Disability Sector Demands PM End NDIS Speculation
20 August 2015 at 12:30 pm
Disability advocates are calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to confirm that the Government will deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme on time and in full, following claims of a leaked debate within Cabinet.
Reports surfaced this week that senior ministers were pushing to slow the scheme’s rollout, only weeks before the Federal Government is due to sign deals with the states.
While Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield denied any delay, People with Disability Australia President Craig Wallace told Pro Bono News Australia News that the sector was not reassured.
“It’s time the Prime Minister actually ruled out any cuts or delays to the NDIS. While we’ve heard from the Minister I think what would enable us to draw a line under it is the Prime Minister, given he’s the one who made the commitment to deliver the NDIS on time and in full,” Wallace said.
“Given that the Prime Minister chairs the Cabinet and it’s now been leaked that this was discussed at Monday night’s Cabinet meeting, what would put everyone’s mind at ease would be if the Prime Minister himself directly and publically made a statement on this.”
The disability community is particularly concerned that New South Wales, the next state to sign onto the scheme, will experience a delay.
“We’re now having reports that the New South Wales agreement was the subject of a cabinet meeting. There is a lot of unmet need for disability services particularly in outer-western Sydney where this pilot was announced,” Wallace said.
“We are concerned whenever they talk about revisiting [agreements with states] as a lot of people with disability and families who are often in dire circumstances due to lack of basic personal care and support, it alarms them and it frightens them and we don’t need that.”
Fifield told Sky News yesterday that the Government remains committed to working with the states to meet the NDIS rollout targets.
“The timeframe is to have the full scheme delivered by 2019. As I say, and this isn’t being tricky, or playing with words, or anything of that nature, we have to land a series of bilateral agreements with each jurisdiction,” Fifield said.
“Each bilateral negotiation will follow its own path. And as I said to the Senate when asked [Wednesday], negotiations with New South Wales are going extremely well, and that I hope to have something to announce in the near future.”
Wallace warned that disability advocates will launch a major campaign against the Federal Government if rumours of delays are confirmed.
“If the NDIS was to be delayed and at any time Government was to renege on their commitment I wouldn’t rule out using all the campaigning means at our disposal to emphasise the importance of the services to people with disability, including campaigns in marginal seats,” he said.
The latest NDIS Quarterly Report, released this week, stated that the NDIS was on target in terms of the number of plans being delivered and the cost per package.