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Howard Government fails people with disabilities.

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

8 December 2005

Howard Government fails people with disabilities

The Howard Government has today wasted a significant and timely opportunity to provide better coordinated services to the most vulnerable Australians - those with a disability. Howard Government Senators today voted down a call for a Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth State and Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) to determine the adequacy of funding and services provided to those with a disability. “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,” Senator Jan McLucas said. “This was an ideal opportunity to undertake a bi-partisan inquiry into the CSTDA. The Community Affairs Reference Committee has completed the hearings of the current inquiries in front of it, and will now have no work till February - a total waste of significant resources.” Senator McLucas called for the Senate inquiry into the CSTDA, in response to concern from disability and carers groups from all over Australia, and in the lead up to the negotiations of the fourth agreement. “I am appalled the Howard Government has failed to take this opportunity to undertake an inquiry into the operation of the CSTDA, despite broad support from disability and carers groups, many of whom have been calling for an inquiry for some time,” Senator McLucas said. “It just goes to show how out of touch this Government is with the needs of Australians, including those with a disability and their carers. “Labor understands the need for such an inquiry which would allow the community to comment on current arrangements and suggest solutions for future agreements.” 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, without there being any measure at all in place at Commonwealth Government level to assess the extent of unmet need - or whether the CSTDA was even actually meeting its objectives.

The report also stated there was a lack of coordination with other Commonwealth Government departments despite some of these departments being required for key priority areas in the CSTDA, such as transport, housing and education.

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