Minister for the NDIS included in Morrison’s new-look cabinet
27 May 2019 at 2:54 pm
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed the first ever dedicated minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as part of a major cabinet reshuffle in wake of the federal election.
Liberal MP Stuart Robert will enter cabinet as the minister for the NDIS after the scheme was taken out of the social services portfolio.
This appointment builds on Morrison’s pledge to prioritise the NDIS, which has been beset by problems around access, pricing and implementation.
“Top of the list for improving services will be ensuring we deliver on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, working to our goal of the NDIS supporting 500,000 Australians by 2024/25,” Morrison said.
“The NDIS is a major social reform and there is much work to do to improve the delivery of these services on the ground.”
I’m incredibly honoured to be appointed Minister for NDIS & Government Services. I look forward to my new roles – especially working with people with disabilities.
— Stuart Robert MP (@stuartrobertmp) May 27, 2019
Robert has been beset by controversy in recent years, resigning as minister for veterans’ affairs and human services in 2016 after a scandal involving a “private” trip to Beijing to oversee a mining deal involving a major Liberal donor and a Chinese vice-minister.
In October last year, he was forced to pay back $38,000 following revelations he claimed more than $2,000 a month of taxpayer funds for his private internet use.
Labor MP Linda Burney attacked Robert’s appointment on Twitter, questioning whether the appointment was a “stunt”.
“This man can’t even manage his Wi-Fi,” Burney said.
“People who rely on the NDIS deserve a minister who genuinely believes in the scheme. Not six ministers in six years.”
A stunt, surely? This man can’t even manage his wifi https://t.co/cb5oErt9dj
— Linda Burney MP (@LindaBurneyMP) May 26, 2019
But disability groups have welcomed Robert’s appointment, as well as Senator Anne Ruston’s appointment as minister for social services – replacing Paul Fletcher who becomes the new minister for communications.
National Disability Services acting CEO David Moody said he looked forward to working with the two ministers, so that service providers were able to provide quality services and supports for people with disability.
“The decision to appoint a minister who will focus on the NDIS, is positive news for everyone who is participating in and relying upon the scheme, and working to deliver quality supports for people with disability,” Moody said.
“Minister Robert and Minister Ruston have work ahead to fix a range of issues with the NDIS. NDS will continue to support this great social reform that so many Australians wanted and now depend upon.”
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) CEO Ross Joyce also pledged his support for the new ministers, tweeting that he hoped to work with them to ensure people not covered by the NDIS received “access to the services and supports they require to fully participate in society”.
Looking forward to working with @Anne_Ruston and @stuartrobertmp to improve the lives of Australians with disability, fixing the #NDIS, and ensuring ppl with #disability not covered by the NDIS receive access to the services & supports they require to fully participate in society pic.twitter.com/C504EfSPhu
— Ross Joyce (@AFDO_CEO) May 26, 2019
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare CEO Deb Tsorbaris said that Minister Ruston now had an opportunity to reverse government cuts to child care, income support, and family payments.
She told Pro Bono News the centre was concerned about the reduction of social services funding, noting that some long-term programs have already been defunded.
“We also have seen the further extension of punitive cashless cards on people receiving income support, and nothing has been done to address the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care,” Tsorbaris said.
“The federal government must work with states and territories to ensure every child, every young person is given the best possible chance to succeed in life.”
Also in the social services space, Luke Howarth MP has been appointed assistant minister for community housing, homelessness and community services.
Senator Zed Seselja has retained responsibility for the charity sector under the new title of assistant minister for finance, charities and electoral matters, while Ken Wyatt MP has become the first ever Indigenous minister for Indigenous Australians.
Youth groups lobbying for a representative in government have celebrated Senator Richard Colbeck’s appointment as the minister for youth – the first minister for young people since 2013.
— AYAC (@AYAC_) May 26, 2019
The Australian Council of Social Service congratulated the members of the new Morrison government ministry.
ACOSS director of policy Jacqueline Phillips urged Minister Ruston, Assistant Minister Howarth and Assistant Minister Seselja to strengthen the government’s relationship with the community sector.
“ACOSS believes that the lifting of restrictions on the ability of government-funded organisations to advocate on behalf of the people they represent or assist is needed, to give a voice to people affected by government policies,” Phillips said.
“We welcome the elevation of the NDIS to a ministry. Improving the roll out of the NDIS must be an urgent priority for the Morrison government along with the royal commission into violence against people with disability.”