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Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Page: 8153

Disability Services

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (15:21): My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the government's initial response to the Productivity Commission report into disability care and support? What other responses have there been and how is the government addressing these?

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (15:21): I thank the member for Blair for his question and for his commitment to people with disabilities and their carers. It is very pleasing to be able to tell not only the member for Blair but the whole House about the progress that the government has already made. Last week the Prime Minister announced that our government has already started work on the extremely important task of transforming the disability support and care system in Australia. Something—

Mr Laming: Another revolution?

Ms MACKLIN: I beg your pardon?

Mr Laming: You heard me.

Ms MACKLIN: I did not actually.

The SPEAKER: The minister has the call. Those interjecting will cease interjecting. The minister will ignore the interjections. Order! The minister has the call.

Ms MACKLIN: It is very disappointing to hear, Mr Speaker, because the Productivity Commission's final report, which the Prime Minister released last week, into long-term care and support of people with a disability does show that the current system of disability is broken. That is why the government asked the Productivity Commission to do this major inquiry: it is because we do understand that, for people with disability and their carers, the current system is broken—and we intend to fix it. We intend to fix it and we intend to start right now.

We understand just how important it is and that is why as a government so far we have taken a number of very important actions, doubling the amount of money that we are providing to the states and territories for disability care and support to make sure that the services that are being provided at the moment are improved. We have done that since we have been in government because of the terrible state of care and support for people with disabilities and their carers.

We also understand how important it is not only to increase the funding for disability services but to really build a new system, an insurance system, because we need a new approach to disability care and support. We have started that work already. As the Prime Minister announced last week, she is taking a recommendation to the Council of Australian Governments this Friday.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr Billson: Jenny, your people wanted an apology—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Dunkley will withdraw that remark.

Mr Billson: I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: If what I am about to say falls on one member's shoulders, let it be, but, when people appear on TV shows and take issue with people who constantly interject, I find it amazing that the same behaviour is seen as suitable in this place. I know that there is a bit of give and take from both sides, but it does amaze me that these trivialities cut across important discussions—and, if this is not an important discussion, I do not know what is.

Ms MACKLIN: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. As I was indicating, the Prime Minister this Friday is taking a recommendation to the Council of Australian Governments to establish a new select council on disability reform. I thank her very much for her leadership on this very, very important issue to millions of Australians who have been waiting decades for these changes.

The government has also committed an additional $10 million to get on with the very important technical work that is needed to make sure that we get, as we have termed it, the NDIS—the National Disability Insurance Scheme—ready, to make sure that we have the common assessment tools and the quality assurance work and to make sure we have the workforce ready so that we can start to build a national disability insurance scheme.

We understand how important this is. The Productivity Commission has recommended that by 2014 we be ready to launch the scheme. We want to make sure that, with the states and territories, we are ready by doing this technical work with the disability sector and the carers, who are doing an extraordinary job right now. I thank the Prime Minister for her— (Time expired)