Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin can you clarify exactly what you’re bringing in in legislation today? This is a trial rather than the beginning of a scheme?

JENNY MACKLIN: No, that’s not correct. Today the Government will introduce the legislation to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Prime Minister will put the legislation into the Parliament this morning. It will be debated when the Parliament resumes in February. In the meantime we expect a Parliamentary Committee will examine the legislation so there’ll be further time for the many, many people around the country who are so committed to the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme to make a contribution.

MARIUS BENSON: This is one of those rare moments in these hyper-partisan days when there is bipartisan support in principle for this, but the question is, where’s the money coming from for a scheme that will cost several billions a year when it’s running in full?

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s true. It is going to cost a lot of extra money and that’s because as the Productivity Commission said, the current system of disability care and support is underfunded and unfair. And we want to correct that. That’s the whole purpose of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Government has already committed $1 billion extra in this year’s budget and that will pay for the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And the first stage will start in the Hunter in New South Wales, the Barwon area in Victoria, for young children in South Australia, adolescents in Tasmania, and right across the Australian Capital Territory. So for more than 20,000 people with a disability from the middle of next year will start to see the National Disability Insurance Scheme become real.

MARIUS BENSON: And that’s been described as a trial because it affects 20,000 people, was the number you just gave then, in full when it’s operational how many people will benefit from a National Disability Insurance Scheme?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I don’t describe it as a trial and neither does the legislation. This is the start. This is the start of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the first stage. As the Productivity Commission recommended, they recommended that we start in what they called launch sites, so that’s exactly what we’re doing, starting in different parts of the country because it was recognised by the Productivity Commission, recognised by the Government, and recognised by State Governments as well, that we just can’t do this all at once all right across the country. It is going to take a little bit of time, that’s why we’re starting in around five different parts of the country. In the end the Productivity Commission recommends that it will assist around 400,000 people, but of course their families and carers will also be very, very significantly supported.

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin as I said this scheme has been acclaimed by both sides of Parliament in principle, but today as it’s introduced, it’s likely to be running second to other issues in the final day of Parliament because the Opposition has been asking questions of the Prime Minister’s actions as a lawyer two decades ago. There’s new material out on that today, does the Government have something to worry about with this new material?

JENNY MACKLIN: No, it doesn’t. There’s absolutely nothing new in this material that’s been released today. And I think what’s so disappointing about the behaviour of the Opposition this week, first of all they’ve only been interested in muck-raking. Today we’re introducing legislation to establish a landmark scheme, the National Disability Insurance Scheme that hundreds of thousands of people with disability have been campaigning for and are desperate for. These are the issues that the Government wants to make sure we see implemented for the Australian people and that’s what we’ll concentrate on.

MARIUS BENSON: But when you say there’s nothing new, this material today, previously the Prime Minister has said her involvement in establishing a workplace reform association, an AWU workplace reform association, was simply in advising on its initiation. Now there’s new material showing that she wrote to the WA, the West Australian Commissioner for Corporate Affairs vouching for its bona fides. This is new material showing greater involvement than previously revealed by the Prime Minister?

JENNY MACKLIN: There’s nothing in this material that contradicts anything the Prime Minister has previously said. I think what’s critical, Marius, is that we understand the enormous pressures that are on people with disability, that are on the carers of people with disability. The legislation that will go into the Parliament today that the Prime Minister will introduce into the Parliament today, is the most significant social reform since the introduction of Medicare. This is the issue that I think the Australian people want to see, not only discussed, but of course implemented by the Government and that is taking an enormous amount of work, an enormous amount of commitment by us to make sure we deliver the increased care and support for people with disability that they need.

MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin thank you very much.