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Thursday, 19 September 2019
Page: 2726

Senator O'SULLIVAN (Western Australia) (15:08): I rise to take note of the answers given to questions on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I find it quite challenging that those opposite would want to use political point-scoring here. The reality is this is a very important program that exists. In fact, it's one of the biggest social reforms in Australia's history. The NDIS has undergone significant growth, from approximately 30,000 participants at the end of 30 June 2016 to almost 300,000 participants as at 30 June 2019. This is a significant increase, and 100,000 of those participants are receiving support and services for the very first time. To use the plight of individuals in this way, to politicise it, I think is a shameful act that we're seeing from those opposite.

Since the commencement of NDIS, the active provider market has also grown from around 3,500 service providers as at 30 June 2016 to more than 21,000 as at 30 June 2019—an increase of 600 per cent.

We know that the number of participants entering the NDIS is lower than originally estimated. As at 30 June 2019, there were 298,816 participants who had received disability support from the NDIS. This represents 72 per cent of the original bilateral estimates. The progress has been consistent throughout the NDIS trial and transition phase. The minister, when giving an answer to the question from those opposite, gave the analogy that they inherited a plane flying in the air that was only half built. This government were responsible for building the NDIS and working on the transition with the states, and they have been working on that while it's still flying in the air. They've built the system, and it's now been rolled out. We're seeing the product of that. We're seeing the differences that are being made.

Those opposite are prepared just to give an example for political pointscoring across the chamber without any real substance or evidence. We know, as I speak to backbenchers and other colleagues in the other place, that, given the nature of this system—the complexity of it and, of course, the difficulties that those who have to use it are finding—when they bring their issues forward in a constructive way to members and senators, those members and senators are able to take those issues to the minister responsible. And we're hearing from around the country how those issues are going to be dealt with. Of course there are going to be situations. Of course there are going to be administrative problems and issues that come up from time to time. But this government and the minister responsible for this are active in resolving those issues, and I think the minister ought to be commended for the work that he's doing in such a short time. We are hearing that things can be turned around within 24 to 48 hours. Rather than bringing cases into this place and expecting that these issues can be resolved, why don't you bring forward the challenges and the issues in a constructive way? Deal with this government. Bring them forward so that they can be dealt with like we're seeing on our side of the chamber.

Despite the best efforts of the National Disability Insurance Agency, the NDIA, as well as Commonwealth, state and territory governments, there are some people who may be eligible for the NDIS who remain difficult to contact and engage with. We are aware of the challenges in this situation and we are focused on that. The question that could have been noted today was the question to Senator McKenzie about the NAIF program. This government were able to announce today a loan that has gone to an Aboriginal owned mining company—the first of its kind in this country—who are providing employment for people in the Pilbara, in my home state of Western Australia. This is where we should be focusing our efforts in discussing these things: how we can actually assist Australians to get ahead and make better use of the resources that they have so that they can make a better future for themselves—rather than this typical political pointscoring that we hear from those opposite. (Time expired)