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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9059

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (11:26): I am very disappointed, but perhaps it is not surprising that we see the Liberal Party and the Nationals here today trying to delay one of the greatest programs that will do more than any other program has ever done for the disability sector—the National Disability Insurance Scheme. After all, they spent 12 long years in government doing absolutely nothing. In fact, they made cuts to the sector without a single program. Now Labor is getting on with that job. We are getting on with the very important job of giving people with disabilities the services that they need. Those opposite are continuing in the same ilk that they have continued with every other policy in this House—and that is, to oppose, to say no and to be destructive. Here we have a plan that will do magnificent things for people with disabilities. We know that these programs are needed, and again the opposition are trying their delaying tactics, saying one thing when they are out there in front of the cameras and doing something completely different when they are here in this parliament.

Mr Christensen: Mr Deputy Speaker, a point of order on relevance. There is nothing in the motion about delaying the NDIS, so I ask the member to refer to the motion in front of us.

Mr GEORGANAS: When you ask for an inquiry or a committee, to me that is delaying. That is stopping the process, doing something else instead of getting on with our program. Labor is now getting on with the job of giving people with disabilities the services that they need, not just saying no like the opposition has been doing.

Support for disability is a human right. It is not a privilege. It is not something bestowed on the whimsy or whim of governments or political parties. It is an entitlement for all Australians. But, as I said, Australians with disabilities were bitterly disappointed by the Howard government for 12 long years—again and again. While the Liberal Party was in government, funding for disabilities actually went backwards. That is the way it is and I will say it again: whilst the Liberal Party was in government, funding for disabilities actually went backwards. They took support away from people already struggling to get a fair go. As I said, this is not a privilege. This support is for the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Madam Deputy Speaker D'Ath, I cannot count the number of times people have come into my office—and, I take it, to your office and the offices of other members of parliament—seeking assistance to get something as basic as a wheelchair. We know that too often it is difficult for people with disabilities to get access to essential services; we see it every day. That is why we on this side of the chamber are getting on with the job and working towards a future where all Australian children and adults with disabilities lead lives of dignity and opportunity. We are delivering the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and if those opposite do not want to help they should get right out of the way. The time for playing politics with the lives of Australians living with disabilities is over. We have seen those opposite play politics with lots of other issues that other governments of all persuasions would not play political games with. Now we have those opposite playing politics with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is extremely important and should have been put in place many years ago. Those opposite are now trying their delaying tactics.

It is now one year since the government released the Productivity Commission's report into disability care and support. The Productivity Commission recommended that the NDIS be established to end the cruel lottery of disability care. Right now in Australia the type and level of support you get depends on how you got your disability—and that is wrong. Your access to services should not depend on whether you were born with a disability or acquired it. Each of us here is only—touch wood and God forbid—one accident or injury away from needing the NDIS. Whether it be through a work accident, a car accident or a sporting accident, disability can strike absolutely anyone. We on this side of the room know that.

It does not matter whether you live in the regions—in the country or in rural areas—or whether you are a city dweller like those in my electorate or whether you live in the outer areas, and it does not matter what your background is. We know that all of us are only one accident or injury away from needing the NDIS. For too long, where you live and not what you need has been the determining factor in what help you get. Whether we are talking about assistance with education, health care or disability support I believe deeply in the NDIS, as do all of us on this side. We believe that your postcode should not determine your chance of success in life. So, while the opposition dithers and delays, we are getting on with all sorts of reforms. Through the NDIS, we will give all Australians a fair go in education, health care and disability support. That is what our country is all about.

The Australian government is moving fast to make things happen. Just one year after the Productivity Commission's report was released, we are launching the NDIS. This is a life-changing reform for thousands of Australians with disabilities, their families and their carers. When the NDIS starts, people with disability will get much more choice of the quality and standard of care that they receive. Premier Jay Weatherill in South Australia has been huge supporter of the NDIS. Unlike many of the Liberal state premiers, he knows that, to people in his state, the NDIS is a hugely important reform. I was very pleased to see him jump on board as the first premier to support the NDIS—unlike others in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, where they dillydallied again with this very important reform. When the chance for an NDIS trial in South Australia appeared, Premier Weatherill grabbed it with both hands and, in addition, put in $20 million—which is a lot of money for a small state—on the table. So I thank Premier Weatherill for his leadership and his insight when his counterpart Liberal premiers in other states have fought the NDIS all the way. He knows that the NDIS is real and urgent and that we should deal with it urgently. He is a former disability minister, and he was absolutely committed to the disability sector and did a very good job when he was minister for disabilities in South Australia.

In my electorate of Hindmarsh, disability services are a huge issue. That is partly because of the demographic: one in four people in Hindmarsh are over the age of 65, and that means its residents have among the oldest average age of any seat in the country; I always like to say that it is one of the wisest seats in the country, because with age comes wisdom. Recently many of you would have seen the article in the Australian—I think it was published a couple weeks ago. The article pinpointed the areas of Australia with the highest concentration of people with disabilities. Two suburbs in my electorate made it onto the list. One was Morphettville, where 16 per cent of all residents have a disability, and the other one was North Plympton, where 15 per cent of people have a disability. The NDIS trial in South Australia will help approximately 4,600 people, starting next year, to access better services and improve their lives. In mid-2013 the trial will be launched for children aged between birth and five years, and from 2014 the age limit will extend to 14 years. These real reforms are taking place next year and beyond, and we cannot afford to risk delays through the motion that the member opposite has put.

Just a few weeks ago I was at Kilparrin Special School in my electorate. It is a school for children with vision impairment and severe disabilities. We met some of those children, who will be among the first in the country to get the individual support that they require so desperately through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. (Time expired)