• PMA 1990

    South Australia - nothing matters more.

More About Stirling

Welcome

I am one of twelve Senators elected to represent South Australia's interests in the federal parliament.

My role includes scrutinising the work of the federal government, introducing and debating legislation and instigating and participating in committees and inquiries on specific issues and legislation.

An important part of the job is hearing your views on issues of importance to our state and hearing your views on where the federal government may need to direct - or redirect - its focus.

My office also has a team of people who can assist South Australians to navigate any federal matters of a personal or business nature. Please use the contact form here, or call us on (08) 8272 7575, or email Senator.Griff@aph.gov.au

My Portfolios

Aged Care

COVID-19 has affected many of us in the community and it has profoundly affected our senior Australians in aged care. Thousands of senior Australians have been isolated from loved ones as COVID-19 restrictions came in.

685 Senior Australians in residential aged care died from COVID-19 and a further eight dying from the virus while receiving home care out of the total of 909 Australians who have died from the virus. These figures are shocking, as the large loss of life could have been prevented.

Reviews into outbreaks into four aged care homes revealed a response that was severely lacking in preparedness and reactive with suboptimal infection prevention and control capacity and capability and failures in leadership and effective management.

A total of $1.6 billion was allocated by Government to assist the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19.

The many weaknesses in our aged care system have not been caused by COVID-19 – they have been exposed in glaring focus by the pandemic.

The aged care system has long been broken, evidenced by the need for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to examine the systemic issues facing the sector including chronic underfunding, under-skilling and underpayment of staff, no minimum staffing requirements, no minimum training qualifications and no transparency with how $21 billion paid to the sector is spent.

There are still 60,000 senior Australians waiting for a home care package - especially for the most acute level of assistance.

We know that counsel assisting the Royal Commission has recommended that the waitlists for home care be cleared by the end of 2021.The consequences of the long wait lists for home care is traumatic and often comes with dire consequences.

Many elderly Australians wait up to two years for their home-care package following assessment. By this time their condition has often deteriorated and many families can no longer care for them - or they can no longer care for themselves in order to live independently and are often forced to go into residential care.

Every year a staggering 19,000 people who were approved for home care are forced into residential aged care before they receive a package.


Our senior Australians should have the right to be receive care and assistance in their own homes.

Our senior Australians deserve respectful, affordable, accessible and safe aged-care options that are offered in a timely manner.

It should not have taken the pandemic to make aged care a political priority.

The wellbeing of our Senior Australians has long been a priority of mine.

In December 2019 I moved amendments for publication of staff ratios and for the financial transparency of funds paid to residential aged care. Those amendments failed because the Government and One Nation failed to support them.

On 12 June 2020 I introduced the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Financial Transparency) Bill 2020 that would require residential aged-care providers to submit an annual report to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. This report would show us how much income each provider is receiving and the sources of that funding. It will also show how much every facility is spending: how much they are spending on food; how much is being spent on medicine; how much is being spent on medical supplies; and how much is spent on training.

It will also show us how many staff are employed for each classification and how much the executives are being paid.

Financial transparency is a reasonable requirement for any sector receiving tens of billions of dollars of public funds.

The inquiry into the Bill is still ongoing.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care quality and Safety interim report titled Neglect— underscored how serious the problems in this system are. In the scathing interim report, the inquiry found the system had failed to care for "our older, often very vulnerable, citizens".

Soon the Royal Commission will hand down its final report, which will require a major overhaul of the current broken system. Once it does, we expect the Government to introduce legislation that acts decisively on all its recommendations – no more excuses.

I will work to ensure that the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety are delivered in full.

Minimum staffing levels should be implemented as a matter of urgency to protect senior Australians in care on every shift, with the right mix of skills and qualifications will play a critical part of providing quality care.

Improved access and quality of aged care services, including transparency in staffing ratios and transparent reporting is key to making aged care services accountable.

Consumer Affairs

Australia’s Consumer Laws need changing.

Three children have died since 2013 and 20 children are hospitalised each week in Australia after swallowing button batteries alone.

Last year the Australian Football League issued an urgent product safety recall following the 2020 Grand Final for 31,000 LED wristbands powered by button butteries that were not properly secured, representing a significant risk of harm, particularly to children.

In December last year the Government finally announced a mandatory safety standard for button batteries with industry given 18 months the comply with the new standard.

However, Australians would be shocked to know that mandatory safety standards only exist for around 45 product types in Australia. That is a very small group of products.

For every other product, consumer law is reactive. We wait until something bad happens before we take any form of action.

Australia has more safety recalls than any other OECD country—around 650 each and every year. But fewer than half of recalled products are returned. The other half, almost two million unsafe products, are still in people's homes. That is why unsafe products cause more than 700 deaths and an incredible 52,000 injuries in Australia every year costing at least $5 billion to the economy. That is totally unacceptable.

But it's not surprising. There is no law in Australia that prevents a business from selling an unsafe product. 

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is reactive in the absence of a general product safety provision. A general product safety provision in the ACL would place a clear onus on sellers to ensure the safety of products they sell to Australians – it is common sense.

This would mean businesses are obligated to ensure the products they sell are actually safe.

Many other countries already have such obligations. Britain has had a general safety provision for more than 30 years. The EU implemented a similar rule in 1992. Even the United States has a provision for children's products. But not Australia.

A general product safety provision would create incentives for businesses not to sell unsafe product and it would empower regulators to ensure safety, allowing unsafe products to be withdrawn before any potential tragedy occurs.

It would also help Australian manufacturers, giving international consumers more confidence in the quality of our products.

I have been calling on the Federal Government to introduce a general product safety provision in the ACL in parliament and this year I will be introducing a bill to do that, in the absence of any action from Government.

There are plenty of good reasons to support a general safety provision, but surely the most important one is that it will keep our children safe.

Gambling

It is well known that Australians are by far the world's biggest losers when it comes to gambling losses per capita.

Australians lost nearly $25 billion in 2017-18, a five per cent increase from the previous year.

Whilst pokies losses still outweigh the losses from sports and race betting, those sports and race betting losses have been increasing.

Sports betting losses increased by 16.3 per cent and race betting losses increased by 7.1 per cent in 2017-18, fuelled by heavy advertising and the ease and growth of online betting.

I am critical of the proliferation of online gambling which has exploded during the pandemic and I continue to push for federal reform to protect people experiencing gambling harm.

The pandemic crisis has only served to further exacerbate the scourge of gambling addiction at a time of heightened stress, anxiety and depression for vulnerable Australians – all stressors for people experiencing gambling harm.

Several online bookies reported large revenue increases during the three months from April to the end of June 2020 as well as an increase in share prices since the global outbreak of COVID-19.

In March 2020 I moved a motion and wrote to the Government calling for the Government to introduce a moratorium on gambling ads during the pandemic crisis to protect vulnerable and people experiencing gambling harm and to introduce legislation to ban the use of credit cards to pay for online bets as a matter of urgency.

The Government failed to act and the Government’s failure to act has had terrible consequences.

Online gamblers are blowing more money during the pandemic with research from the Australian Gambling Research Centre showing men aged 18 to 34 made up 79 per cent of new online gambling account holders with their median monthly spend increasing from $687 to $1,075.

Other key findings include even with limited access to venues, overall, participants gambled more often during Covid-19 with the proportion who gambled 4 or more times a week increased from 23% to 32% and 79% of participants were classed as at risk or already experiencing gambling-related harm.

This is an area that I will continue to lobby Government for change.

More Portfolios

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