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Seniors told they don't need to vote in Batman bi-election

The by-election for the federal seat of Batman was marred by a last-minute scandal on Saturday, with reports elderly voters received phone calls telling them they did not have to vote.

In response, Labor launched a phone call and SMS blitz urging senior voters to attend polling centres.

A campaign spokesman decried the move.

"Lying to elderly people is as low as it gets," he said.

"We're encouraging all Batman residents to ignore these dirty tricks and exercise their right to vote."

The electorate has a high proportion of elderly voters, who are traditionally more supportive of Labor.

Labor has declared victory in the Batman by-election, upsetting the Greens who were the favourites to win the inner-Melbourne seat and have now conceded defeat.

Former ACTU president Ged Kearney was on track to defeat the Greens' Alex Bhathal, with the ALP winning back voters from the Greens in the southern part of the electorate.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of David Feeney, who was unable to find documents proving he was not a foreign citizen.

The seat in Melbourne's inner-north takes in trendy suburbs such as Northcote and Clifton Hill, and stretches to Preston and Reservoir further north.

It was once a Labor heartland, but gentrification has changed the demographics of the area.

The Greens campaign focused on Queensland's Adani coal mine project and Australia's refugee policies, however Ms Bhathal told ABC radio housing was the number one concern of voters across the electorate.

Her campaign had been marred by internal party leaks, alleging bullying.

The Australian Electoral Commission says more than 16,500 people cast an early vote, with another 14,500 registering for a postal vote.

Source: ABC

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The Greens Propose A New Aged Care Statutory Body

The Greens have called for an independent statutory body to oversee accreditation and complaints in aged care.

The new authority would also be responsible for benchmarking care costs, developing the sector’s workforce, investigating innovative models of care and providing advice to consumers.

The long-term recommendation comes as part of a broad-reaching discussion paper based on consultations with the sector and consumer groups.

The Greens’ health spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert, conceded that the body authority was an ambitious idea but she hopes the concept will generate constructive debate.

Senator Siewert said an independent aged care body would also be able to provide high quality advice to the government.

“One of the biggest problems we are having at the moment is that the government does not recognise, or does not acknowledge, that there is a need for substantial change from a funding and regulatory point of view,” she said.

“The management of the aged care system by the government is flawed but the department that is providing them with advice is also running the flawed system. That leads to obstructions and potential conflicts of interest.”

The Senator added that the proposed a body would help to ensure that the accreditation of residential aged care is focused on quality improvement and not punitive measures.

“A lot of providers have expressed concerns about the way the assessment process is carried out,” she said.

“They have said that they would like the process to have more input from their peers because they say that some of the assessment is done by people without much hands-on experience in aged care provision.”

In the long term, the Greens believe aged care consumers who have the means should be encouraged to contribute more to the cost of their care.

But Senator Siewert stressed that the system must remain sustainable and equitable.

“We do recognise that we need to be really careful in doing this,” she said. “We absolutely want to ensure that there is support for everybody, especially those people with lower incomes.

“I think there is room for change and we need to think about separating the costs of care and accommodation but we want everyone to be assured quality care.”

In the short term, the Greens want to see more funding for residential and community care packages in this week’s federal budget.

The party is also calling for $100 million to boost wages for care staff and $15 million for a national trial of teaching nursing homes.

Click here to see the Greens' discussion paper.

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