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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 10066


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:06): I agree with Senator Fifield on one thing, and that is that today is a good day, because we are going to have the disability awards this evening. I know the one thing that will actually engage all people in this chamber is the recognition and celebration of the people who will be acknowledged this evening. So I think that, in a true bipartisan way, I can start off with that.

I was a little worried, though, when Senator Fifield said he was able to actually show that in this chamber all the questions asked by the opposition are sober and reasonable and that the only place where there is any objection or abuse is on this side of the chamber. I would think that any sober and reasonable evaluation of the Hansard would point out that—and we have had this conversation, Mr Deputy President—in many ways there could be a consideration of behaviour and how we interact across the whole place.

I am interested that we are taking note of the answers given to questions asked of both Senator Wong and Senator Bob Carr, because they are very important issues, but it is difficult in five minutes to respond effectively to both. In terms of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, we are very keen to have that legislation in this place and to have the opportunity of a fulsome committee process around that, which I would expect, where all the questions that so many people have about the future of this wonderful scheme will be addressed.

We know, from the first round of the budget, that the trial process has been guaranteed. That has been out there publicly in terms of looking at the trial sites, which required massive discussion and consultation with user groups, with people across the country and, on the financial side, most clearly with the states, which seems to be forgotten in the way we look at finances around the national disability scheme. We have been very open about the need for this discussion through the COAG process. The services that people with disabilities clearly need—there is no debate about the fact that these services are required—require the financial, social and policy engagement of all levels of government in this country because, currently, the scheme engages both the federal and state systems. That is one aspect of pulling together the scheme for the future.

The implications of the full funding of the NDIS in the future will be a matter for the upcoming budget. There is no doubt about that and no-one is unaware of that process. In terms of what we will do when looking at the legislation when it comes before this place and through the committee process, which I expect will occur, if and when the Senate agrees to that, we will be able to identify exactly what the needs will be in the future and work with that.

I fully expect that there will be bipartisanship because I have this need for optimism, because I have this need to see a massive acceptance of the need to better improve services and to provide respect for people with disabilities in our country. The development of a committee, which was asked for by the opposition, was not considered to be the best way to do that at this stage. That was explained. I understand that people from the opposition who put that forward will be disappointed that it was not the chosen direction of the government. But saying that that means that there will not be full opportunity for bipartisan engagement is just not true. I am also interested in whether we could be given any information about where we have previously had this kind of committee in terms of development of policy. That would be useful.

I also want to make a couple of quick comments about the answers given by Senator Bob Carr on what happened with the UN vote. It was incredibly important for the government to have a united voice on this process. It is not the way it has been portrayed by people in this area and by the great investigations and references in the media. It is not the case that the Prime Minister was pushed into a position. When you have policy, what happens is that you debate it within the caucus, you debate it within the cabinet and then you come up with a position. It is clear that there is great support for our country to be involved in an effective process around the development of policy in this incredibly important area. We have seen the most wonderful development: a peace settlement has been put in place now, tenuous and vulnerable as it is, by people internationally saying, 'These two important groups, Israel and Palestine, need to work together to develop their future.' We all have a role in that. We must have that. What we have asked is that in this important UN vote we acknowledge that there should be a process to allow Palestine to have a greater say. (Time expired)