Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australian Labor Party, DisabiliTEA, National Disability Insurance Scheme, Indigenous affairs

Program: ABC 774 Melbourne

E & OE – Proof only

Subject: Australian Labor Party, DisabiliTEA, National Disability Insurance Scheme, Indigenous affairs.

JON FAINE: Jon Faine with you at Fed Square. Jenny Macklin has been here too. She’s the Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and in context today, Disability Reform. She’s just addressed a morning tea called a ‘DisabiliTea’ – ‘t-e-a’ at the end, here at Fed Square as part of the campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Jenny Macklin, good morning to you.

JENNY MACKLIN: Great to be here.

JON FAINE: We thought we’d grab you off the stage since we could hear you in the background.


JON FAINE: Do you like Fed Square?

JENNY MACKLIN: I do, I do. As a Melbournian, I think it’s terrific, and I think the way the space is used by people in Melbourne, and of course heaps of visitors, there’s a huge group of schoolgirls just walking past. I know during all the summer sporting festivities you can come down here, and same when the footy is on, so I think it’s a great place.

JON FAINE: Maxine McKew might have a different view. She seems to have a different view to other people in the Labor Party on pretty much everything.

JENNY MACKLIN: (laughs) Well, I haven’t read the book Jon, so I’m here to talk about disability.

JON FAINE: Maxine McKew’s book is going to be in the newspapers over the weekend and she’ll be speaking to us on Monday morning. She has a book coming out saying that Julia Gillard knew about, and was a participant in, the coup to get rid of Kevin Rudd. She wasn’t just someone swept up in it as it came to its conclusion.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well these issues have been around for a while…

JON FAINE: …does it destabilise the Government you’re a part of?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t think so. We’re doing so many good things for the country. The Prime Minister today is of course working on the Murray-Darling Basin. I’m here of course being part of building a National Disability Insurance Scheme. So I think the public are actually more, if you talk to all the people with disabilities, their carers, their families who are here at Fed Square joining us today, people from Yooralla, they want to see us build this National Disability Insurance Scheme.

JON FAINE: But it doesn’t go away, does it? That can’t help.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I know some people are interested in that…

JON FAINE: …well I keep asking so I guess that’s part of it…

JENNY MACKLIN: (laughs) You may be, but I can assure you that none of the carers or people with disability that I’ve met this morning were the faintest bit interested. They’re actually mostly keen to see the Disability Insurance Scheme, as they rightly call it, ‘become real’, and it’s going to start to become real in Victoria, down in Geelong, next year.

JON FAINE: Let’s talk about the National Disability Insurance Scheme then. The mid-year economic statement that Wayne Swan delivered the other day, and the subsequent revelations that there is zero income so far from the mining tax, makes it look less and less likely all the time, that the timetable you’ve set for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is going to be kept.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I don’t agree with that. If you look at the allocation we made in this year’s budget, we have allocated $1 billion of extra new money to be spent to build the National Disability Insurance Scheme. So that money’s just been allocated in May, you wouldn’t expect just a few months afterwards, for us to change that. We’re in the process of getting the start of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on the ground…

JON FAINE: …are those the trials that the State Governments are squabbling over?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well they’re not squabbling anymore, I’m glad to say. The good news is that we’ve reached an agreement with New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tassie, and the Australian Capital Territory. So we’re starting in all of those different parts of Australia. Around 20,000 people will be part of the launch, and we’re calling it the launch of the Disability Insurance Scheme. We’re not talking about a trial or a pilot. This is it. We’re starting to build the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

JON FAINE: Well I guess the big litmus test will be in whether or not you meet those next targets and deadlines.

JENNY MACKLIN: Sure, absolutely.

JON FAINE: Tony Abbott has expressed in-principal support for it but refused to commit to your implementation. Is that the great risk as we head to a federal election next year?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think the public will be looking to the Opposition to make sure that they make a financial commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. As you’ve heard the Treasurer and the Finance Minister say, you can certainly expect to hear more from the Government in next year’s budget. That’s how we make decisions, we make decisions through our budgets. We did make a very big one in this year’s budget, $1 billion to start the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Never been done before. So it is a very exciting time in Australia.

JON FAINE: Not only the National Disability Insurance Scheme, you’ve got the intervention in remote Aboriginal communities to deal with as well, and that would seem to be at a tipping-point as well in your portfolio?

JENNY MACKLIN: In what sense?

JON FAINE: Well, you’ve got resistance, you’ve got different vested groups, you’ve got alcohol plans being revived, in particular now in Queensland, also a bit of agitation for some of that in other parts of remote Australia. Are you going to, in any way, weaken your resolve on the intervention?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well just on the issue of alcohol, I think one of the messages that I can share with you and your listeners that I’ve heard loud and clear from Aboriginal leaders, both in Queensland and the remote parts of the Northern Territory. Of course, in many of those places they’ve had alcohol bans for a long time, and they do not want to see the return of alcohol and the devastation that that means for their families.

JON FAINE: So does the Queensland Government, who say ‘well we’re going to revisit alcohol in some of those communities, maybe it’s their right to drink’?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, I don’t think it’s a right to drink and then drink to the extent that you belt your wife and your children and they end up in hospital. I don’t think that’s a human right, I think those children and those women have a right to live safely in their homes and they’re the rights that I’ll be certainly fighting very hard to protect.

JON FAINE: Thank you for dropping in today.

JENNY MACKLIN: My pleasure.

JON FAINE: We ‘shanghaied’ you off the stage. Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and Disability Reform in the Gillard Federal Government, thank you for coming by.