Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Questions without Notice
Aged Care and Disability Services
My question is to the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Why does the Morrison government keep leaving vulnerable Australians behind? Isn't that what the aged-care royal commission showed when it found the Morrison government had no COVID plan for aged care during a period when 685 aged-care residents died? Isn't that what the disability royal commission found when it said the Morrison government left Australians with a disability feeling 'forgotten and ignored'?
I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. The government of course rejects completely the premise of what the Leader of the Opposition says, and the facts bear witness to themselves. My last answer went through all the responses and all the areas where the government responded quickly, including 81,000 individual calls to vulnerable participants. At the same time, in terms of disability supports, plans were extended by 24 months, ensuring continuity of support and increasing the capacity of staff to focus on urgent and required changes. Massive phone planning meetings occurred to ensure that face-to-face wasn't required. Increased plan flexibility was put in place to allow participants to purchase additional hours of support coordination from their core or capacity-building budgets.
More importantly, the rate of expenditure of the NDIS ostensibly did not reduce. The same amount of payment, which is now upwards of $5 billion per quarter, increased. We temporarily increased flexibility for participants to purchase low-cost AT items, including smart devices, to enable them to continue to receive their disability supports. We enabled priority access to home delivery services from major supermarket chains so that Australians with disability received priority above all other Australians for Coles and Woolies to deliver their groceries. We allowed participants living in restricted areas to purchase PPE for their own use.
At the same time, we moved away from Labor's record of waiting 90 minutes on the phone to waiting 60 seconds, answering over 160,000 calls. We moved away from 500,000 logins a day on digital platforms to 2.6 million Australians logging in per day. Rather than over 70,000 Australians going into service centres every day, that's now down to 30,000 because of the high volume and high grade of service in telephony and digital channels that Australians can receive. This is the amount of effort that this government put in place to deliver services to vulnerable Australians, whether they were Australians with disability or otherwise, and we will continue to deliver this level of service. We will continue to follow the public health orders that come out of states as we continue to deliver the essential items that Australian citizens require.
I'm proud of what this government has done to stump up for Australians throughout the pandemic and I think everyone on this side should be extraordinarily proud of what we have done. The results globally speak for themselves. Whilst I appreciate that those opposite are the opposition, it would be good for us to sit back and reflect how, in the concert of nations, the performance of this government in taking care of Australians in a once-in-100-year pandemic has gone compared to other nations in the world.