Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped a lashing from veteran reporter Leigh Sales, who savaged his handling of the aged care crisis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped a lashing from veteran reporter Leigh Sales, who savaged his handling of the aged care crisis.

‘You have failed’: Sales slams PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly clashed with the ABC's Leigh Sales during a fiery post-budget interview on 7.30.

Throughout the discussion, the pair frequently interrupted each other and bother were visibly frustrated at times, but the interview came to a head when Sales grilled the PM on aged care during the coronavirus crisis.

Sales told Mr Morrison that three-quarters of Australia's COVID-19 fatalities - a total of 673 people - had been linked to aged care facilities, which are the responsibility of the federal government, and demanded to know how the government managed to "fail so comprehensively to prevent this tragedy?"

Mr Morrison responded by saying the Commonwealth government had provided an extra $1.5 billion in support to assist the aged care sector as it dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic but was interrupted by the veteran broadcaster who asked why 673 still died.

"If you let me finish," Mr Morrison hit back, while Sales retorted: "As long as you address the question."

"I'm talking about what we have been doing to address the COVID pandemic in aged care. I'm asking why you have failed?" Sales said.

Mr Morrison said he didn't agree with Sales' assessment, arguing that eight per cent of Australia's aged care facilities had coronavirus cases, compared with 56 per cent in the UK.

But Sales insisted 673 deaths was a "terrible result" and claimed the government responded to the unfolding pandemic in an "ad hoc" way.

Sales then quoted the aged care royal commission, which found that part of the problem with the aged care crisis was "bandaid fixes on the run" which meant underlying problems weren't addressed.

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Leigh Sales accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of failing on aged care during tonight’s 7.30.
Leigh Sales accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of failing on aged care during tonight’s 7.30.

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She then claimed there had been 18 reports or inquiries into aged care since 1997 and 12 in the past three years alone.

"Time after time we hear of neglect, indifference, malnutrition, festering wounds a lack of respect for human dignity. Isn't the only conclusion, a rational person can draw from all of that, is over the years our political leaders have not cared enough about the elderly to stop the buck passing and to somehow end this sustained political neglect?" Sales said.

Mr Morrison described her words as a "very unkind assessment", arguing the government faced a tough challenge as aged care funding increased by $1 billion a year.

"It is a challenging environment and the workforce training is continuing to increase but the challenges continue to raise and we're committed to respond to that Royal Commission in the aged care inquiry as we said last night and we will do that properly when we get those recommendations," Mr Morrison said.

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A coronavirus outbreak devastated Sydney’s Newmarch House. Picture: Adam Yip
A coronavirus outbreak devastated Sydney’s Newmarch House. Picture: Adam Yip

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"Since we have been in government we have tripled the number of in-home aged care places available in this Budget the single largest increase in in-home aged care going on any one occasion.

"Now there is 185,000 in-home aged care places now, there were just over 60,000 when we came to government."

Sales then referred to the report of the Royal Commission into aged care, which claimed that it was "unclear" whether lessons learnt from an early outbreak in Newmarch House in Sydney were shared before those in aged care were put at risk in Victoria, asking "how is that possible?"

Mr Morrison disputed that claim, arguing issues were identified and put into reports "over many weeks and many months" which "ensured we avoided a far more severe outcome".

The pair also covered a range of other topics including the federal budget and US President Donald Trump's leadership during his coronavirus battle.

The fiery interview also caused a stir on Twitter, with former Labor Senator for NSW Doug Cameron criticising the PM's "smirking performance".

Originally published as 'You have failed': Sales slams PM



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