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Disability Agreement one year overdue: Prime Minister, please take over from Vanstone.



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Media Release Annette Ellis MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CANBERRA SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING AND SENIORS

SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING ON DISABILITIES

5 May 2003

Disability Agreement one year overdue - Prime Minister, please take over from Vanstone

The current stand-off between the Commonwealth and the States/Territories about the Australian Health Care Agreements is a stark reminder of the Howard Government’s attitude towards the delivery of human services in this country.

Watching the health care agreement negotiations unfold is like a flashback to the beginning of the negotiations for the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA).

The CSTDA was due to be signed in June 2002. Minister Vanstone has shown contempt for people with disabilities by causing this stand-off between the Commonwealth and States/Territories. As a result, people with disabilities and their families are suffering from lack of accommodation and support services.

Minister Vanstone is unable or unwilling of negotiating this important agreement, and I call on the Prime Minister to step in and ensure that people with disabilities and their families receive the services they so desperately need. After all Mr Howard himself agrees that more respite care is needed.

In an interview with the Prime Minister recently Alan Jones highlighted that there are 23,000 people with disabilities in Australia who have no adequate accommodation, and that many of them are being cared for by their elderly parents who have no access to respite services.

The Prime Minister’s response was: “…there has been some more respite care provided for them but there does need to be more, and I can’t but agree with you.” Interview on Radio 2GB, 14 April 2003

Prime Minister Howard should hang his head in shame for allowing his government to turn the negotiation process for the delivery of human services into a game of political football.

It is not acceptable that the Howard Government fills a wall of contempt between itself and the State/Territory Labor governments.

For further information please call: Annette Ellis MP 0419 422 296 Victoria Toulkidis (Adviser) 0413 459 030