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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12582


Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (09:43): I am speaking today to add my voice, together with many of my constituents' voices, to the Every Australian Counts campaign for the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme—a federally funded scheme that will provide people with a disability and their carers and families with the regular care, support, therapy and equipment that they need. The challenge that faces all of us here will be taking this bipartisan dream—bipartisan, I am pleased to say—and turning it into a functioning and funded policy. The coalition, whose advocacy in this area has been very ably conducted by Senator Mitch Fifield, supports the proposal that supporting people with disabilities should be core government business.

The present system for disability welfare is as inefficient as it is limited; as frayed as it is broken. It is a system where funding is directed to service providers rather than towards the people who need that care themselves or, indeed, towards their carers. If the service providers are not able to meet the requirements of the person suffering from disabilities, that is too bad; if they are, then join the queue. These challenges are multiplied when moving across local boundaries, let alone to a different state. The concept of a national system, as the Productivity Commission has recommended, would see all Australians contributing to and, should they need it, having access to a well-funded, individualised scheme for their own care where individuals needing support would receive vouchers which they would then be able to spend on service providers who over time would start to provide competitively the services that individuals need.

This scheme will be ambitious and far reaching—indeed, as far reaching as compulsory superannuation, expecting to cover over 360,000 Australians. Most importantly and challengingly, it will seek to double funding from $6 billion to $12 billion towards disability services. After all, we have to recognise that the biggest problem with disability services in Australia has been the lack of funding. The opposition, as the House knows, it committed to working with the government to achieve this outcome, and it has been encouraging, too, to see this concept of a national disability insurance scheme endorsed at COAG. Many of my constituents have raised this matter with me directly, whether it is Principal Ian Gallan from the Wairoa School in Bondi or Dr Chris Blackwell, a local clinician. Many other parents with stories as tragic as they are profound have supported this important initiative.