Joint Doorstop Interview
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: DisabilityCare Australia; National Plan for School Improvement; Live animal exports; Federal election; Asylum seekers; Great Barrier Reef; CCTV; Victorian taxi dispute
PM: I’m delighted to be here in Victoria.
I’m joined by the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, by the Premier of Victoria, and by his Minister for Disability Services Mary Wooldridge, and we’re here today together to make a very important announcement.
An announcement that matters to the people of Victoria and matters right around Australia.
So I am delighted to announce that the Premier and I have agreed that DisabilityCare will be rolled out throughout Victoria, that Victoria and the Federal Government will work together on the rollout of the full scheme.
What that means is we will move from the launch site in the Barwon region, which is for 5000 people through to full rollout for more than 100,000 Victorians. DisabilityCare will be in full operation in Victoria from the middle of 2019, from mid-2019.
We’ve worked together on the finances for this and the Commonwealth Government in a full year of operation will make available $2.6 billion and the Victorian Government will make available $2.5 billion.
It is a substantial effort, but it is there to ensure that the people we have met today and Victorians with disabilities get the care and support they need.
More than that, it is to ensure that everyone in Victoria who faces life’s chances, all of the chances of very good things that could happens, but all of the risks of living a life, including the risk of at some time in your life having a major disability, that every Victorian can feel the peace of mind of knowing that DisabilityCare would be there to support them.
Before handing over to the Premier on this important day, I do want to say a few words of thanks to the people who are gathered with us today.
I want to say thank you to all of those who have argued for DisabilityCare for decades now.
To everyone in the disability advocacy sector, to everyone with a disability and their family and friends who have raised their voices to say, as a nation, we need to do better.
Their voices have been raised for a long period of time. DisabilityCare isn’t actually a new idea.
It’s not a new idea to have a National Disability Insurance Scheme, it’s been the subject of advocacy, literally for decades.
But we needed to listen to those voices and we have listened.
And I’m very pleased and proud that we have.
And having listened to you, we’ve now worked together to make sure we can see full rollout in Victoria.
This is the end of a pretty amazing week for DisabilityCare in Australia, and that’s one of the reasons that I’m seeing some people for a second time this week.
We leave this week knowing that DisabilityCare has been legislated, it is the law of Australia. Knowing that there is an ongoing funding source, the Medicare levy to support DisabilityCare.
And knowing after today that DisabilityCare has been secured for almost 70 per cent of the Australian population and I and Jenny Macklin will keep working with the remaining states and territory to get this done around the nation.
It’s with a great sense of pleasure that I hand over to the Premier for his words.
PREMIER NAPTHINE: Thank you.
Thank you very much Prime Minister, and can I acknowledge Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Jenny Macklin as Minister for Disability Reform in the Federal Government, Mary Wooldridge, Minister for Disability Reform and Services in the Coalition Government here in Victoria, and Andrea Coote as Parliamentary Secretary.
This is a great day for Victoria, and a particularly proud day for all of those people who fought long and hard for proper disability services in this state.
We in Victoria are very proud that we have been leaders in disability services in this state for many, many years. We have been one of the first states to fund individual people with disabilities, and giving them the power to make their own decisions about the services they purchase.
We are a state who have been very much on the front foot of fighting for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
We certainly are very proud of the fact that the launch site in Barwon will start on 1 July this year, and we have been very much to the forefront of promoting that launch site which will benefit 5000 people in the Barwon region.
We have been working hard with the groups across Victoria to make sure that we could deliver to Victoria a disability service system that takes care of the needs of all those with significant and profound disabilities.
And I’m very, very proud today, as Premier of Victoria, with Mary Wooldridge as Minister, to sign up with the Federal Government for a full rollout of DisabilityCare in this state from July 2019.
What will happen is the launch site will start in Barwon on 1 July this year. From 1 July 2016, the transition will be over three years for the full scheme rollout in 2019.
And in 2019 as the Prime Minister said, there will be $2.5 billion from the Victorian Government together with $2.6 billion from the Federal Government making sure that the over 100,000 Victorians who have a disability, be it a significant or profound disability, will have the care that they need, the support that they need, the programs they need to live as full and independent and as quality-of-life as they can, and that’s what we’re working towards and that’s what we’re achieving.
Can I say on a personal note, that aside from my role as a politician, I spent two years as house parents for a the intellectually disabled, in Hamilton.
I met a young boy there. He was six at the time, severely autistic. He’s proudly part of my family today.
And so, as a person, as a family member, as a carer, as somebody who’s worked in the disability area, and as a politician, I’m very, very proud to be here today, as a Victorian, with Victoria signing up to the full DisabilityCare system from 2019 and the leadup to it.
This is a really great day for Victoria. It’s a great day for people with disabilities, their carers and their families. It is a day we can all be proud of.
I’d like to join with the Prime Minister to thank Jenny Macklin, Mary Wooldridge and Andrea Coote for their leadership and their work in this area over a considerable time.
I’d like to thank all the advocates, all the people who’ve worked for so long in the area of disabilities.
