Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Questions without Notice
National Disability Insurance Scheme
My question is to the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Senator Reynolds. How is the Morrison government securing Australia's recovery, which means we can guarantee the NDIS and ensure it is fully funded now and into the future?
I thank Senator Askew for her question. On behalf of the 10,270 Tasmanians who now have a package on this scheme, I am incredibly proud to now be the minister with stewardship of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in what is a very pivotal time in the scheme's history. Today, this scheme has been replicated by no other country in the world. We have delivered the scheme. There are now 450,000 Australians with plans.
The intent of the NDIS was to shift funding to individuals directly and away from block funding to organisations—
Senator Watt interjecting—
thereby giving participants with significant and permanent disability more choice and control over their own lives, which are fundamental values of those on this side of the chamber. But we are now at a point in history where we must work together, and we have to work together across the chamber, across the aisle, to ensure that we can implement a range of strategies that will ensure this scheme endures.
Reasonable and necessary supports must come with some boundaries to not only ensure the scheme is affordable but, most importantly—what I have heard from participants so far—the scheme is transparent, respectful and fair to all participants. Despite the interjections from those opposite, this government is fully funding this scheme, and we are fully committed to it enduring for many generations, well beyond our own lifetimes.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced an additional $13.2 billion out to 2023-24, which he will be announcing formally in the budget tonight. This reflects an absolute unwavering commitment by this side of the chamber to this scheme.
I again thank Senator Askew for the question. While the NDIS has been life-changing for 450,000 Australians, we also need to realise a scheme that can financially endure, as I've said, for many generations to come. Participants entering from the state and territory schemes are today receiving 50 per cent more support, on average, than they were when they transferred into the scheme, and, at the moment, the costs of the NDIS are increasing far more quickly than we ever anticipated. For example, the average payment per participant has increased by 48 per cent, on average, over the last three years, from 2017 to 2020, and the average plan budget has increased by 22 per cent over the same three years. For example, 450 participants receive support packages of over a million dollars a year, and the numbers are far greater today than the 2011 Productivity Commission—
Opposition senators interjecting—
Again, thank you, Senator Askew. Since becoming the minister for the NDIS just over a month ago, I have been extensively consulting with the disability sector: with participants, providers, those with lived experience and, of course, my state and territory counterparts, and including a number of people in this chamber—and I thank you very much for that support. I've made it clear I'll consult on the proposed reforms, wait for the conclusion of the independent assessment trial and discuss the way forward in late July with my state and territory counterparts, who, unlike those opposite, have been incredibly supportive and bipartisan in their approach to the future of this scheme. We have a window of opportunity now to introduce important reforms and to work collaboratively, not only together but also with the disability sector, so that we can make sure the NDIS endures.
I'll finish, if I've got time—very quickly—on Julia Gillard back in 2011.