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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1353

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Ms PRICE (Durack) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. Will the minister inform the House on the government's commitment to the NDIS and its plan to fully fund it? Are there any alternative approaches that would hurt hardworking families?

Mr PORTER (PearceMinister for Social Services) (14:56): I thank the member for her question. Of course, the member knows that the NDIS is a massive reform project and the member knows that even the most worthy and important expenditures and reform have to be paid for. The member knows that they can either be paid for through savings, or taxes, or borrowings. Of course, the government's commitment to the NDIS is absolute. We are also determined to try to fill the funding gap left by members opposite of $4 billion with savings rather than taxes or borrowings.

The member also asked about alternative approaches, and I think one was illustrated by an answer that the Leader of the Opposition gave to Ms Sabra Lane on radio yesterday morning. The question was put to the opposition leader:

Labor never fully explained how it would pay for the scheme.

The response was:

Well, I was there in 2013 when Jenny Macklin outlined that we would increase the Medicare levy and we would make other savings.

To the credit of the Leader of the Opposition, at least he did not answer it in morse code, like the shadow Treasurer, but there is still a slight problem with the answer in that not one of any of the members opposite can provide us with any details or any firm figures around what these mysterious 'other savings' are. It is all very 1960s. They used to say that if you could remember the 1960s you were not there. Well, the Leader of the Opposition was right there alongside the member for Jagajaga. He just cannot remember what the $4 billion worth of savings were. And that is simply not good enough.

He was pressed again at a doorstop yesterday morning:

Mr Shorten, in Labor's 2013 budget papers, you describe some of the money going towards the NDIS as selected long-term savings. What are those savings?


You have to refer to the budget papers.

So to a question that says the budget papers are not clear on what these other savings are, the answer is: refer to the budget papers. That is an amazing answer to a $14 billion funding gap in the most important reform that either of these two governments has ever engaged in.

You know, there was nothing in the budget papers—nothing that would provide any explanation. There was an off-Broadway sort of budget glossy which had a thing called 'Chart 3'. That did point to savings. One of the savings it pointed to was with respect to health insurance. That saving was first announced on 22 October 2012, with the member for Lilley saying:

… the savings taken will help return the budget to surplus …

It was re-announced in MYEFO, saying: 'The saving in this measure will be redirected to partially offset the cost of the dental health reform package.' And then it was re-announced in the budget glossy as being applied to the NDIS. The member for Lilley did not spend it once, he did not spend it twice; he spent it three times—unfunded. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga.

Ms Macklin: I seek leave to table a Treasury document, tabled in Senate estimates, that outlines how the Labor government fully funded the NDIS.

Government members interjecting

Ms Macklin: Have a look at it!

Government members interjecting

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Does the member for Jagajaga actually want me to ask whether leave is granted?

Ms Macklin: I know what they will say!

Leave not granted.