I know the people who have worked as carers, the people who have worked in CRUs and houses, people who’ve worked in day program areas.
They are absolutely compassionate, loving people.
And to all the people with disabilities in this state, can I say this is a great day.
You can be very proud of what both your federal and state governments have done today because this will make a difference and we can be very proud that we’ve been part of making a difference to people who need it most.
PM: We’re happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how far away are you from doing a deal with the remaining states and territories?
PM: We’ll be getting on with that work. I mean we’re now in a situation where we’re almost 70 per cent of the Australian population.
We’ve got more work to do with Queensland, with the Northern Territory and with Western Australia, and Jenny Macklin and I will be getting on with that work during the course of the weeks to come.
JOURNALIST: Will they be the hardest deals to do?
PM: Well all of the arrangements are the same for jurisdictions to come on. This is a national scheme, so by definition what people get out of it, the support that they get out of it has to be the same.
One of the things we want to make sure is that people with disabilities and their families can choose to move interstate the way other families do, and one of the things that we’ve had very clearly as feedback is that people manage to put bits of care together and then think if I went to another state, if a family member of mine went to get a job opportunity in another state, how would I put my package of care together if I moved?
And so that’s a big restriction on people and so we want services around the country to give people the same entitlements so that if your family did decide to move from Victoria to Western Australia or the other way around, that you would know that you were going to get the same care and support.
So the arrangements are the same, obviously different states have got different populations and so the amount of funding is different, but the arrangements are the same and we’ll be taking those same arrangements to the remaining jurisdictions.
JOURNALIST: Are you surprised at how quickly this has progressed in the last seven days?
PM: Well, for us it comes on top of years and years of work, and that’s for us, and I know that I’m looking out on a crowd of people for whom this has been the labour, literally, of a lifetime, so when you use the word ‘quick’ it’s got to be understood in a proper context.
I think for us we’ve worked on it now over a number of years, asked the Productivity Commission for guidance, then got the Productivity Commission report, then responded to it, then made available a billion dollars to get the launch sites done, negotiated with states and territories for that, and then we’ve kept doing the work and that has brought us to this week where we’ve seen considerable movement over seven days.
But you only get to that big movement over seven days if the years and years of work in the leadup has been done.
And it’s a tribute to so many advocates around the country that it’s been done, and I am very proud that as a Government, as a Federal Government, we genuinely listened and responded as worked with them and now colleagues around the states who have been running disability services and doing many good things have seen their way to taking the steps necessary to join together to get this done for everyone here in Victoria.
And we’re obviously very hopeful, everyone around the country.
JOURNALIST: Can you explain in terms of the eligibility criteria specifically who will benefit and who won’t?
PM: Well the eligibility criteria is dealt with in the legislation, so that’s already gone through the parliament and become the law of Australia.
Yes of course there are regulations and rules to make under that legislation, and we’re getting on with doing that work.
I’ll turn to Jenny Macklin to take you through what’s in the legislation which is available now.
MINISTER MACKLIN: Thanks very much Prime Minister.
The legislation sets out the eligibility criteria, so people need to have a permanent disability and then within the different types of disability – intellectual disability, physical, cognitive, sensory, psychiatric disabilities – then of course we’ll look at the reasonable and necessary support that people need to be able to participate in society.
So those eligibility criteria as clearly set out in the now Act of Parliament that went through the parliament at the end of March.
JOURNALIST: Premier, can I ask you, given that you often say that Victoria is a leader when it comes to disability services, why did it take a while to get to this point? What were some of the sticking points?
PREMIER NAPTHINE: We had to work through a number of issues with our people with disabilities, first and foremost, our service providers and of course there were financial arrangements that had to be agreed so that we could be assured that we would have the best outcome possible for people with disabilities, their families and carers.
That was our prime responsibility.
And certainly we have to do it within a sustainable funding model.
We’re very proud that we, as a Liberal-National Government, have economic management as the core of what we do and we need to manage our budget in tight and challenging times that we can provide the services needed and we can fund things like DisabilityCare, but we can do it in a responsible way that’s sustainable.
JOURNALIST: Premier, will you need to raise a new levy or taxes like Canberra did to come up with the $2.5 billion to fund the scheme?
PREMIER NAPTHINE: We expect that our current financial situation, with the assistance through the payments to Victoria through the new Medicare levy, that we believe we can find the funding concerned.
But this will require challenges for our budget, and the Victorian budget is a tight budget in challenging economic times.
But we have as our core good sound economic management and we believe that with the existing funding we provide in disability services – about $1.5, $1.6 billion – ramping that up to $2.5 billion by 2019 will be achievable with the assistance through the Medicare levy rebates to Victoria.
JOURNALIST: Now that you’ve signed up to one major piece of national reform, where do you stand on the other major piece of national reform?
PREMIER NAPTHINE: Well again, we stand in broad principle, we support improved educational outcomes.
We support a better educational system, and we’re happy to continue bilateral negotiations and discussions with the Federal Government to try and achieve a better funding model and a better outcome for education.
