

Australia’s Senate has censured federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes. The move is a way for the parliament to condemn an MP’s actions and is used to ramp up pressure for a minister to be sacked.Senior Labor Senator Penny Wong successfully moved the motion, which…

Australia’s Senate has censured federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes.

The move is a way for the parliament to condemn an MP’s actions and is used to ramp up pressure for a minister to be sacked.

Senior Labor Senator Penny Wong successfully moved the motion, which passed with 25 votes to 21.

The motion criticised Senator Colbeck for failing to recall the most basic and tragic facts about aged care residents, describing his management of aged care as a “high water mark”.

It also said he dismissed deaths as a “function” of aged care and failed to take responsibility for the devastating crisis in the aged care sector that has caused “death, grief and untold trauma” for vulnerable Australians and their families.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese told NCA NewsWire that the censure made Mr Colbeck’s position “untenable”.

As she moved the motion, Senator Wong said the neglect of older Australians had to stop.

“I do not move this censure lightly,” she said.

“But if the Morrison Government will not act to protect older Australians, the Senate must act.

“The country has lost confidence in this minister. He has lost the confidence of the parliament.”

The Opposition again used Question Time on Thursday to ramp up pressure on the Government over the aged care crisis.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed the Senate’s condemnation.

“In relation to censures in the Senate, that is not a new thing,” he said.

“John Howard was censured by the Senate, Paul Keating was censured by the Senate, Mr Speaker, Gareth Evans was censured by the Senate, Graham Richardson has been censured by the Senate.”

Senator Colbeck last week apologised to the Upper House for not having information about deaths in aged care and admitted “there have been missteps”.

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