Politics with Michelle Grattan
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells on aged care – what needs to be done differently

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells on aged care – what needs to be done differently

August 7, 2020

The Royal Commission into Aged-Care Quality and Safety delivered it’s interim report in October 2019. Titled ‘Neglect’, it provided a scathing insight into the aged care industry - finding it centred around transactions not care. It minimised the voices of people receiving care, lacked transparency, and was staffed by an under-appreciated and under-pressure workforce.

The outbreak of coronavirus, and the second-wave of infections in Melbourne, has raised fresh questions. The virus has infected residents and staff en masse, leaving aged-care residents major victims of the pandemic.

Read more: View from The Hill: There's no case for keeping secret any aged care facility's COVID details

NSW Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells was the shadow minister for ageing for four years, during Tony Abbott’s time as opposition leader. She has made a detailed submission to the Royal Commission, critical of the government’s attempts to reform the troubled sector.

The Royal Commission is holding hearings next week to take evidence on the affects of the COVID virus. Among the questions Fierranvanti-Wells would like asked of the industry are

“How could you have avoided the situation that you were facing?

"What is it about the system that has led to you being in this difficult situation?

"What was in place to assist you in the event of a pandemic?

"Where have you found that the intersection between health and ageing has fallen over?

"Where could you have performed a better response if you’d had better medical services available in your aged care facility?

"And what workforce was required to have been available to you in your aged care facility to meet the potential of a pandemic?”

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells submission to the commission can be read here.

Patricia Sparrow on the need for aged care reform

Patricia Sparrow on the need for aged care reform

July 30, 2020

Those in aged care have been some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus second wave in Victoria. Even before the crisis, there were calls for reform of the sector, which is currently being examined by a royal commission.

Issues with staffing and delivery of care have only become worse as many workers are required to isolate, with mass transmission occurring in the  homes.


Patricia Sparrow is CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia, a peak body which represents not-for-profit members providing residential care for some 450,000 people throughout the country.


One of the many issues with the aged care sector, Sparrow says, is a failure to define the role and purpose of aged care.


"They used to be called nursing homes and that's what people thought they were. But in recent times ... there's been a move to them being more home-like and less emphasis on [the] clinical. So I think one of the critical things we need to do is actually to determine what is it that aged care is providing."


"We need to decide then as a community how we fund it so that it can deliver the quality of care that the community expects and that we as providers want to provide."


The royal commission produced a scathing interim report, and Sparrow is hopeful its final findings will bring about the real reform the industry needs.


"We do need a system that's wellness-based. We need a system that supports people at home, that provides the very best in terms of health-care needs. And that does require us to look at the interface with the health system. 


"There's no doubt that we need a fundamental reform and there's no doubt that providers are doing the very best they can now, with the resourcing and the restraints around what it is that we can do."

Geoff Kitney on a life in journalism and the contemporary media landscape

Geoff Kitney on a life in journalism and the contemporary media landscape

July 22, 2020

Geoff Kitney fell into a career in journalism, and rose from reporting the local footy in Western Australia to covering many of federal politics's biggest stories and serving as a foreign correspondent based in Berlin and London.


Arriving at parliament house in 1975, Kitney reported on the dramatic Dismissal. Later, the relative decorum of the Canberra press gallery contrasted with the danger and adventure of war reporting.


During the Kosovo war, he was sent to Belgrade, travelling there in a bus with a crowd of Serbians.


"It was very, very strange bus trip because we'd passed houses with MiG fighters parked in the driveways ... [Slobodan Milošević] was trying to stop NATO destroying his airforce. So he put the MiG fighters next to people's houses so that they wouldn't hit them, which meant that he couldn't use them, but at least he still had them."


In Kitney's new book, Beyond the Newsroom, based around his decades of reporting and analysis, he also has some sharp observations about what's happened to the media.


"Advertising started shifting to social media. Newspaper budgets got tighter and tighter. Staff started being cut. We've now had years of redundancies."

"We had specialist reporters covering all sorts of issues, digging down, getting out into the bureaucracy ... finding what's really going on. Now ...there aren't enough people to do that."


"And the pressure, for Twitter for example, is to be noticed. And it seems to me that people think the best way to get noticed, and probably this is true, is to have strong opinions that people react to. And so opinion becomes more important than actual information."


After the crisis: what lessons can be drawn from the management of COVID-19 for the recovery process?

After the crisis: what lessons can be drawn from the management of COVID-19 for the recovery process?

July 20, 2020

In this fourth episode of the Conversation-Democracy 2025 Podcast on “Political Trust in Times of Covid-19”, Michelle Grattan and Mark Evans explore the lessons that can be drawn from the management of Covid-19 for the recovery process with the ABC’s Norman Swan and Mark Kenny from the Australian Studies Institute at the Australian National University.

