CANBERRA, AAP – A Medicare-style levy or tax hike remains on the table as the Morrison government weighs up how to find billions of dollars desperately needed for aged care.
Both aged care royal commissioners recommended new ways to fund the besieged sector in the final inquiry report earlier in the week.
In his first public response to the report, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the options of a new levy or tax rise would be carefully weighed up.
“We will consider those various ideas and recommendations that were put forth,” he told reporters in Canberra.
But after noting the commissioners’ different approaches, he appeared to talk down stinging taxpayers.
“Our government’s track record has been about delivering lower taxes and that’s what you’ll consistently see from a coalition government,” Mr Frydenberg said.
The treasurer said it was patently obvious the sector would need more government funding.
“The way we’re going to fund aged care is by growing the Australian economy.”
Commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs were split over recommended funding models.
Mr Pagone said an aged care levy legally tied to funding the sector would be optimal, while also raising the prospect of an income tax rise.
Ms Briggs is in favour of a one per cent Medicare-style levy which would flow into government coffers without having to be spent on aged care.
The government made an initial funding announcement of $452 million after the report was released on Monday but has flagged a bigger injection in the May budget.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is urging the government to avoid a band-aid solution in fixing home care package waiting lists and residential care.
“It’s like a tiger chasing its tail here,” he told reporters.
“There has been some money put back in. But that’s only because so much money was cut by Scott Morrison and we’ve been playing catch up ever since.”