When Tony Abbott became Prime Minister he made an extraordinary decision not to appoint a Minister for Ageing even though the entire planet faces a huge crisis in which the population is ageing faster than at any time in the history of humanity.
He did appoint a Minister for Aged Care, but his duties were confined to Nursing Homes and Home Nursing Services, a tiny fraction of the vast scope of Ageing.
It was an enormous blunder among many other unexplainable disasters which revealed a politician totally out of his depth.
He had a mental blind spot that caused him to completely misunderstand that Ageing covers a wide range of economic and social issues.
Some of these are crucial matters such as housing, transport, pensions, superannuation, retirement savings, mature age employment, skills training, taxation, health, technology, recreation, life long learning, volunteering, philanthropy, elder abuse, intergenerational partnerships and age discrimination, in addition to aged care.
Clearly, all these issues cover a wide range of ministries and many government departments.
So a Minister for Ageing would be a Strategy Coordinator working closely with ministerial colleagues in implementing a long term plan for Ageing.
Last year, the Longevity Forum, of which I am Chairman, presented to the nation a Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. In it, we recommended that a Minister for Ageing must be located within the Prime Minister’s office working in direct partnership with him to originate a strategy to turn ageing into an asset.
Tony Abbott ignored our recommendation as he continued in his belief that ageing is simply a matter of health.
Had he continued in office, Australia would have stumbled into an ageing crisis that would have hit us like a bolt of lightning that had the potential to bankrupt the nation.
Now, the challenge lies before Malcolm Turnbull. The fate of Australia now rests with him.
We can continue to stagger towards disaster or become the first nation in the world to prove that Ageing can be an asset.
We have the capacity to release the enormous potential of millions of Seniors who have been neglectfully pensioned off instead of using their wisdom, loyalty and reliability to create the world’s most modern and enlightened nation enjoying sustainable prosperity.
Yours at Large
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