Loophole leaves 4000 elderly in limbo
HOUSING Minister Mick de Brenni has slammed retirement care providers for not alerting the Government to a loophole in its aged care reforms that would have left up to 4000 elderly Queenslanders worse off.
The loophole meant providers did not have to stick by new rules regarding the payment of exit entitlements - money left over after the operator's exit fee is paid - within 18 months if the units concerned were freehold.
That money is often used by the elderly or their families to pay for their next stage of care.
"In 2017 we passed legislation to have Queensland's leading laws that make exit arrangements from retirement villages fair and mandated an 18-month maximum payout date," Mr de Brenni told The Courier-Mail.
"It wasn't until after the parliament passed that legislation that operators declared they felt it didn't apply to a cohort of retirees.
"We were very clear when we introduced the bill and all the way through the debate that we wanted all retirement village residents to have these same fair rights to end the institutionalised financial abuse of Queensland's most vulnerable.
"I think the operators ought to have known, or did know, in 2017 when we were consulting with them. They have been resistant to this change for a decade.
"Residents are rightly angry that the operators of retirement villages who make multibillion-dollar profits obviously knew that they were going to be able to leverage this loophole to withhold money from people at an extraordinary time of need."
The Palaszczuk Government is moving to retrospectively close the loop hole as part of new laws due to be passed after parliament resumes next month to ensure the new laws will apply to every retirement village resident at the same time so no one is worse off.
The change will ensure about 2201 units are no longer exempt, impacting between 3500 to 4000 people, Mr de Brenni said.
"You only need to read the annual reports of these operators to see that they have got the financial capacity to do this," he said.