Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 October 2023


National Disability Insurance Scheme; Order for the Production of Documents

3:58 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

The government rejects the assertion in the motion. The government has previously outlined that we have claimed public interest immunity over the requested documents, as disclosure would prejudice relations between the Commonwealth and the states and territories. Disclosure would harm the Commonwealth's ongoing relations with the states and territories on this and other matters. The government has publicly released many documents on the framework. The Minister representing the Treasurer has already tabled key documents for the benefit of the Senate including the national cabinet media statement and ministerial media statements, budget papers and parts of the recently released intergenerational report that set out the impact of the framework.

The NDIS is a vital scheme, a measure of Labor's character and our values. We are ensuring that the NDIS can continue to provide life-changing outcomes for future generations of Australians with disability. The scheme was established with the purpose of making sure that the support is available for participants to live an ordinary life. The first step in achieving the eight per cent annual growth targets was the investment of over $732 million in this year's budget to uplift National Disability Insurance Agency capability, capacity and the systems to better support participants and improve the scheme. The government will work collaboratively with the disability community and states and territories to address the NDIS sustainability framework, which was agreed in April by national cabinet, and will ensure that every dollar goes to support those who need it most. This work will be shaped by the independent review of the NDIS, which is due to report shortly and has involved extensive consultation with people with disabilities and other stakeholders. The NDIS review will provide a reform pathway to make the scheme more effective and to achieve the target growth of up to eight per cent from 1 July 2026 as per the NDIS sustainability framework with further moderation as the scheme matures.

While the vision for the NDIS is right, there are a number of design and implementation issues that need to be addressed. All governments share the goal of reaching long-term sustainability for the scheme. The recent intergenerational report shows that in the absence of sustainability framework the NDIS costs would increase to 6.7 per cent of GDP by 2063-64, instead of 2.4 per cent of GDP. The eight per cent annual growth target means the NDIS remains demand-driven, so participants will be able to access the support they need for a fulfilling life. It means we are still provisioning for the growth in the NDIS to support Australians with permanent and significant disability. After a decade of neglect of the NDIS by the Liberals, our investment will moderate unnecessary further increases in the scheme's cost. We look forward to providing a further update of the NDIS Financial Sustainability Framework following a consideration of the NDIS review.

It is worth noting that there's been exponential increase in number of orders for production of documents. They have increased by a nearly third to almost two per sitting day. The data shows they are broader than ever before. Public interest immunity claims shouldn't be used as a measure of failure; they are also a tool that is available to the executive to explain why documents cannot be provided. If the executive is discouraged from making legitimate claims then transparency will reduce, because such an approach is unlikely to elicit greater production of documents. In half the cases where public interest immunity was claimed in response to orders for production of documents, the Senate ordered production of documents that would reveal cabinet deliberations or cause harm to relations between the Commonwealth and the states and territories or to our international relationships. The government acts to balance the demands of the Senate with the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of these deliberations and our relationships with other governments and nations.


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