Senate debates

Monday, 27 November 2023


National Disability Insurance Scheme; Order for the Production of Documents

10:07 am

Photo of Linda ReynoldsLinda Reynolds (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I, too, rise to take note of the minister's quite disgraceful response. Yet again, he spoke for ten seconds. That is nothing short of what we would colloquially call a two-fingered salute to the 631,000 Australians with serious and permanent disability on the NDIS. The contempt which this government is showing for not just Australian taxpayers, but also Australians with disability is quite frankly breathtaking.

They are doing everything they can to hide the data on the forward projections of the NDIS. They have cut $74 billion over the next ten years, but have refused to release the data—the actuarial report—that would demonstrate to Australians with disability where that money is coming from. There are only two ways to cut that amount of funding from an insurance scheme: cutting participant numbers and cutting the average cost per participant. This is from a government who came in promising the world and promising things that they knew they could never, ever deliver to people with disability. It was cruel; it was wrong. They keep compounding that now with their actions, and we have again seen that utter contempt from Senator Farrell on behalf of Minister Shorten.

Not only are they hiding this data, which we will end up finding—we will end up getting it one way or the other, because that is simply the right thing to do, in terms of financial transparency. We're not talking about $1 million. We're not even talking about $1 billion or $10 billion. We are talking about $74 billion that those opposite have ripped out of the NDIS forward projections without telling anybody how they are going to fund it.

Not only have they lost the trust of the disability sector and the confidence of everybody in this chamber and this place with their duplicitous and, quite frankly, cruel behaviour; they've managed to lose the trust of their own Labor state governments! Let me read some of what their own ministers in state governments have said. The Labor Victorian government has accused the Albanese Labor government of being underhanded and keeping states in the dark on how to bring NDIS costs down. I quote the Victorian Labor disability minister, Lizzie Blandthorn:

I'm very concerned, to be honest, about where we find ourselves with the Commonwealth in relation to the NDIS.

…   …   …

I feel very ill equipped to advise our first minister as to how she should approach those discussions when the Commonwealth are being underhanded.

She goes on to say:

There's no clarity as to what it means for foundational support, and the lack of definition means there's no clarity about how much any of that will cost.

She goes on to say:

My fear would be it would fall on the states—

of course it will fall on the states, because it was always the states' responsibility to pay for the disability supports for the four million people who were never going to be eligible for the NDIS—

and I'm also concerned that the Commonwealth Government is going to cut Victorians out of the NDIS.

She said:

I think it's fair to say that there's broad agreement across the Commonwealth that we need to ensure that the NDIS is a sustainable system that works for people with disabilities.

…   …   …

That said, how you get to an 8 per cent target—

the target those opposite have set, without telling Australians how they're going to meet it, when, at the moment, in the last quarter, it was an annualised 15 per cent inflation target rate—

without changing reasonable and necessary and reducing services… I don ' t think the Commonwealth has been forthcoming on that.

She also claimed that there was no modelling available to show disability ministers what it would look like. No wonder those opposite are not complying with this Senate order to deliver the documents that show what's sitting behind the sustainability framework, because it does not yet exist. They're not only keeping people with disabilities and the Senate in the dark; they are also keeping the state ministers, who they somehow think are going to fund this document, in the dark.

The ACT Labor-Greens government has also aired its grievances with the Albanese Labor government. The ACT Minister for Disability, Emma Davidson, has said that she would not agree to any plans to change the scheme, unless better services were in place. She said:

Enough with the talk about costs, and how governments avoid paying for services people need. We should be talking about how to get better support for people.

Shame on you all.


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