With Tony Eastley and Sabra Lane
1 May 2013
E & OE
Subjects: National Disability Insurance Scheme
The Federal Opposition says it supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme but says the funding for it should come from consolidated revenue, as recommended by the Productivity Commission. The Opposition’s spokesman for disabilities, carers and the voluntary sector is Mitch Fifield. He’s speaking here to chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.
We don’t know if the Government is going to announce full funding arrangements for the NDIS today. If we’re to believe the brief that the Government has put out over the last two days, the levy looks like it would be lucky to cover half the cost of the NDIS. It doesn’t look like we’ll have a full costing. We call on the Government to come clean and show today where the money will come from.
Where do you think the money should come from? Because the Coalition has said that it has given bipartisan support for this proposal.
Well we think the money should come from where the Productivity Commission said it should come from which is consolidated revenue. In fact that’s where the current Government, until two days ago, thought that the money should come from. In fact, until two days ago, Julia Gillard had promised that there was enough money in consolidated revenue to fund the NDIS. We’re meant to believe that she woke up a few days ago and thought, ‘oh, oops, sorry, forget everything I’ve previously said about funding the NDIS from consolidated revenue. Forget everything I’ve previously said about there not being a need for a levy. We’ve actually spent all the money we have. We’ve forgotten about people with disabilities. We’ve put them last. So we’re now having to look at an emergency levy’. I don’t think that sends a terrific message.
The Queensland LNP member Dave Gibson this morning says he actually thinks this kind of levy proposal is a good idea. He says he’s the child of deaf parents and he doesn’t mind at all an increase in the Medicare levy to pay for it.
Well all of us want there to be an NDIS. Every government in Australia, every opposition in Australia wants an NDIS. People with disability need a better deal and they’ve had to wait far too long for that. The issue here is that the government of the day promised that they had made full provision for the NDIS and could do so from existing revenues. The problem is that the Prime Minister has spent money on just about everything she can possibly think of apart from people with disabilities. And so they’ll come out today and no doubt will say ‘Look, we’re terribly sorry. We forgot about people with disabilities. We didn’t put any money aside. Hence the need for an emergency levy’.
Well come September, disability care could become your problem, or your problem to find the money for. Given the Opposition has said that it will repeal the carbon tax, the mining tax and increase a levy for its paid parental leave scheme, where will you find the money in consolidated revenue to pay for it?
Sabra the onus is on the Government, firstly, today to indicate how they intend to pay for it. A Coalition government will always be a better steward of money than the Labor Party and we will always be in a much better position to competently introduce and fund major reform like an NDIS.
But five months out from the poll we’re still no clearer, Senator Fifield, how you would pay for it.
Well Sabra we firstly need to see how the Government propose to pay for it. We need to see what will be in the budget. Now we don’t know if what the Government announce today will fully fund the NDIS or partly fund the NDIS. We don’t know if what they announce today will be the final iteration. At the moment it seems to be changing every day. Will there be a new iteration in two days’ time. Will they have a different proposition again on budget night. We want to see what the Government propose.
The Opposition’s spokesman for disabilities, carers and the voluntary Mitch Fifield, speaking there with Sabra Lane.
Media contact: Sarah Bridger
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