Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES
MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN THE SENATE
Senator for Victoria
ABC News 24
With Julie Doyle
30 April 2014
E & OE
Subjects: NDIS, Paid Parental Leave
Mitch Fifield, you’re in Geelong for the opening of the National Disability Insurance Agency Headquarters. When it comes to the rollout of the NDIS, is the Government going to stick to the previously agreed timetable?
The timetable for the rollout of the NDIS is embedded in a series of intergovernmental agreements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, and it can only be changed with agreement.
Next to that, the Board of the Agency has commissioned KPMG to do some work, to look at the capability review which had previously been announced to see if that has any implications for the current timetable. And if there are any implications then the independent board of the Agency will advise all Australian governments on that.
So does that mean there could be some delay or any changes there then?
We all want to see the best foundations laid for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We want to see it stand the test of time. And the Board of the Agency will provide governments with advice as to what the optimal timetable is. We want to make sure that this works and that should be the guiding principle for all of us. But we’ll follow where the evidence that the Agency provides leads.
I want to be clear. We’re not looking for ways to cut the NDIS. We’re going to deliver this within the existing funding envelope. And we’re not looking for ways to delay the NDIS. The Prime Minister recently signed an agreement with Western Australia for a trial site there. There’ll be a trial site commencing on the 1st of July in the Northern Territory, and on the 1st of July in the ACT. So we’re getting on with the job of rolling out the NDIS. But if the body charged with delivering the NDIS finds that there are issues then they will provide that advice to all Australian governments, because this is a partnership between Commonwealth and state and territory governments.
Now let’s talk about another major policy, and that’s the paid parental leave policy. Tony Abbott has agreed to reduce the threshold for this scheme from $150,000 to $100,000. Some of your colleagues have publicly expressed concerns about it. Did you think the scheme was too generous?
The Paid Parental Leave Scheme is an important productivity measure. It’s not something that we view as welfare. We think that it should be a workplace entitlement. If we are to deliver important social reforms like the National Disability Insurance Scheme then we’ve got to look for ways to improve the productive capacity of the nation. And one of the ways to do that is through a good paid parental leave scheme.
But what about that wage cap though? Did you think that offering $75,000 – a six month replacement wage – did you think that that was too generous?
I think it’s a good plan that we took to the last two elections. I’ve seen speculation today in the papers but look, it’s speculation. We took a policy, we took a plan to the last two elections and the Budget is on the 13th of May and I’m not going to be in the business of speculating. The Budget is coming in two weeks.
Did you personally though, Mitch Fifield, have any concerns about the scheme?
I think it’s a good scheme and the Prime Minister deserves credit for providing leadership in this area, for recognising that it’s important to do whatever we can to encourage and support women to do a few things. To have children, but also that they’re in a good position to look after their kids and to get back into the workforce.
Is this an embarrassing back down for the Prime Minister though? He’s committed to this over and over calling it his signature policy.
Be in no doubt, the Prime Minister is committed to a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s what we will put to the parliament.
Senator Fifield, we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much.
Thanks very much.
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