Coalition Reveals NDIS Blowout
21 November 2013 at 8:48 am
|Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield at the National Press Club.|
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will take longer to fully implement and cost more than anticipated, the Coalition Government has revealed.
In an address at the National Press Club in Canberra, entitled “A better deal for Australians with Disability”, Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield revealed that NDIS costs had already gone over budget by 30 per cent.
“The number of people interested in taking part in the scheme across the launch sites was 3222 – 50 per cent more than expected number of participants for the period from July 1 to September 30,” Fifield said.
“Although there are a substantial number of plans in progress, the bilateral agreements with the States had a target of 2,208 for that period.
“In addition, plan costs are exceeding modelled average costs by around 30 per cent.
“What this means in dollar terms is that instead of coming out at the expected average package cost of $34,969, as based on the work of the Productivity Commission, they are currently costing $46,290 for the first quarter.
“To summarise, completing plans is taking longer than anticipated. Demand, so far, is greater than expected and package costs are higher.”
Fifield confirmed that the NDIS will, in full rollout, have a gross cost of $22 billion per annum and require, an additional contribution from the Federal Government of more than $8 billion each year from 2019-20.
However, he confirmed the Coalition Government’s commitment to the scheme.
“You will remember that we didn’t propose the increase in the Medicare Levy,” he said.
“You will remember that we thought the levy increase would not have been necessary had the previous government prioritised differently.
“But we voted for it. We did so because we didn’t think that Australians with disability should miss out on the better deal they deserve due to what we saw as poor decisions by the previous government. That wouldn’t have passed the fair go test. We wanted the NDIS to become a reality.”
Fifield also announced the Government would be re-establishing a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the NDIS to serve as a non-partisan oversight committee.
“As a new Government, the Coalition brings an open mind to looking at the issues that emerge from the launch sites,” he said.
“We want to learn from the experiences of people with disability in the Barwon, the Hunter, Tasmania and South Australia.
“To get this right will require a very high level of consultation and attention to detail not just now, not just in the launch sites, but from now until full implementation.
“The parliamentary oversight committee, I hope, will lock in cross party support over the three parliaments that it will take to fully implement the NDIS.”
Fifield also sent a clear warning to the Opposition, in particular the former minister for disability reform Jenny Macklin.
“The previous minister, Jenny Macklin, during the election, in the caretaker period and without the knowledge, consent or agreement of partner state governments, went from key seat to key seat announcing that each area was going to be next to benefit from the NDIS roll out,” he said.
“And since the election Ms Macklin has been going from area to area stating that the Coalition was not going to honour these roll out agreements …
“But for the previous minister to try and pass off campaign press releases as duly negotiated commonwealth-state bilateral agreements and then, post-election, to accuse the Coalition of reneging on agreements that never existed is, quite frankly, appalling.
“And recently Ms Macklin has even gone so far as to say the Coalition was no longer committed to the full roll out of the NDIS.
“My message for the Opposition is ‘come on, don’t do this. Don’t play politics with the fears and apprehensions of people with disability’.”
Fifield said that so far the NDIS had commenced in four launch sites – the Barwon, the Hunter, Tasmania and South Australia – with eight offices and 500 staff.