Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme, Gambling reform, AWU, Liberal’s smear campaign: Doorstop, Canberra

E & OE – Proof only

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) from New South Wales that they’re concerned about the lack of consultations so far in the process, can you guarantee that this will be remedied as we go forward with this legislation?

JENNY MACKLIN: There’s been an enormous amount of consultation so far, we’ve had not only consultations with the states and territories, but extensive consultations with so many people who have a disability, many, many public forums, some of which I’ve attended, many attended by Jan McLucas. We’ve also had the National Disability and Carer Alliance conducting separate consultations all around Australia. Those consultations will continue over the next few months, through the Parliamentary Committee, and I certainly encourage individuals and organisations to have their say to the Parliamentary Committee, but also to continue to have their say through the established website. We’ve had thousands of people already contribute to the website, and that’s why I’m so thrilled with the way in which we’ve been able to listen to the contributions so far, and of course we’ll continue to do so.

JOURNALIST: Some of those same state colleagues have also criticised the bill for lacking in flexibility, how will that be addressed?

JENNY MACKLIN: The bill, in fact, creates many opportunities for flexibility, the bill establishes the framework for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, makes clear that people with a disability will have the right to choice and control, which of course is the absolute essence of what they want. People with disability want choice and control over the care and support that they will receive. That’s what the Disability Insurance Scheme is all about. There will also be a whole range of additional rules that will be put in place following the legislation, we will discuss those with people with disability, and of course their carers, with the states and territories, and they too will enable further flexibility with the legislation.

JOURNALIST: If I can ask you about another topic, can you guarantee that the pokies trial in the ACT will occur before the next election?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’re hoping the legislation will be debated in the Parliament this week, and of course, we’re still continuing to discuss the details of the mandatory pre-commitment trial with both the clubs sector here in the ACT, and with the ACT Government.

JOURNALIST: I’m sure you’re aware that Clubs ACT have said that they’re not willing to have that trial before the election?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well as I said, we’re still continuing to discuss these issues with them and with the ACT Government.

JOURNALIST: Back on the NDIS, how are the funding negotiations going in the lead up to COAG?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well first and foremost, I think what’s so positive is that the Government, federally, has already committed $1 billion extra in this year’s budget, and of course, that $1 billion will enable the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We have financial contributions and the agreement of five jurisdictions including the Australian Capital Territory, but also New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and I thank all of those jurisdictions, not only for their agreement, but also for their financial contribution to the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The Federal Government has indicated we’ll have more to say about further funding in next year’s budget.

JOURNALIST: Just on another matter of the day, what do you make of the Coalition’s push for stricter penalties for union officials who misuse members’ money?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course, it’s the Australian Labor Party that understands just how important trade unions are to the protection of working people, and that’s why we want to see strong trade unions that do the right thing by their membership, which the vast majority of trade unions and their officials do.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the AWU, do you think it’s time Bruce Wilson also spoke to the Police like Ralph Blewitt has?

JENNY MACKLIN: It’s entirely a matter for him, but what I would say, is that your questions indicate that while the Opposition is more intent on smear, the Government is intent on delivering the major reforms that the Australian people want. The Australian people, and especially people with disability, especially carers and family members, want to see the start of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and of course, this week we’ll see a most exciting step forward, the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme legislation. Thank you.