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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9085

Ms MACKLIN (Jagajaga) (10:13): I thank the member for Fisher for the way in which he has chaired this committee. With him, and the other members of the committee, we were very pleased to go to the Barwon region in Victoria, the Hunter in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania to see the implementation in the first launch sites of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the first parts of our country where this historic reform is becoming a reality. Since then, the National Disability Insurance Scheme has launched in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and right here in the ACT.

Like other members of the committee I was blown away by the stories that we heard—the monumental change already underway. The member for Fisher will remember, as I do, the story of John Coyle in Hobart, Tasmania. Around a decade ago, John lost his beloved wife to cancer, and he is now raising his three children, two of whom have a disability, as a single dad. John describes so eloquently how the NDIS has already changed his life and the lives of all three of his children. He spoke of being overjoyed at being able to see clearly, for the first time, a future for this children. He described the NDIS as 'a godsend'. In Newcastle the committee heard from James Bailey, a young man who suffered severe brain injury in an accident. He said, 'I am lucky to be a participant in the NDIS,' and he went on, 'Every morning I wake up and smile because I know my life is better now.'

We must never forget that, before the NDIS, the system was completely broken. In July this year, the chair of the NDIS, Bruce Bonyhady, spoke of Lillian Andren. In 2011 Lillian told the Productivity Commission of how she had acquired a spinal injury in a swimming pool accident—how there was no compensation available, of having access to only three showers a week, of falling through the cracks in our society. Her story shocked commissioners, and it was stories like Lillian's that provided the catalyst for monumental change.

The NDIS will provide social and economic benefits for people with disability and their carers and families and, indeed, all Australians in the wider economy. Analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that the cost of doing nothing, the 'business as usual' approach, would exceed the cost of the NDIS by 2025. By the time the NDIS is fully rolled out across Australia, more than 460,000 Australians with disability will benefit. More Australians with disability and their families and carers will rightly have more control over their lives, more certainty over the level of care they receive and more opportunities to have work and to be involved in school and community life. What more could we hope for than that?

Australians know that this is what people with disability deserve, and that is why we built the NDIS. This is a massive and complex reform—complex for governments, for the agency, for the disability sector and for the whole community. But, as the great Kurt Fearnley said to us in Newcastle, and the member for Fisher will remember this:

The challenges that we have been listening to today have been, in my opinion, extremely positive. The NDIS was brought around to challenge people so that we could decide what level of life was going to be lived for people with disabilities.

The committee is very encouraged, as the member for Fisher said, by the way in which the National Disability Insurance Agency has responded to this report, facing head-on the challenges that need to be overcome. Recently we have seen the release of the latest quarterly report, and we welcome that. There are now 7,300 people with approved NDIS plans in place, and the NDIS is coming in on budget.

This is a great social and economic reform and, I have to say, one very much in our Labor tradition. That said, we are very pleased to see the whole of the parliament getting behind it. We are determined to see it delivered in full and on time. People with disability have waited for long enough. I join the member for Fisher in thanking all members of the committee, the people who came and spoke to us—the families, carers, advocates, service providers, state officials and NDIA officials. I want to thank all the committee staff who made sure this new committee was able to do its work in such an effective way and I include the Hansard staff, who sat with us in what were sometimes very emotional circumstances. I look forward to working with the member for Fisher and the other members of the committee so the whole of the parliament can help make sure we get the NDIS right.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Mitchell ): The time allotted for statements on this report has expired. Does the honourable member for Fisher wish to move a motion in connection with the report to enable it to be debated at a later occasion?