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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9066


Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (11:56): I commend the member for Dawson for calling for the establishment of a Joint Select Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. As a member of parliament who grew up in a household with disability pensioners as parents, the member for Dawson has formed a strong social justice conscience. He understands as well as anyone in this place how important it is to get the National Disability Insurance Scheme model right. He knows full well what this would mean for ensuring the NDIS proceeds with bipartisan support. There have been times recently when the NDIS has threatened to disintegrate into a political football—we have seen that this morning. This must not be allowed to happen. Certainly, this motion should and must receive the full support of the lower house and be taken up by way of a concurrence motion in the Senate. It is too crucial not to be given wholehearted backing.

The NDIS is a good proposal. It is a national scheme designed to provide insurance cover for all Australians in the event of significant disability. It comes at a cost but, as the first federal parliamentarian in New South Wales to sign up to the NDIS 'Every Australian Counts' campaign, I see this as an investment in our future. If we choose to do nothing, or delay indefinitely doing something—anything—we will lose a marvellous opportunity that will cost the nation more in the long run.

I know an NDIS has the support of so many people in the Riverina. Wagga Wagga based Kurrajong Waratah, a marvellous organisation which has provided care, support, training and opportunities for people with an intellectual disability or development delay and their families and carers for more than half a century, is right behind an NDIS. Councillor Anne Napoli of Griffith City Council enthusiastically supports an NDIS. Her artistically talented son Patrick, aged 36, has cerebral palsy. Chris and Carol Harmer of Wagga Wagga are a fantastic couple. They have three children, two of whom were born with an extremely rare condition called Phelan-McDermid syndrome. Their daughter Emily, 19, has never uttered a word and their 15-year-old son Tom is also affected, only more moderately. I spoke to Chris this morning, and he spoke of his high hopes for an NDIS. Narelle Hughes of Kooringal and her daughter Sally Dorling, 24, are similarly supportive. Narelle has spent her life looking after Sally. A mother's love knows no bounds, but even unconditional love sometimes needs help. Narelle said:

The NDIS provides a whole-life plan and there are people out there in desperate situations and they need this help as soon as possible.

Another NDIS advocate from the Riverina is Temora's Patricia Thomas, whose son Richard, 47, is disabled. Patricia has formed a Special Persons and Carers Group and is President of this tireless band of workers.

The NDIS has the backing of both sides of politics. The government has, however, sought most recently to politicise the issue. This is unfortunate. The Liberal-National coalition supports the implementation of the NDIS, despite the government's claims to the contrary. Politicising this issue is an affront to many Australians who know how tough it is for families which have a disabled member. The opposition leader wrote to the Prime Minister twice seeking the establishment of a joint select committee on the NDIS.

Debate interrupted.