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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3185


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (09:18): I move:

That this bill be read a second time.

Like the Prime Minister before me, I do so with a great sense of pride. This is a very special occasion in the life of our national parliament.

For too long, people with disability, and their carers and families, have lived with inequity and uncertainty.

That is why this government is transforming disability services by creating and locking in funding for DisabilityCare Australia.

DisabilityCare Australia will provide people with significant and permanent disability across Australia with the support they need—the support they have waited for for far too long.

It will provide them with choice and control.

And it will enhance their opportunities for social and economic participation.

Through the bill the Prime Minster has just introduced, the government will provide a strong and enduring funding stream for DisabilityCare Australia and, to provide certainty to people with disability that they will receive support in the long term, the government will increase the Medicare levy from 1.5 per cent to two per cent from 1 July 2014.

Disability can affect any of us and therefore it affects us all.

That is why we are asking Australians to make a small contribution that will make a very big difference to the lives of over 460,000 people with disability.

It was a Labor government that introduced the Medicare levy in 1984 to fund Medicare.

The introduction of Medicare and the Medicare levy ensured equal access to health care for all Australians and demonstrated a commitment by the Labor government to the benefits of universal health care.

The DisabilityCare Australia Fund Bill is an important part of making DisabilityCare Australia a reality.

Every dollar raised from increasing the Medicare levy will be paid into the DisabilityCare Australia Fund that we will establish with this bill.

This bill makes it crystal clear that the additional funds raised by the Medicare levy can only be drawn upon to fund DisabilityCare Australia.

The DisabilityCare Australia Fund will be managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians (the Future Fund Board), who have the experience in successfully managing other government owned investment funds.

The bill requires that a fixed amount of the money flowing into the fund each year will be set aside for the states and territories.

This amount will be $825 million in 2014-15, one-quarter of the amount we expect to raise in that year.

The annual amount allocated within the fund to the states and territories will be grown in future years by 3.5 per cent per year.

Over 10 years, the states and territories will be allocated a total of $9.7 billion.

Funds will be used to reimburse states and territories for spending on the scheme once key conditions are met.

We will formalise those conditions in agreements with the states.

Consistent with the principle that these funds are only to be used for additional costs in delivering DisabilityCare, those conditions will ensure that states can only access funds once they are incurring significant new costs in delivering DisabilityCare.

To support early establishment costs, eligible states will also be able to access some of their annual allocation in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The bill will also provide the opportunity to cover interim matters to enable DisabilityCare Australia to commence operations from 1 July 2013, through the creation of a transitional special account to manage state and territory government funds until the board overseeing the National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency is established.

The transitional special account will also be credited with the Commonwealth's contribution for 2013-14, which will be appropriated to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. This will provide assurance to state and territory governments that the Commonwealth's contribution will be spent only on DisabilityCare Australia.

This bill allows the DisabilityCare Australia Fund to receive, hold and invest the additional Medicare levy proceeds for the purposes of reimbursing the Commonwealth and states and territories for their contributions to DisabilityCare Australia. It supports the critical objectives and principles of DisabilityCare Australia.

The government's plan for DisabilityCare Australia extends well beyond the Medicare levy increase and the DisabilityCare fund.

In the budget last night, the government detailed the long-term structural savings that, along with the Medicare levy revenue, will fully fund DisabilityCare well beyond the forward estimates and even beyond a 10-year horizon.

This unprecedented step of providing long-term funding well beyond the normal four-year budget cycle shows the depth of Labor's commitment to DisabilityCare Australia.

It shows our commitment to righting the wrongs of too many years of complacency, too many years where we have not given proper regard to the needs of people with significant and permanent disability.

With the secure funding we lock in for DisabilityCare today and for the future, we ensure that come 1 July 2013 DisabilityCare will be here to stay.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.