Australia politics live news updates: question time puts aged care crisis in spotlight as nation records at least 57 Covid deaths | Australia news









We’ve had a few different numbers of aged care deaths bandied about in parliament today.

Considering the scrutiny rightly being applied to the Covid situation affecting some of the most vulnerable Australians, it’d be good to get some clarity – here’s what we know.

In Senate estimates earlier, department officials said there had been 691 deaths in aged care in 2022. That’s compared with 282 in the entirety of 2021, and 685 in 2020, showing just how the Omicron wave has ripped through the sector.

But Labor claims the number is actually 743 deaths in 2022.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese and Labor’s shadow minister for aged care services Clare O’Neil both pointed to this figure in Question Time.

But then health and aged care minister Greg Hunt told question time a completely different number – he claimed there were 711 aged care deaths in 2022. Prime minister Scott Morrison also used this number.

Labor claims the 743 number comes from comparing health department statistics from 31 December, 2021 and 15 February, 2022. On 31 December, the statistics showed 915 deaths in aged care – compared to 1658 deaths reported on 15 February. That’s a difference of 743, which is where Labor got their number from.

We’ve contacted the health department for an official number to confirm.

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The New Zealand government has said it would be concerned at any moves to ramp up Australia’s deportations policy.

It comes amid moves by the Morrison government to pass the migration amendment (strengthening the character test) bill.

The proposed bill would lower the bar for the failure of the test so a person convicted of a “designated offence”, such as violence or breaching a court order, is deemed to be of bad character, making visa cancellation more likely, although a discretion not to do so remains.

When contacted for a response, New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said:


New Zealand has raised the issue of deportations a number of times with Australia. We don’t agree with the policy and would be concerned at any moves to strengthen it. New Zealand accepts that Australia has the right to deport people.

However, we are concerned that Australia continues to send people to New Zealand who have never lived here and have no family or support networks at all.

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Another federal MP has tested positive for Covid while in parliament, with the Nationals MP Kevin Hogan announcing he has contracted the virus.

It comes after the Labor MP Anika Wells said she tested positive on Wednesday.

Hogan, the assistant minister to the deputy prime minister, said he returned a rapid test result on Tuesday, and had been isolating.

He said he had “very mild” symptoms so far.

Following Wells’ Covid diagnosis, Labor is also asking all their MPs who were in the party’s caucus meeting on Tuesday to get a PCR test by the end of the day.

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