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Monday, 11 February 2013
Page: 716


Mr RAMSEY (Grey) (19:57): A friend of mine once told me, when speaking of opportunity and politics, that every now and then the little duckies all line up and you just have to go for it. He was right. For a National Disability Insurance Scheme, the little duckies have almost all aligned. Perhaps there are still a couple of them hesitating under shrouds, but this is probably about as good as it is going to get and Australia should simply go for it. As the member for Warringah and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, says: 'It is an idea whose time has come.'

Every Australian has friends, family or near knowledge of people who, through no fault of their own, are dealing with the added burden of coping with severe and debilitating disability. One of the great privileges of this job, of being a member of parliament, is that we get to meet a far higher percentage of these people and their families because, when the system has failed to provide and they need help, their members of parliament are the last port of call for these desperate people.

I say it is a privilege not because I find any pleasure in watching constituents deal with what most of us would consider to be a pretty poor hand but because to meet many of these people is to come face to face with tremendous courage, persistence, commitment and—above all—the unrestrained love of the family. Many of us who have been more fortunate could learn much from these people. Mostly families and individuals come to meet their members of parliament when all else has failed, when they are sick to death of waiting on the end of the phone, when they just want to speak to a human instead of a prompting device and plastic music and when they have exhausted the limits of the system which was supposed to support them. Paradoxically, I have been frustrated the number of times I have actually been able to help some of these people with disability desperately needing services, not because I could not but often because I could.

Not that long ago I intervened on behalf of a constituent suffering from advanced MS, cared for in the home for more than 10 years by a wonderfully supportive and devoted wife. That woman alone saved the nation hundreds of thousands of dollars. But when the gentleman needed a wheelchair with sophisticated head support to stop his head flopping forward and cutting off his ability to breathe—his wife felt it was unsafe to leave the room when her husband was in the chair, which was most of the day—he was unable to obtain that wheelchair that he and his wife both so desperately needed. They were informed by disability SA—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): Order! The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 34. The debate is adjourned, and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.