20 August 2015
E & OE
My question is to the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Fifield. I refer to the Minister’s interview on Sky News yesterday, where he refused three times to confirm that the NDIS will be delivered in full and on time-that is, by 1 July 2019. Will he now guarantee that the NDIS will be delivered in full and on time?
Thank you, Senator Moore, for your question. This Government has an absolute ironclad commitment to the NDIS. This Government has an absolute ironclad guarantee to deliver the NDIS in full. And colleagues need look no further than the budget papers to see that the funding profile to deliver the NDIS is laid out over the forward estimates.
Colleagues will also be aware that the NDIS currently has seven trial sites. Colleagues will also be aware that to give effect to the full NDIS requires the negotiation of six bilateral agreements with states. The Australian Capital Territory already has a bilateral agreement in place for the trial site. It is a whole-of-jurisdiction trial, so this jurisdiction is already on transition to full scheme. Western Australia, colleagues will know, is following a different path in relation to trial. There is an NDIS-run trial site. And there is a Western Australian government-run trial site. There will be a comparative evaluation of those two trial sites, which will help inform the Western Australian Government’s decision as to how they join the NDIS.
So there are six very important, very detailed, very complex bilateral agreements which I am in the process of negotiating with those jurisdictions. Each negotiation, as you would expect in bilateral agreements, will follow its own path. As I indicated to Senator Siewert a couple of days ago in this place, because she raised New South Wales specifically, that particular bilateral negotiation is going extremely well, and I hope to have some good news for colleagues in the very near future.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Thank you, Minister, for the explanation of the process. It is useful, but I want to make sure that that ironclad guarantee you mentioned does actually relate to the timing and that that promise of 1 July 2019 in last year’s budget will in fact be kept.
I think we have to be clear about what is happening here, and that is that the ALP is suggesting that this Government is looking for ways to either slow down negotiations or slow down the rollout of the NDIS. The Government is not looking for ways to slow down either. What we are intent on doing is making sure we deliver the best NDIS possible. Quite frankly, I am not focused on commentary in relation to the NDIS and this Government. What I am focused on is delivery.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer to the reports that the ERC last week failed to resolve the funding for the NDIS in New South Wales, with the meeting described as ‘unbelievably fractious’ and ‘very divided’. Is the NDIS rollout about to be the latest victim of the Government’s chaos and division?
Order on my left! Senator Moore, could you repeat that question. I did not hear the completion of that.
The first bit was about the ERC. Mr President, did you hear-
Yes, the final part of your question.
The last bit was: is the NDIS rollout about to be the latest victim of the Government’s chaos and division?
I reject the premise upon which the question is based, and I also reject the conclusion that Senator Moore reaches. Let me point out in relation to New South Wales, since that has been the jurisdiction most often quoted of late, that only a matter of a couple of months ago I signed an agreement with the New South Wales Minister Ajaka to roll out the NDIS beyond the existing Hunter trial site in Western Sydney. That will be the first location where the NDIS rolls out beyond the existing trial sites for 2,000 young people with disabilities in Western Sydney. And that will commence very shortly. That is great news. I do not think anyone who has witnessed me in this portfolio, or the Government over the last two years in this portfolio, would genuinely question our commitment to deliver the NDIS in full.
Vincent Tulley | 0409 244 865 | firstname.lastname@example.org