Senate debates

Monday, 27 November 2023


National Disability Insurance Scheme; Order for the Production of Documents

10:02 am

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the explanation.

Once again, the government is failing to comply with an order of the Senate. The order of the Senate is simple. We are requesting the government provide to the public the financial sustainability framework signed off by the states and territories. Based upon this framework, the government in its last budget booked over $50 billion of cuts to the NDIS—$50 billion worth of cuts! Before anyone from Labor tries to argue that they aren't cuts, I would refer them to every statement that the Labor Party made about Tony Abbott's reckless and dangerous cuts to health, education and the ABC after the 2014 budget.

The Abbott government framed those cuts as simply corrections to trajectory in expenditure in exactly the same way the government is attempting to do in relation to the financial sustainability framework, and the Labor Party rightly called them out for the $8 billion of cuts to health, housing and education that they were. Upon the very same basis, the Australian Greens have been very clear in calling these cuts out as the cuts they are. It is the Labor Party's continuing failure to publicly provide the details of the financial sustainability framework they agreed with their state chief ministers and premiers that is driving so much fear in the disability community. Disabled people believed that the cycle of mistrust, of misleading in relation to our NDIS was over with the removal of the Liberal government. But by their actions, they have recreated this environment of deepest fear in the community, particularly for neurodivergent people, particularly for autistic people.

This feeling of fear and distrust is made so much deeper when the very minister in charge of the NDIS takes to the public airways to make claims that are rightly labelled by disability advocacy organisations as misleading and unhelpful. What were these misleading and unhelpful comments? In relation to autistic people and the relationship between the diagnosis of autism and access to the NDIS, the minister for the NDIS said, 'We want to move away from diagnosis writing into the scheme because then what happens is everyone gets the diagnosis. Again, just so I'm really clear, this is the full quote in context:

… obviously there's every person is an individual and unique and it all depends on evidence. We just want to move away from diagnosis writing you into the scheme because what happens is everyone gets the diagnosis …

Has this man ever in his life experienced what it is actually like to get an autism diagnosis in Australia—the amount of time it takes, the amount of money it costs and the stigma that you face? What a ridiculous, offensive thing to say! How awfully that perpetrates the idea that neurodivergent people, particularly autistic people, are in some way faking their condition.

This comes on the back of months—in fact, years now—where both sides of politics have perpetrated a lie and supported the continual spreading of a lie, and the lie is simply this: there are more people in the community diagnosed autistic than there actually are autistic people in the community. There is no evidence to support this claim. There is no evidence of an overdiagnosis of autistic people in the Australian society, because there is no data speaking to the baseline existence of autistic people in our society pre the NDIS. There is evidence, pre the NDIS, that the state based support systems for diagnosis and assessment were patchwork, underfunded and often non-existent pre the NDIS. The NDIS has come in and people have finally been able to get access to the services and supports they need, and somebody is tracking the data. Therefore, we now see autistic people in the community.

The Greens will continue to call for transparency and call out ablism.


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