House debates

Monday, 18 February 2019

Questions without Notice

Disability Services

2:00 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. How can the Prime Minister claim that his government never opposed a disability royal commission, when every government senator voted against one just four days ago? Will the Prime Minister reverse his government's position and commit to establishing a royal commission into violent abuse and neglect of people with a disability before the next election?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question, and I welcome those in the gallery who I know have a keen interest in the issue of disabilities, and are indeed living with disability, and their families. The government takes the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities very seriously. At no point as Prime Minister have I ever said that I oppose a royal commission. What I said very clearly in the House last week was that we would consider this matter very carefully. That matter will come before the House later today, and I fully expect the motion to be passed, as I made very clear over the weekend.

On what we will be doing, though, when it comes to dealing with this issue, I'm not seeking to make any partisan points about this.

Opposition Member:

An opposition member interjecting

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I am not, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, who, sadly, is, I think, trying to make a partisan issue out of this. Until last Thursday, the last time the Leader of the Opposition raised a question regarding his proposal for a royal commission into these matters was in May 2017. So, all of a sudden, the Leader of the Opposition recalls a proposal for which he has no terms of reference and no specific details as to how it would be conducted.

As I remarked in response to the message from the Senate today, the government will take this matter on and the government will do what we always do: we will consult with stakeholders. We will consult with the states and territories, because these are matters that have, until this time—prior to the formation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme—been handled by state and territory governments. Something like that will require the concurrence of state and territory governments so that we can ensure that all of the issues over the past decade will be able to be addressed in that type of an inquiry.

The government will have numerous ways that we can pursue this, and we will do the work to ensure that, when we take this issue forward, it will be done in a well thought through manner and without any partisan rancour. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to stop seeking to make this a partisan issue and ensure that we have bipartisanship on the issue of people with disabilities. We provided that when we supported the National Disability Insurance Scheme and we will continue to provide that. I acknowledge Julia Gillard as the former Prime Minister who ensured that that groundbreaking reform was introduced. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to not play politics with disabilities and to put away the way that he has been seeking to address this issue in this House.