But we will ensure that in Victoria that there is no school disadvantaged, no child disadvantaged and no family disadvantaged in those negotiations.
JOURNALIST: So you haven’t made up your mind yet on Gonski?
PREMIER NAPTHINE: Well, we have the same objectives and what we ought to do is work bilaterally in a cooperative way to try and get the best outcome.
But I do emphasise as I’ve said a couple of times, these are challenging economic times for the state of Victoria, we don’t have the growth taxes that our federal counterparts have, and so therefore it is more difficult for us to maintain our triple-A credit rating, to maintain the strength of our economy, and fund key infrastructure like East-West Tunnel, East-West Link, Metro Tunnel and Port of Hastings as well as fund these important services.
So it’s a balancing act that we believe we’re up to, but it certainly takes a lot of work.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can we ask you about the claims of animal cruelty in Egypt?
PM: The Minister for Agriculture will address this matter in more detail later today, but can I just say obviously any animal cruelty is repulsive to all of use.
It’s also repulsive to this industry. I know from my own discussions with industry that people who raise these animals don’t want to see them treated in a cruel way, and so I very much welcome the voluntary suspension that industry has put in place for exports to Egypt.
JOURNALIST: This is not the first time we’ve seen vision like this. Do you think it’s time for a review of Australia’s livestock industry?
PM: No, we put the right policies in place arising out of some examples of animal cruelty that shocked the nation and shocked people within the industry itself. We are now able to do tracking and tracing of animals as they move overseas.
We have received this footage and the Minister for Agriculture will be in a position to deal with it in detail, but I am pleased to see that there’s been a voluntary suspension from industry.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, why do you think there’s been a surge in asylum seeker boats this week?
PM: This is a complex issue. People smuggling is a transnational crime. Like all other transnational crimes it changes its way of working over time, so yesterday’s solutions don’t work again.
You’ve always got to be taking the best of advice and acting on it. We did take the best of advice from Angus Houston’s team.
I think it’s to be deeply regretted that we haven’t been able to put all of that in place, because of the negativity we’ve seen on the other side of parliament.
I do note that the Leader of the Opposition has now significantly stepped away from his commitment to stop the boats. I think that’s a recognition of just how complex an area this is.
JOURNALIST: Will you be changing your strategy though?
PM: We are always guided by the Houston report.
There are elements of that report that we haven’t been able to enact yet. We would enact them if we could get them through the federal parliament and I think that shows unfortunately that negativity costs and negativity does make a difference in the real world.
So we would enact them and we’ll always be guided by the best of advice for the future.
JOURNALIST: Do you think they may be trying to get in before the election when the policies may be a bit tougher?
PM: There’s absolutely no evidence of that, no, and I do note the Leader of the Opposition has stepped significantly away from his stated commitment to stop the boats.
JOURNALIST: What are your thoughts on Angry Anderson running for a safe Labor seat?
PM: That’s a matter for the preselection processes of the relevant political party.
JOURNALIST: UNESCO has again expressed disappointment in Australia’s lack of commitment for greater protection for the reef, particularly of developments outside of existing port areas. Is it time for Australia to step up its reef commitment?
PM: We are very committed to keeping the Great Barrier Reef as the wonderful heritage area for the world that it is and for our nation.
Very recently, indeed in the last couple of weeks, I announced a $200 million Reef Rescue commitment.
That’s building on a past commitment, renewing it for the future. It’s about working with farmers in a way that increases their productivity but also decreases the amount of run-off that then goes into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
So we are very committed and we’ll keep pursuing those kind of commitments for the future.
JOURNALIST: The New South Wales Premier says he’s going to legislate to ensure the continued use of CCTV cameras in the state after a council banned their use there yesterday. Are you a supporter of CCTV?
PM: We were actually having a conversation about this just before, yes, I am a supporter of CCTV and the Federal Government has got a community safety program where one of the things that communities can put in applications for is the further rollout of CCTV.
Now no one thing fixes every issue but I do believe CCTV has a role to play in community safety and that’s why we support it through Federal Government money and will continue to do so.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask the Premier a question. Premier, what do you think about the protests yesterday? Do you expect some resolution on the taxi issue?
PREMIER NAPTHINE: This is an issue for the Melbourne Airport Corporation and I would urge them to sit down and resolve this issue with the taxi drivers and taxi operators.
What we don’t want is taxi drivers protesting, interrupting people going about getting on and off aeroplanes and meeting friends and relatives so I would ask the taxi drivers to show some common sense and I would ask them to sit down with the airport operators and get a speedy resolution to what is a dispute that should be resolved very quickly.
JOURNALIST: On the security issue, would you ever legislate to install protective barriers or cages for taxi drivers?
PREMIER NAPTHINE: Well, we believe that the Taxi Directorate is the best one to give us the advice on that.
They talk regularly with taxi operators and taxi drivers. We are very much in favour of actions that can make it safer for taxi drivers and if taxi drivers want more protection then there’s the opportunities for them to introduce that.
PM: Thank you very much.