The discussion draws on the very latest findings from a comparative survey conducted by Democracy 2025 and Trustgov in May and June in Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States on political trust and democracy in times of Coronavirus.

The survey investigates whether public attitudes towards democratic institutions and practices have changed during the pandemic. We also asked questions on compliance and resilience issues and whether the way we do democracy in Australia might change post Covid-19.

We observe that Australia can be considered a global leader in its response to the pandemic and assess whether the highest levels of public trust in federal government seen for a decade can hold in the recovery period.

You can find the first of three reports on the findings at [Democracy 2025](https://www.democracy2025.gov.au/).

Jane Halton on the risk of ‘vaccine nationalism’

Jane Halton on the risk of ‘vaccine nationalism’

July 16, 2020

Jane Halton, who formerly headed the federal health and finance departments, is chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness.

CEPI, founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is at the forefront of the international search for a COVID-19 vaccine.

She is also a member of the Morrison government's National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, which liaises with business and advises government on how to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

Currently she's undertaking a nationwide review of the hotel quarantine system.

Halton, who when in the public service took part in a government pandemic rehearsal, says Australia was relatively ready. But she says that inevitably, when there's a review in the wake of COVID-19, there'll be a lot to learn from this experience. "Just like we've learnt from H1N1...just like we've learned from SARS.

"But in the short term, the systems stood up capacity really quickly, which is great."

On the reality of vaccine being developed, while it might not be soon, Halton is relatively optimistic.

"Look, there are lots of experts who are both optimistic and pessimistic."

"The experts that I work with, they are probably what I would describe as moderately optimistic. Now, they sort of have to be because they're working on this and they are spending huge hours every day, every week in this race. And so they have to think that there's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But there's a pretty significant number of scientists who do think it's possible."

Christopher Pyne on being ‘the ultimate insider’

Christopher Pyne on being ‘the ultimate insider’

July 9, 2020

Former Liberal Minister Christopher Pyne attracted critics for his political front. But he always had plenty of friends and networks, enabling him often to be a player, if not always a "fixer".

After his election to the South Australian seat of Sturt at age 25, he went on to hold senior portfolios, notably education and defence, and to stride the parliamentary stage as Leader of the House of Representatives.

In his memoir, The Insider, the former politician provides his take, humorous and candid, on a tumultuous 26 parliamentary years.

In this podcast, Pyne talks about life after politics, and stories from the 'Canberra bubble'.

"I don't miss politics at all - because I left happy, and I wanted to go.

"So I'm not one of these politicians that was dragged kicking and screaming. I left when people wanted me to stay, which is a great rarity."

Pyne is ultra candid about his ambition to be prime minister:

"I think when you're 15, and you decided you want to be a member of the House of Representatives, you kind of think 'I'm going to dream big.' So of course I dreamt to be prime minister".

Reality, it appears, didn't hit for quite a while.

"I think that week when Malcolm [Turnbull] was deposed and nobody was suggesting that I should be running for leader, it dawned on me that the generation that was being elected, which was Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg, were a generation different to me."


two leading economists on Australia’s post-COVID economy

two leading economists on Australia’s post-COVID economy

July 2, 2020

With three months before JobSeeker is due to end and calls for billions of dollars in extra spending, there is a growing debate about how Australia’s post-coronavirus economy will actually look.

While Scott Morrison has said Australia will need to lift economic growth by “more than one percentage point above trend” through to 2025, a 22-economist panel  hosted by The Conversation forecast a bleaker result.

Growth one percentage point above trend would average almost 4% per year.

The Conversation’s economic panel forecast an annual growth averaging 2.4% over the next four years, much less than the long-term trend.

In this podcast, Michelle Grattan discusses the economic pathway ahead with two economists featured on the panel: Professor of Economics at the UNSW Business School Richard Holden, and Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Australian National University Warwick McKibbin.

McKibbin argues for a major change to the national cabinet. “I think it would be very useful if the leader of the opposition was on that cabinet, and perhaps even a couple of the key ministerial portfolios from the opposition side, so that you truly have… both sides of the political spectrum represented.”

Making the body more inclusive, McKibbin says, would assist a bipartisan approach. “If you are going to go for the big bipartisan approach, which I think is fundamental to most of the problems we face, you have to do something like the national cabinet,” he said.

“It worked very effectively during the worst parts of the virus, it is breaking down now it appears, because Australians seem to think things are okay now. But I think you’ll see it re-emerge very shortly.”

Richard Holden warns an increase in taxation should not be contemplated to pay for some of the large spend the COVID crisis is requiring.

