Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme – Interviewer: Paul Bevan, Program: ABC Newcastle Drive

Program: ABC Newcastle Drive

E & OE – Proof only

PAUL BEVAN: Jenny Macklin, thanks for joining us this afternoon.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you, Paul.

PAUL BEVAN: Did the agreement for the NDIS remain basically the same as we in the public sphere would’ve known it before your negotiations today or did they change?

JENNY MACKLIN: They’re pretty much as we expected it really just took a little bit of time to go through the details.

Most importantly for the people in the Hunter who have a significant or a profound disability, this is a very significant day and also for their families I think they’ve been waiting, hoping that we would come to an agreement and that’s exactly what we’ve done with New South Wales Government.

PAUL BEVAN: Since the negotiations… well since the COAG meeting last week and then the heart-in-the-mouth couple of days where it seemed as if it wasn’t going to happen, I’ve been speaking to people on both sides of politics and people locally here about how it might be implemented and what the trial might mean for us here in the Hunter – or the launch site – everyone is quite excited about it.

However, as you’re aware the next stage is how it’s going to be funded when it’s fully implemented and nobody seems to have any hint of how that’s going to work.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course the next stage is actually getting the launch site underway so today we’ve announced that we’ve come to an agreement but over the next 12 months we’re going to be doing a lot of detailed work with the New South Wales Government and the people on the ground. Of course we’re going to need an additional workforce.

There’s a lot of extra work to do with the disability service providers- and so the list of jobs goes on. You’re right, we do have to get to the question of the funding of the full scheme and of course we’ve already done some work on that. That will continue but I can tell you my focus right now is to get this up and running in the hunter.

PAUL BEVAN: Even the launch site itself will not be funded to the extent that the fully operating scheme will be funded am I right?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well that’s largely because we’re not doing all of the national infrastructure up front. We decided that we wanted to get these launch sites on the ground so that we could test all the things we need to do with people with disability and their families.

PAUL BEVAN: Will the launch sites be funded within the scope of the launch site to the full extent that will be the ongoing NDIS once it’s up and running?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well certainly for individuals it will be, so the average expected cost in the Productivity Commission report is around 35,000 and that’s exactly what they’ll be funded according to the agreement we’ve just reached with New South Wales.

New South Wales will meet the cost of just over 20,700 and the Commonwealth will make up the difference. The Commonwealth will meet the cost of local area coordinators and then on top of that of course there are national costs and that will be of course able to help make it all happen in the hunter as well.

PAUL BEVAN: Okay so the reason it won’t be costing the full amount is because you won’t need as much administration. Each individual person with disability will be fully funded.

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.

PAUL BEVAN: So then we come back to what the Opposition… one of the Opposition’s criticisms of these launch sites in the first place is that it’s cruel to do this with people with disabilities if you have no idea of how you’re actually going to fund the full scheme.

So we do to some extent have to discuss that even now because there’s no point having a launch site and then the Government going, ‘that was all a lot of fun but now we can’t fund it’.

JENNY MACKLIN: And of course that’s not our objective. Our objective is to deliver a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

PAUL BEVAN: But you’ve got to have some idea of where the money’s going to come from or it is the cruel thing.

JENNY MACKLIN: And we know exactly where the billion dollars is coming from…

PAUL BEVAN: …just for the launch site, but the ongoing funding?

JENNY MACKLIN: Sure and as I said to you earlier we will continue to do the detailed work and negotiate with the states and territories over that but we, in our Federal Budget, found $1 billion for the National Disability Insurance Scheme launch sites and of course we’ve delivered other major reforms; the very significant improvements to the pension were delivered on budget, on time.

PAUL BEVAN: But you’ve still got to find $8 billion dollars a year more for the NDIS.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well we think that of course the responsibility for this though should be shared with the states and territories and we’ll be working through exactly that with those jurisdictions.

PAUL BEVAN: States’ and territories’ income from the GST is drying up as we speak.

JENNY MACKLIN: We think that this is a shared responsibility and the states and territories have certainly agreed that it is a shared responsibility so yes we’ve got more work to do but I think today’s a day of celebration especially for people in the Hunter.

PAUL BEVAN: Indeed it is but at some stage there’s going to have to be more tax, isn’t there? At somebody’s level – state or federal – there’s got to be more tax to pay for it.

JENNY MACKLIN: What we’ve demonstrated I think over the last four years is that you can deliver major social reforms and fund it from the Budget if you’re prepared to take other hard decisions and that’s exactly what we have done.

We’ve not only delivered improvements to the pension, we’ve brought the Budget back to surplus so we intend to deliver a National Disability Insurance Scheme and do it in a responsible way.

PAUL BEVAN: Jenny Macklin, very interesting to talk to you and as you say, yes today is a day of celebration.