Disability Advocate Questions Govt Commitment to NDIS
Friday, 2nd May 2014 at 12:28 pm
A national disability rights and advocacy organisation says it has grave concerns about the Federal Government’s commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after the National Commission of Audit Report recommended its rollout be delayed.
According to the People with Disability Australia (PWDA) President Craig Wallace, delaying the NDIS rollout further would plunge people with disability and services providers into a no man’s land of uncertainty well into the next decade.
PWDA said they agreed that the NDIS needed to be delivered in an efficient and effective way.
However, it said economists had repeatedly stated that "from an economic perspective, the benefits of the NDIS will exceed the costs" (Productivity Commission 2011), and that “the cost to governments of disability support without reform would be two to three times the cost of the NDIS” (PriceWaterouseCooper 2011).
“The NDIS must be fully funded and delivered on time so that we can start to reap these economic benefits, as well as the vast improvement in lives of people with disability that the scheme can deliver,” Wallace said.
Wallace said people with disability also stand to lose under Commission of Audit recommendations if the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) was made a prescribed agency under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA).
“Reporting to a Minister is problematic,” Wallace said, “and we are concerned that people with disability will be left with another bureaucracy governed by the whims of Ministers rather than a piece of sovereign national infrastructure dedicated to the people it was designed to serve. The NDIA only opened yesterday and we are already talking about turning it into a government department.
“The Commission of Audit is advisory to Government, and the Government should consider its recommendations in the context of its ironclad guarantee to the Australian people that they would deliver the NDIS on time and in full.
“The Coalition has committed to delivering the NDIS in keeping with the Productivity Commission’s vision and the timetable detailed by the intergovernmental agreements between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories (Coalition Policy for Disability & Carers, August 2013) and people with disability expect the Coalition to deliver on its promises.”
The delaying of the NDIS rollout was among the Commission of Audit report’s 86 recommendations, which also included increasing the retirement age to 70, a $15 co-contribution fee for a doctor's visit, a means test on aged care funding and carers, abolishing the Family Tax Benefit Band and many other changes in a bid to make savings of between $20-$30 billion in the 2017-18.
The Government said it would not provide an immediate response to each of the report’s recommendation – its response to the Commission of Audit report will be its first Budget on May 13.
To view Phase One of the National Commission of Audit report and its recommendations, click here.