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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7142


Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (19:23): I thank the member for Blair for his enthusiasm both for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and probably more importantly for his community, particularly the people of Ipswich. I can say to the chamber that the member for Blair did ask me to come to Ipswich. We did have just one of those great meetings with people at Focal Extended. I take this opportunity to thank everybody who came along, who put the proposal that Ipswich should be one of the launch sites with enthusiasm equal to that of the member for Blair.

As to whether or not Ipswich will be an NDIS launch site, there are a few hurdles. I will answer the member for Blair's questions in the following way. As he knows, the government has put in an extra billion dollars through this budget, and that is over and above the increases that the government has put into the National Disability Agreement since we were elected four years ago. When we first came into government, we did make a very significant addition to our National Disability Agreement funding, but probably just as significant as that increase was the fact that we also increased the level of indexation for funding that we put into that agreement. With our indexing, the money that goes to the states for disability care and support is around six per cent. The previous government were providing less than the rate of inflation. Unfortunately, disability funding under the previous government was not even keeping up with the costs of delivering that care, so disability care and support went backwards.

We have increased the funding, but, of course, we know it is not enough. That is why we asked the Productivity Commission to do the major inquiry into a long-term care and support scheme, now widely known as the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We have put the billion dollars—it is all new money, extra money—on the table and we are now negotiating with the states and territories on where the launch sites will be. The first round will have 10,000 places. We are open to suggestions about how big the launch sites are to be, and we are talking with states and territories about that. We do have expectations from the states and territories that, if they are behind, they will increase their effort.

It is the case that the Queensland government is not contributing the same level of funding as some of the other states. Queensland is a long, long way behind the state of Victoria, for example, which is contributing the highest level of funding for a person with a disability, while Queensland is one of the lowest. Our view, and the view of all the states in fact, is that it would not be fair for the Commonwealth to make up for those states that really are not pulling their own weight. The message to Queenslanders—which your constituents understood very well when we were together in Ipswich—is that the Queensland government needs to improve its effort to come up to the national benchmark and make sure that they are contributing, helping and supporting people with disabilities, their carers and families. That is an expectation that we have of any state where we might enter into an agreement for a launch site.

We will, of course, continue to work with each of the states and territories. We are doing that in detail right now. I know you are a great advocate and, as I said to you and to your constituents, the job is to keep the pressure on us and to make very clear to the Queensland government that they have to pick up their game.