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Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Page: 4690

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:37): Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator FIFIELD: To say that I am extremely disappointed and the coalition is extremely disappointed with the decision of the government and the Greens in relation to this motion is an understatement. The assertion by Senator McLucas that the opposition does not support an NDIS is outrageous. The government are quite happy to say from time to time that there is bipartisan and cross-party support and they willingly supported the previous motion but when it actually comes to a concrete demonstration that they genuinely support bipartisanship, that they genuinely want bipartisanship and that they genuinely want cross-party support they reject that at every opportunity. The opposition has extended the hand of bipartisanship in relation to this motion. Mr Abbott has written to the Prime Minister three times proposing the establishment of a cross-party committee. Because the implementation of an NDIS will span several parliaments, there needs to be a mechanism to lock in all parties over several parliaments. But there also needs to be a mechanism that will elevate the implementation of an NDIS above partisanship. The government have rejected the mechanism that would do just that. They are very happy to pay lip service to bipartisanship and they are very happy to pay lip service to cross-party support but when it actually comes to a practical demonstration they say no. I have got to tell you, Mr Deputy President, that the groups in this sector that I have spoken to think that this committee is a good idea. They want this committee and they will be extremely disappointed by the decision and the response of both the government and the Australian Greens. I expected better and, quite frankly, I am appalled.