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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9310

Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (19:21): I rise this evening to support the motion moved by the member for Dawson relating to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. While we may debate what each side of politics has or has not done and has achieved or has not achieved over recent decades with regard to caring and responding to the needs of people with disabilities, all of us agree that it is important that a national disability insurance scheme be implemented. I think that is fairly consistent with what everybody has said today. The most important people in this debate are the people with a disability in our communities, their families, those that care for them and the industry sector that endeavours to provide and deliver services, often when they are stressed, under pressure and under-resourced.

I have consistently supported the NDIS. Having worked for more than 30 years with people with a disability and their families, I have seen firsthand the challenges they have faced. My own mother is legally blind. While she did not focus on her disability—she focused on her ability—she still had needs and has special needs as she ages. I believe it is absolutely critical that we provide people with a disability, their families and their carers with the regular care, support, therapy and equipment that they need. We would all agree on that. As mentioned by the member for Dawson, the NDIS is a once-in-a-generation landmark reform that has the potential to deliver better quality-of-life outcomes for Australians with a disability.

The coalition has placed a significant emphasis on the importance of this scheme. This is why the coalition believes that the parliament should immediately establish a joint select committee to oversee the implementation of the NDIS. We know that what we can achieve when we come together and agree is quite powerful. The rollout of an NDIS will span three parliaments. We know it will take longer than one term. The coalition recognises that there needs to be a mechanism to lift the NDIS beyond partisanship and to ensure it is owned by the parliament, thereby facilitating successful outcomes for all who are directly impacted by a disability.

The Productivity Commission has provided the best road map for achieving an NDIS. The Prime Minister needs to explain—and I ask this honestly—why she continues to encourage a strategy that differs from the guidelines set out by the commission. Until the Prime Minister does this I can only assume that the Labor government is not committed to ensuring the successful delivery of the NDIS long term.

In fact, to date the Prime Minister has constantly undermined the legacy and longevity of the program since the first day the scheme was introduced into parliament. In the 2012-13 budget, the government failed to adequately provide for the first phase of the NDIS, by allocating only $1 billion of the $3.9 billion that the Productivity Commission said was necessary over the forward estimates to commence the launch site. It is unfortunate the Gillard Labor government's increasing debt and interest bill is delaying the full introduction of the NDIS, and as a result is delaying the necessary reforms to improve access and delivery of services to those with a disability, their families and carers. The federal Labor government will be spending more each financial year on debt interest costs than it will spend in total over the next four years on the NDIS.

Furthermore, the Gillard government has failed to commit to the Productivity Commission's target date for the full NDIS by 2018-19. In essence, the Prime Minister has put a small down payment on a program to which the government will not give any long-term commitment or support. People with a disability and their carers and families deserve more than this thinly veiled attempt to appear committed. The NDIS is a reform that requires the cooperation and support of state and territory governments, we all agree, as well as the disability support services sector and most importantly people with disabilities, their families and their carers.

Such reform will take all stakeholders coming together and working together. A workable NDIS will only take effect with states, territories and all the stakeholders incorporated in the plan and in the development as well as in the implementation. It is critical to the success of the initiative that the Prime Minister treat all stakeholders as partners. I reiterate the Leader of the Opposition's and the member for Dawson's call for the Prime Minister to accept the proposal to establish a joint parliamentary committee to be chaired by both sides of politics. It is important that the implementation of the NDIS remain beyond partisanship, and has the commitment of this parliament so that we can ensure the NDIS endures well into the future. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.