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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2131


Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (10:48): I thank the member for Menzies. As the member for Menzies knows, and I think every single member of the House is aware, the legislation that we are voting on today sets out a comprehensive framework for the governance of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Most importantly, I think, in the legislation before us, the scheme will be delivered by an independent national organisation. These robust governance arrangements have been thought about very carefully. They include not only robust internal governance arrangements but comprehensive government oversight, and not just by the Commonwealth.

As the Productivity Commission recommended, the agency is established under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act, ensuring that it is an independent agency with reporting responsibilities to the parliament. The National Disability Insurance Scheme board, which is responsible for the operation of the agency, will report quarterly to the ministerial council, which is made up of Commonwealth, state and territory ministers. The legislation requires a two-year review of the operation of the scheme to be tabled in this parliament.

The amendments that I have moved today and that have been agreed to by the House strengthen actuarial oversight of the scheme and also impose reporting obligations on both the scheme and the reviewing actuary. The amendments also appoint the Australian Government Actuary as the reviewing actuary for the first three years of operation. As I said, these are comprehensive and very robust governance arrangements. I reiterate that they reflect the strong view of the Productivity Commission about the need for independence of the agency. Nevertheless, they ensure regular ministerial and parliamentary oversight of the scheme, particularly expenditure of public funds both state and federal. This is of course as it should be. This is a very significant enterprise we are putting through this House today. We want to make sure the agency we are establishing today can operate as an independent, accountable and transparent organisation in the interests of people with disability and their families and carers. For these reasons, the government will not be supporting the opposition's amendment.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the amendments moved by the member for Menzies be agreed to.