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Tag Archives: NDIS


Posted July 26, 2012 15:36:52

It’s a pity about the timing of last weekend’s Melbourne by-election. It’s a pity it wasn’t being held this weekend, and in a seat where the governing Liberal National Party was forced to contest.

While it was useful academically to get a sense of the relative strengths of the ALP and the Greens in inner-Melbourne, it would be far more illuminating right now to get a steer on how the electorate feels about the near collapse of the disability insurance system.

On the face of it, the failure of the richest states to cough up a relative pittance towards the trials appears to be the dumbest – and meanest – act by leading politicians in a very long time.

Perhaps there is a plausible explanation to the intransigence of Barry O’Farrell, Ted Baillieu and Campbell Newman; perhaps it does go beyond the suspicion that they are merely playing a political game, denying the Prime Minister a “win” no matter what the issue.

If it does go beyond that, then so far the premiers have done a lousy job of putting the record straight.

The most offensive contribution came from Premier Newman, pleading poor while presiding over resource-rich Queensland. Even at its most basic – the argument that they don’t want to lock themselves into a future funding model that will become unaffordable when it is extended – doesn’t hold water.

What’s wrong with a separate arrangement simply allowing trials to go ahead, with a view to thrashing out the longer term deal down the track, especially given that everybody agrees the scheme is first class and essential?

Make no mistake, the politics of this are all negative for the state premiers. This is not a situation like asylum seekers, or the mining tax, where the competing parties can at least make an argument on policy direction. There is no dispute here, no issue and no alternative proposals being put.

Now, whenever a state premier spends $10m or more, and they often commit to these sorts of sums between budgets, that money will be lined up against money for the disabled. The premiers’ priorities will be put to the test every time: no matter whether it’s money for public events like a grand prix, money for lobbyists or overseas trips, the comparison can and will be made as a regular test of the values of the government.

Here’s one hot off the press. Just this week, the Baillieu Government committed to spending – according to media reports – $5m to install automated boom gates at a level crossing in well-off Brighton. That was after spending $2m on a feasibility study.

The politics are baffling to say the least, but not inconsistent with the level of public discourse that the country has been enduring for some time now.

What on earth drove the premiers to think they could go down this path and emerge unscathed politically?

The alarm bells would surely have been ringing if advisers were listening to 2SM’s John Laws as he interviewed the Minister for Families and Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin.

After listening to her presentation, he said: “I really don’t understand how anybody could argue with that …”, and again after a pause, “I really do not understand.”

“It’s a tragedy,” he said, “because, I mean, as Australians … we are a very compassionate race of people … we should be looking after people who simply can’t look after themselves.

“This place is not Bangladesh, it’s Australia; one of the greatest countries – the greatest in my mind – in the world, yet we can’t look after people properly with disabilities.”

A test of the State Government’s strength in Victoria would have been interesting even before the rejection of the disabilities insurance scheme.

Even though the Baillieu Government won just a single seat majority at the November 2010 election, the shock of the defeat of a well-established Labor Government had most pundits assuming the LNP would grab incumbency by both hands and consolidate for years to come. Few of them believe that any more.

The decline started with the virtual neutering of one of the government’s finest performers, the deputy premier, Peter Ryan, over the plot to get rid of the chief of police, Simon Overland.

Along the way there were extremely messy pay negotiations with well-regarded public sector workers like teachers and nurses.

Then the coup de grace: the budget decision to cut into TAFE in some of the most politically sensitive regions in the state.

Now the momentum is running against the government and the opposition leader, Daniel Andrews – considered by some up until now as a stop gap leader – is re-energised and hitting targets.

None will be as easy to hit as the one erected when the premiers of the biggest states shirked their responsibility to the disabled.

Barrie Cassidy is the presenter of ABC programs Insiders and Offsiders. View his full profile here.

What a great achievement, if it could be done.  But will the Government rush into disaster by pushing an already over-stretched public service to rollout a huge, complex scheme in record time? Will it be a repeat of the roof-insulation and school capital works program fiascos?


Thousands to benefit as $8bn National Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out

  • by: By Malcolm Farr, National Political Editor
  • From:
  • April 30, 2012 5:08PM


  • National Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out early
  • More than 10,000 people set to benefit from mid-2013
  • People with permanent disability will receive lifetime care


Related Coverage

THE National Disability Insurance Scheme will start a year ahead of schedule with 10,000 people set to benefit from mid-2013, it was revealed today.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the early start to be followed by a further 10,000 to be covered in 2014.

“The timeframe announced today means the first stage of an NDIS will be delivered a full year ahead of the timetable set out by the Productivity Commission,” the Prime Minister said.

“For the first time in Australia’s history people with significant and permanent disability will receive lifetime care and support, regardless of how they acquired their disability.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has previously backed the scheme and today supported progress on its introduction while repeating an offer of Opposition help in its implementation.

However, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey questioned the financing of the insurance policy, weakening the bipartisan sentiment of his leader.

“Look, the NDIS is a very worthy scheme but it sounds to me like the dying days of a government when they make big heroic announcements about massive programs and they won’t tell you how they’re going to pay for it,” Mr Hockey said.

“This is the problem, this is the legacy of Gough Whitlam, it looks like it’s going to be a legacy of Julia Gillard.

“Australians have to pay for it. It’s the fundamental point and I expect if the Government is going to claim that it is proceeding with the National Disability Insurance Scheme it will tell Australians how it’s going to pay for it.”

The scheme will cost some $8 billion a year to fully implement, with a payment of $67,000 a year for an individual.

Mr Hockey said that amounted to an extra $1000 a year in tax for taxpayers.

The Prime Minister added the scheme would be put together with the help of the states but wouldn’t further elaborate on funding.

“Well, you’ll see the provision we’re making for the launch sites in the Budget next week,” Ms Gillard told reporters.

“On working with the states and territories, at the last Council of Australian Governments meeting we actually took some positive steps on working together.

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