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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9064


WYATT ROY (Longman) (11:47): What a stark contrast we have seen in the chamber today. Improving disability policy was one of my primary motivations for going into politics. After growing up alongside a close mate of mine who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, I have witnessed firsthand the many obstacles and obstructions of an overly bureaucratic disability system that all too often fails to recognise need.

As Australians we like to believe that we are easy-going, accepting and all-inclusive. But in reality, many in our midst who suffer from congenital or acquired conditions are not fully included in our society. They are offered only minimal assistance and our system all too often simply does not make allowance for those who require additional or specific help. Friends and families are the safety net for people with disabilities. They are the carers, the sponsors and the security. But in a country such as ours, which sets itself up as a world leader in many areas, it is our responsibility also to lead others in areas of social conscience. This is what the National Disability Insurance Scheme is all about. It is about ensuring that every Australian has the best possible opportunities for the future, regardless of the obstacles they face. It is about ensuring that everyone with a disability will have the support they need.

It would seem that members on both sides of this place agree that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is not only an important concept but also an essential tool for our future of our nation. With cross-party support on this issue, I have been absolutely astounded and deeply disappointed to watch as the NDIS has been made into a political football. Let me put my view bluntly. Over the past month the Prime Minister and Labor have prioritised party politics over real action on disability reform. It could not be made more evident than by the contribution of the member for Blair earlier today.

It has been disappointing to see that in an effort to pass the buck, the Prime Minister has cast aside the Productivity Commission's blueprint for the NDIS in favour of a political blame game. The Productivity Commission's final report was very clear about how a National Disability Insurance Scheme should be implemented and where the funding should come from. But, regardless of this, we are now seeing a situation where the Prime Minister is trying to strong-arm state governments into holding up her federal government's responsibilities. In the recent negotiations with state governments, the Prime Minister failed to concede the important contribution that the states have made this far in the provision of disability services. Instead of recognising this contribution and building on it—as the Productivity Commission advises—the Prime Minister is trying to force state governments into sponsoring the Labor government's funding shortfall.

The Productivity Commission's final report strongly indicated that the Australian government should be the sole contributor to a national disability insurance scheme. Yet the Prime Minister has indicated that she would put only $1 billion toward it. That is a massive $2.9 billion short of what the Productivity Commission recommended. This is a shortfall in Commonwealth funds, not state government funds. When Labor and the Greens found $10 billion of taxpayers' money to hedge in a clean energy finance corporation, I question how this Labor government could not find the extra $2.9 billion that the Productivity Commission recommended the Commonwealth fund.

In Queensland in the last financial year the federal government's contribution to disability services was about $255 million. Compare that with $920 million contributed by the Queensland government. In my electorate alone there are many examples of where the Prime Minister and the Labor government have wasted taxpayers' money. We need only to look as far as school halls and pink batts to know that those opposite have not valued taxpayers' money. I do not want to see this incredibly important policy miss out simply because those opposite could not rein in their addiction to wasteful spending on failed programs.

As I stand in the parliament today, the federal Labor government has not committed to the Productivity Commission's target date of a full NDIS by 2018-19. Nor has it committed funds, provided plans or given information about what will happen when the haphazard trial finishes and the real NDIS is supposed to be implemented. What is important here is that the National Disability Insurance Scheme comes to fruition within the timeframe outlined in the Productivity Commission's report. What this motion suggests—and I support—is that a joint select committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme is established to oversee the implementation of the full rollout. The timeframe for the NDIS rollout spans the lifecycle of several parliaments. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is more important than a quick political win. It has the ability to change the future for thousands of Australians and change our direction as a nation. Nothing could be more important in this place.