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Issue #1839      September 12, 2018

Put aged care before corporate welfare

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says it’s time for the top for-profit aged care providers, which accept over $2 billion in taxpayer subsidies, to use the funding to guarantee quality care for all their elderly residents – and for the government to cease what can only be described as “corporate welfare”.

ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler gave evidence at the Senate Economics References Committee investigating the financial and tax practices of Australia’s for-profit aged care providers in Melbourne, telling the Inquiry any taxpayer funding for aged care providers must be made transparent and accountable to the public who provide those funds.

“We understand that for-profit providers, which are publicly listed companies, have a responsibility to their shareholders, but this must not be at the expense of providing safe staffing and quality care for their elderly nursing home residents,” Ms Butler said.

“The big-six for-profit providers (BUPA, Opal, Allity, Estia, Regis and Japara) received $2.17 billion in government subsidies – 70 percent of their total revenue. Yet taxpayers would be alarmed and dismayed to discover that instead of being used for better staffing and better care for their mums and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers in nursing homes, those generous government subsidies are lining the pockets of the Directors and Management Executives of the wealthiest for-profit providers, many of which are foreign-entities. For example, the five non-executive directors of Regis alone, were paid $34,178,473 last financial year.

“It’s only fair that the government stops this corporate welfare. Australians expect their taxes to be put to good use for safe and effective aged care, not to be contributing to millions of dollars in wages and bonuses for directors and key management executives.

“The Tax Justice Network has found that these same top-six providers also use complex corporate structures to minimise or avoid paying tax, even though they keep receiving government subsidies.

“At a time when aged care is in crisis, when family members tell us harrowing stories about the lack of staff in nursing homes, and our members tell us they’ve reached breaking point, the public has a right to ask why their taxes are being diverted away from safe care – it’s clear these providers are putting their profits before people. And the government is doing nothing to stop it.

“The ANMF believes it’s time to end the era of ‘corporate welfare’ and ensure that billions in taxpayer funding for aged care is made transparent and accountable to Australian taxpayers.”

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