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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8810


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (15:10): I must say, for Senator Fifield to stand up and say that he has continually supported a national disability insurance scheme is a bit rich. Senator Fifield was in the office of former Treasurer Peter Costello. I am wondering what Senator Fifield did in those 11½ years when the coalition were in power. What did they do to establish, or even discuss or debate, a national disability scheme? We know the answer to that, because it is on the public record: they did absolutely nothing. It is another absolute joke to come here after a Labor government said that we will take on the task of ensuring that Australians with disabilities will be given fair treatment and a fair go in this country.

How could the Labor Party, the government, be confident of any bipartisan support from the most negative, the most destructive opposition that this country has ever seen? The negativity is there on every issue. Whether it is the National Broadband Network, whether it is the National Disability Insurance Scheme, whether it is about looking after workers' rights in this country, the coalition are negative. To stand up here, as Senator Fifield has, and talk about working cooperatively just defies the reality of the coalition.

But what this Labor government has done is to say to people with disability that we have a national plan, a national strategy and a care and conviction for Australians with disabilities and their families. We have said that we will get on with the job. We will not come here trying to score negative, petty political points. We have put our money where our mouth is. We have put up $1 billion to start trialling the scheme, a scheme that was never even on the horizon under the Howard government. I never heard, during my time watching the Howard government, any concern for people with disability. I never heard any vision for a plan or a strategy for Australians who suffer disability.

Who was it that brought this to the national agenda? It was Labor. It was Mr Bill Shorten from the other place, as a parliamentary secretary, who put it on the national agenda. I never heard a word out of the coalition about that issue until Labor placed the issue of the problems and the needs of people with disability on the national agenda. To come here and say that there should be some consensus committee put together, an oversight committee, is hypocrisy of the highest order. I have seen the coalition in action on oversight committees. I have seen the shadow minister for communications, Malcolm Turnbull, and I have seen Senator Birmingham in action on the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network. It is negativity and it is petty political pointscoring.

We want to get on with the job of looking after people with disability. We want to get on with the plan and the strategy. We are sick and tired of the hypocrisy that exudes out of the coalition while we are getting on with the job. (Time expired)