Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has responded to reports of exploitation at retirement villages across the country.

A joint Fairfax-ABC investigation has revealed a web of complicated contracts, oppressive rules and crippling fees facing retirees.

“I sat there and watched the program and thought; ‘How do you justify? How do you justify a $10 fee to provide a key to someone who has locked their key inside?’ Because we've all done it,” Mr Wyatt said.

“And it irritated me actually, to be quite truthful.”

Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson  said the scandal should be an opportunity for the Federal Government to revive the 2007 recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee to improve protection for residents.

“I think there are things that can be done fairly immediately,” she said on Tuesday.

“Given that the parliamentary committee was 10 years ago, something needs to be done.”

The 2007 review recommended:

  • A statutory supervisor be set up alongside federal, state and territory consumer protection ministers
  • Federal, state and territory attorneys-general look for ways to harmonise legislation
  • The ACCC join with state and territory fair trading offices to examine retirement village contracts, including a review of exit fees and other fees, and whether they should be abolished

Mr Wyatt said it would not take another 10 years for him to take action.

“I now want to revisit that report, look at what the detail was and then look at what options I can take forward, and certainly have discussions with colleagues — because I'm very keen and have always been committed to looking after an ageing population,” he said.

But the Council on the Aging (COTA) says the 2007 recommendations would not solve all problems, due to the effect of further federal legislative changes in 2012 and this year.

“Retirement village contracts are quite complex financial relationships, more akin to a financial services product,” COTA chief Ian Yates said.

“The Commonwealth has to rethink its reluctance to legislate in this area — these are products that would be more effectively regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.”