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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4041


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (18:50): I am pleased to tonight to rise to speak on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment Bill 2016. This bill makes a small administrative change. It changes section 126 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 by amending the number of members from eight up to 11 and giving the minister the flexibility to decrease the size of the board at some point in the future when it is considered appropriate and prudent to do so. It is important to have board members on the National Disability Insurance Authority board who have wide experience from all different walks of life and management of finances and involvement with the disability sector in this economy. To go from eight to 11 is an important change.

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the National Disability Insurance Scheme with a little bit of a wider scope. I do so as someone who has an intimate relationship with what is required. I have a son who was born with Down Syndrome and who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He is now 21 years old. I have seen with my own eyes the need we have in our society for greater care of people with disabilities. Most of all, I have seen that we really need to put our resources into assisting carers. I have found that many of the people who are afflicted with some sort of disability, which they have inherited through birth or which has come about by accident, are generally happy people at heart. The greatest lesson I have learnt from my relationship with the disability sector is that their lives are valuable; that teaches us about the importance and preciousness of everyone's life and the importance of not prejudging people.

We really need the resources to go to help those carers—those people who have sacrificed the greater part of their lives to look after a loved one, whether it is a son or a daughter or a relative. They are the ones to whom we need to give greater resources, but we have to do this in a sustainable way. I know the member for Jagajaga comes to this debate with a good heart and wants to do as much as she can for people with disabilities, but when she says that the National Disability Insurance Scheme was funded by Labor, we need to tell the truth. The levy for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is half of one per cent and it raises $3.3 billion a year. It is estimated that, when we finally get the scheme rolled out to 460,000 participants, the cost will be $22 billion.

The truth is that at the moment with all the other burdens on government expenditure—with the ageing of the population, greater demands on health care and on the educational sector—we do not have a way at the moment of funding and annual expenditure of $22 billion in a sustainable way. We cannot fund it from continuing government debt and borrowings. Over the past 8½ years, this nation has borrowed money at the rate of $100 million every single day and it will most likely continue with that borrowing next year as well. If we are going to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it cannot be done from borrowed money; it has to come from a balanced budget. The only way we can do that is not to increase taxes and tie people up in red tape; rather, we have to do the opposite. We have to release the wealth creators of this nation and tell those people, 'If you want to get out there to start a business and create wealth, we in this parliament will back you.' We cannot do it if we are lock up developments or if we mandate higher energy costs. We cannot do it if we are attacking small business people, as we saw recently with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. It is things like that that undermine our ability to finance or afford the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

If we are worried about governments undermining the future, we have to release the wealth creators of this nation. Let them get out there and build businesses. Let our farmers get out and farm their land without stopping them from clearing that land. Let's get the mines of this country into full operation; let's get off the backs of entrepreneurs and let them have a go. That is what we need to do if we are going to get this economy moving and fund the NDIS. We must fund it in the years to come in a sustainable way; otherwise we are holding out on the people who need the greatest assistance in our community. No matter which side of parliament we sit on, I hope that when we consider legislation we ask: how it will affect the wealth creators of our society? How will it determine our ability to finance the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the long term. That is our challenge as we go ahead. It is a huge change for this nation, but I believe the people of this nation are up to it. We have shown in the past that we are rich and wealthy nation, but our wealth does not come from the coal seams that run down the eastern seaboard or the iron ore in the outback or the gold. It comes from the entrepreneurial skills of individual citizens, and that is what we need to release to ensure that we have the wealth to give those carers and those suffering from a disability everything they need and they deserve. With that, I commend this bill to the House.