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Howard Government yet again fails people with disabilities.

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Media Release Senator Jan McLucas Labor Senator for Queensland Shadow Minister for Ageing, Disabilities and Carers

2 March 2006 Howard Government yet again fails people with disabilities The Howard Government has once again missed the opportunity to investigate the adequacy of funding and services for people with disabilities, by voting against a call from Senator Jan McLucas for an inquiry into the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA). This Inquiry was voted down in December when the Minister responsible was Senator Patterson, and now again today under Mr Brough. “This was a significant and timely opportunity to provide better coordinated services to vulnerable Australians - those with a disability. This was an ideal opportunity to undertake and inquiry as the negotiations are about to commence for the fourth agreement,” Senator Jan McLucas said. “I am appalled the Howard Government has failed to take this opportunity to undertake this inquiry, despite broad support from disability and carers groups, many of whom have been calling for an inquiry for some time,” Senator McLucas said. “The need for an inquiry is also backed up by a recent report by the Australian National Audit Office into the CSTDA, which identified significant unmet need for disability services in Australia and asked whether the CSTDA was even actually meeting its objectives. “The ANAO Report also stated there was a lack of coordination with other Commonwealth Government departments, such as transport, housing and education, despite these departments being required for key priority areas in the CSTDA. “As predicted, this Government will not allow anything contentious get through to the inquiry process, and now people with a disability have been caught up in the Howard Government’s Senate tactics.

“The Senate’s agenda is not being set by the people who were elected by the people in their States and Territories to represent them in the Senate Chamber, but is being set by the executive of the Government. We now know that any decision about any inquiry has to go through the Liberal and National party room.

“This is not a political inquiry; it is an inquiry that people with disabilities, their service organisations and their advocates want. They want to be part of the discussions leading up to the fourth agreement.

“Not allowing an inquiry to go ahead is a serious undermining of what is one of the powerful roles of the Senate - to properly allow elected representatives to inquire into existing and potential policy.

“It just goes to show how out of touch and increasingly arrogant this Government is when dealing with the needs of Australians, including those with a disability and their carers.

“Labor understands the need for such an inquiry which would allow those with disabilities and their carers to comment on current arrangements and suggest solutions for future agreements.”

Contact: Senator Jan McLucas 0407 169 206 Heather Witham 0417 010 734