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Transcript of interview: ABC 774 Drive with Rafael Epstein: 6 December 2012: National Disability Insurance Scheme



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National Disability Insurance Scheme, ABC 774 Drive with Rafael Epstein 06 December 2012 Interviewer: Rafael Epstein Program: ABC 774 Drive

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Subject: National Disability Insurance Scheme; Australian Labor Party.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Jenny Macklin, good afternoon.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good afternoon.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Look it sounds good, just tell me when will the money be spent and do you expect a similar offer from Victoria tomorrow?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well just on the latter question about when we expect to get both Victoria and the other states on board, this certainly does set the benchmark for the other states and we do want the other states to come to the table and start negotiating for the funding of the full scheme of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Commonwealth is ready to do so and have been ready, and we’re very, very pleased that we’ve been able to get this agreement with New South Wales. The biggest state, largest number of people, of course the largest number of people with a disability, so it’s a very, very significant step. It will start in New South Wales in the Hunter region as part of the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and that will start next July, but the full roll out across New South Wales will start in 2016.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: So let me clarify something. This $3 billion from either side, the convention I suppose in Canberra is that if you’re going to fund something, it needs to fall within your four year financial planning.

JENNY MACKLIN: Yes.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: People might not know that when you deliver a budget you plan out your money over the four years.

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Is any of that $3 billion from the Federal Government, is any of that in the forward estimates now?

JENNY MACKLIN: Not now, but in next year’s budget which will come down in May, we will have to provide for the first year, so the 2016-17 year, so that will be clear in next year’s budget.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: So it’s about $800 million, something like that?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well the roll out, the actual proportion year on year has to be finalised but that’ll all be clear in the budget.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Because it sounds good, $3 billion but…

JENNY MACKLIN: …It is good.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: But we’re talking about, well firstly it’s after an election, and secondly, it’s three and a half years away. You sort of leave yourself open to the criticism that it’s just funny money don’t you?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t think so. I think everybody understands that the Productivity Commission recommended that this will take until 2018 to fully roll out and we’ve now agreed a program of roll out with the New South Wales Government. As I said we’ll start in the Hunter next year but then start in 2016 across the rest of New South Wales. There’s a huge amount of work to do between now and then and we’re determined to get started.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: I’m just trying to work out why New South Wales has agreed to this. Are they the state that has the least amount of work to do perhaps for this scheme to be up and running?

JENNY MACKLIN: They certainly have made a substantial contribution in the next four years of their budget to disability care and support. So I think that demonstrates that they are committed to making sure that we improve the whole system of disability care. They’ve been committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme from the start and have wanted to make sure….

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: …everyone’s committed to it, it’s just, people have got to find the money don’t they?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think New South Wales have demonstrated by their actions today that they’re not just talking about it, that they’re prepared to put their own money on the table and prepared to do the hard work. They’ve also got the largest launch site in the Hunter, so we agreed that earlier in the year and of course I think that also demonstrates their commitment.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: How close are you to an agreement with Ted Bailleu?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’ve certainly have agreed with the Victorians to do the launch in Geelong which I’m very pleased about. But it really is time for us to get started and I’d say to Victoria, come to the table, be prepared to put the extra money into the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Commonwealth will meet our share, but Victoria has to as well.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Now I mean the main reason you’re happy with this is because you’ve got agreement from a Liberal state and that gives you, that gives you a big stick to beat the Federal Opposition with doesn’t it?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’ve actually got an agreement with the biggest state which is obviously what matters a lot and we’re looking forward to getting agreement with all the other states.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Would we, am I being too optimistic if I think you might actually be saying something similar to me tomorrow afternoon with the other states? Or do you not actually expect that single day meeting with the Prime Minister and the Premiers to deliver another result?

JENNY MACKLIN: No tomorrow what I would expect is that all States sign the intergovernmental agreement to continue to work together to deliver the full scheme, but I don’t expect anything further than that. We do want to get the individual agreement with Victoria around all the details for Geelong. I certainly expect we’ll sign that as well tomorrow.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Jenny Macklin is on 774ABC Melbourne, she’s the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and Disability Reform. Wow, she must have a big business card. Jenny Macklin, the other reason this is good for you, you have a massive electoral problem in New South Wales with the corruption allegations coming out of ICAC. There’s only one line the Liberal Party need to keep re-using and it comes from the Prosecutor in ICAC, that it’s the worst corruption since the Rum Corp, so that’s the worst corruption since this country was established. Does that mean that you cannot win seats in New South Wales?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well if you’re trying to draw some link with what we’ve done today, I think that’s …..

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: …Oh I’m not trying to draw a link, I mean obviously one balances out the other. Everyone thinks the NDIS is a good thing. I’m just curious to know if you think the corruption inquiry stops you winning seats?

JENNY MACKLIN: Look of course the behaviour in New South Wales is unacceptable, so nobody is going to defend that. But today is really a great day for people with disability, in

New South Wales particularly, but I do think that it really is the benchmark for the rest of the country and it will now say to people with disability right around Australia, we are going to have a National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is going to be fully implemented by 2018, we’ve got a lot of work to do with other states, but that will be done.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Look maybe I’ll ask the same question in a different way. There’s been a lot of debate this week about the need to reform the way the Labor Party works internally, to not get rid of the factions but really make a difference. Does the Government need to push the party to make a big difference to its internal workings to give you any hope of winning any seats in New South Wales?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well as you can imagine I haven’t really had time to engage on any of these issues, we’ve been …

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: … Yeah but you’ve been a creature of the Labor Party for a very long time now. You know how these things work.

JENNY MACKLIN: I do. But I have also been really flat out trying to make sure that we get this agreement that we have today, and today is the day for people with disability. That’s really what I want to celebrate.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Okay, and look, just to return to the NDIS once more. I’m sure there are many people who will say, well it might pop up in the budget papers next May but it’s still two, three years away. That sort of money, given the politics we have, is money that you can effectively give away, you don’t actually need to, you know, provide any ballast in the Budget to put those figures down?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well as I said in next year’s budget we will be required to show how that will start in 2016-17. It’ll be part of our required forward estimates but it’s also the case that the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales have signed an agreement today to deliver this and I think the people of Australia understand that it is time we have a National Disability Insurance Scheme, and it will be delivered.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Okay, look thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.