Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme, Sky News with David Speers

DAVID SPEERS: Minister, welcome. Just firstly on that endorsement there from the Federal Opposition, Mitch Fifield says they will honour this agreement. Do you welcome that?

JENNY MACKLIN: I certainly do. I think that what this shows is that the time for the National Disability Insurance Scheme has really come. People with disability have waited far too long to make sure that they get the care and support that they need and deserve. And so this agreement with New South Wales really does show the way forward for the whole country. It is a really landmark day for people with disability.

DAVID SPEERS: Going back to the Productivity Commission report on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it recommended the Commonwealth be the sole funder. How did you convince New South Wales to cough up half the money?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve agreed through the Council of Australian Governments for more than a year now that this is an area of shared responsibility. It is the case that at the moment the states make a larger contribution to the costs of disability care and support. The Commonwealth’s made it clear we will increase the amount that we pay, and in the agreement that we’ve struck today with New South Wales, it’s a substantial increase in the contribution from the Commonwealth, and one that we know is desperately needed by people with disability, and of course their carers.

DAVID SPEERS: Is it a substantial increase from New South Wales as well, or is it little change on what they currently spend?

JENNY MACKLIN: New South Wales has made a very significant increase into the forward years, so in the years from now to 2016, New South Wales has already allocated additional money for disability care and support. But in the agreement today they’ve added to that, so that we’re both contributing around $3 billion to the full roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

DAVID SPEERS: Alright, we’re going to explore that further with Premier O’Farrell shortly, but just on the Commonwealth’s commitment here, if the trial process between now and 2018 shows this is going to cost more than you estimate, will this funding split still remain in place, will you still fund 51.4 per cent regardless of what it costs?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve agreed with the New South Wales Government that we will have a full review in 2018, done by the Productivity Commission. We’ve also put in our draft legislation that’s before the Senate enquiry now, to have a review in two years time to see how the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is going…

DAVID SPEERS: …so (inaudible). So this could change at that point?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well really it’s far too early to make any judgements about that. Obviously we’ll have these proper reviews.

DAVID SPEERS: But I’m just wondering what the worth is of today’s agreement. I mean, obviously it’s an important step here, but the Prime Minister said it didn’t have to be legislated, so how do we know, when we do get to the point of a fully operational scheme, how much the Commonwealth will actually contribute?

JENNY MACKLIN: Because we’ve come to an agreement with New South Wales to pay around 51 per cent to the costs of the full scheme in New South Wales. That will be set out in an agreement, signed by the Prime Minister and Premier O’Farrell today, to make sure that that’s exactly what happens from both the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government.

DAVID SPEERS: But there is a real likelihood that neither of them will be in office when it comes to this point in 2018. Wouldn’t legislating this funding split, this funding agreement, be a good idea, because this is something that the Productivity Commission also recommended.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course we’ve got legislation for the scheme in the Parliament right now. Both the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth will make sure through our budgets the funding we’ve agreed to, set out in an intergovernmental agreement, signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales, both of us recognising that this is what needs to be done, and I think what you’ve seen today is an indication that both levels of government want to make this work. There is a determination to deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme for people with disability in New South Wales, and the Commonwealth wants to see…

DAVID SPEERS: …but why not legislate it?

JENNY MACKLIN: We don’t think it’s necessary. Of course the Budget will legislate the money, and that will happen…

DAVID SPEERS: …but the Productivity Commission was pretty clear about this. In fact it said it was ‘essential’, in its words, ‘certainty of future resourcing based on a legislated formula for the funding’.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well the formula has now been agreed, so it will…

DAVID SPEERS: …but not legislated?

JENNY MACKLIN: It will be certain. It is an agreement that we’ve reached, signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales.

DAVID SPEERS: But two leaders who may not be there come 2018.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’d find it very, very surprising if any future leader decided that they would not fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is an area of public policy that Australians want to see implemented, and it’s this Labor Government and the New South Wales Coalition Government that is certainly going to make sure that in New South Wales.

DAVID SPEERS: Now the Prime Minister said no other state would get a better deal than this one. Does that mean no other state will get more than that 51.4 per cent Commonwealth contribution?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s exactly what it means. And of course for some states, Queensland for example, that is so far behind New South Wales, they really have to pick up their game, and they have to put more of their own money into making sure that the system of disability care and support in Queensland is improved.

DAVID SPEERS: Is there a danger here, and perhaps you can clarify this, that once this is operating there could be people in different states facing different levels of service and care provision under an NDIS.

JENNY MACKLIN: No, that’s why we want a National Disability Insurance Scheme, to make sure that we have one scheme right around Australia. Of course we know that each state is not up to the same level, but I don’t think it’s fair for the Commonwealth to cross-subsidise Queensland for example, when we can see New South Wales really making sure that they pull their weight in the way that they have today?

DAVID SPEERS: And will the NDIS just go ahead in those states that have signed agreements with the Commonwealth, even if others have not?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we’ve indicated that we are starting on the 1st of July next year in the five jurisdictions where we already have agreements, so we’ll start in the Hunter in New South Wales, Geelong in Victoria, for children in South Australia and adolescents in Tassie, and we’ll transform the whole system in the Australian Capital Territory. So that will all begin in the middle of next year.

DAVID SPEERS: Now you’ve signed this agreement today, but whoever wins the next election will realistically be the government that has to find the money. The Prime Minister ruled out a levy again for this today. Why not a levy?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve indicated that this scheme will be funded through the budget, and you’ll certainly see further information in the May budget next year. We’ve demonstrated in the past that we’re able to find savings for major reforms, in my own area for the pension reforms, that required significant savings, and we found them.

DAVID SPEERS: But you’ll leave this particular measure to a future government to find the money.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well in the coming budget in May we will of course have to demonstrate how we’ll fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the 2016-17 year, and that will be clear in the budget.

DAVID SPEERS: Alright, Minister for Disability Reform Jenny Macklin, thank you for joining us.