“I don’t think there will be an increase in taxation under this government, and I definitely don’t think there should be under any government,” he says.

“The coalition has made the debt and deficits mantra part of their political brand, and I understand that from a political perspective. And there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to balancing the budget over the economic cycle.”

“But when you’re in one of the largest economic crises in a hundred years, it is not the time to be penny-pinching and focusing on economic management credentials as measured by the budget bottom line in the short term.”

Politics with Michelle Grattan: The Battle for Eden-Monaro – interviews with Kristy McBain and Fiona Kotvojs

Politics with Michelle Grattan: The Battle for Eden-Monaro – interviews with Kristy McBain and Fiona Kotvojs

June 25, 2020

On July 4, the voters of Eden-Monaro will give their judgment on the performances of Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese.

The seat is held by Labor on a margin of just under 1%. Labor is campaigning hard on JobKeeper ending in late September, while the Liberals are hoping the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis will outweigh Scott Morrison’s poor conduct during the bushfires.

In this podcast, Michelle Grattan discusses the byelection campaign with the main candidates, Labor’s Kristy McBain and Liberal Fiona Kotvojs.

McBain: “I think everybody’s sick of old politics … this idea that you govern for only the people that vote for you. When you’re elected, you’re elected to represent everybody, whether they agree with you or not. You should be hearing them out, and I want to make sure that people in Eden-Monaro have a strong fair voice in Canberra for them.”

Kotvojs: “There [are] two key issues: one is about recovering after fires and after COVID, and the other is in terms of rebuilding our economy. So in terms of the first one, what we need to do is to look at getting more consistency and an integrated approach between the three levels of government… In terms of the rebuilding the economy, that’s all about jobs.”

Clive Hamilton and Richard McGregor on Australia-China relations

Clive Hamilton and Richard McGregor on Australia-China relations

June 17, 2020

After its calls for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, Australia has found itself targeted by China with sharp rhetoric and trade retaliation.

In this podcast, we talk with two prominent China experts about China's ambitions and the Australia-China relationship.

Clive Hamilton, from Charles Sturt University, has just coauthored, with Marieke Ohlberg, Hidden Hand. The book probes the Chinese Communist Party's ever-expanding presence on the international stage."From Beijing's perspective, they see themselves not in a new Cold War, but still in the old Cold War," Hamilton says.

Richard McGregor, who reported from China for many years, last year published Xi Jinping: The Backlash. McGregor argues for a rather different "tone" in Australia's dealing with China. "We always seem to want to bring on a fight with China, and that ignores the economic equities we have in the relationship. We don't want to give them any excuse to unfairly punish us."



Trust, democracy and COVID-19: A British perspective

Trust, democracy and COVID-19: A British perspective

June 16, 2020

Conversation-Democracy 2025 Podcast on “Political Trust in Times of COVID-19” produced by ContentGroup

A week ago, the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that the number of people killed by the coronavirus in the United Kingdom stood at 32,313, the second highest death toll in the world.

Health experts believe that the real figure is likely to be closer to 50,000.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in Australia currently stand at 103.

Critics have accused a “complacent” British government of “massively underestimating” the gravity of the coronavirus crisis.

The prominent Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the situation in the UK was “like a nightmare from which you cannot awake, but in which you landed because of your own fault or stupidity”. London correspondent Christoph Meyer writes, Britain has emerged as Europe’s “problem child” of the COVID-19 crisis.

Although international comparisons of COVID-19 death tolls, are methodologically problematic and morally bankrupt, there can be no doubt that the lived citizen experience of COVID-19 has been dramatically different in the United Kingdom when compared with Australia.

Every citizen has a heart-breaking personal story to tell.

In contrast, most Australians, have been blessed voyeurs on the pandemic further perpetuating its image as the Lucky Country.

In this podcast Mark Evans and Michelle Grattan explore differences in the management, experience and impact of the crisis in the company of three leading British academic thinkers and members of the [Trustgov project](https://trustgov.net) at the University of Southampton.

Will Jennings is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton. He is an expert on public policy and political behaviour, Principle Investigator on the Trustgov project, Co-Director of the UK Policy Agendas Project, and elections analyst for Sky News.

Dr. Jennifer Gaskell joined the TrustGov project as a Research Fellow in July 2019. She holds an interdisciplinary PhD in Web Science from the University of Southampton. Her research focuses on the ways new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) impact civic and political participation. She is also the co-founder of Build Up, a social enterprise working at the intersection of new technologies, civic engagement and peace-building.

Gerry Stoker is Professor of Governance at the University of Southampton and Centenary Professor at the University of Canberra. He is an expert on democratic politics and governance, and advisor to governments and international organisations on public sector reform.