National Disability Insurance Scheme
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MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, what is your response to Tony Abbott’s approach? Do you welcome his bipartisan approach, or are you treating it with some suspicion?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’m firstly pleased that we’ve got cross-party support for one of the biggest reforms to our social safety net that we’ve seen since the introduction of Medicare. Of course the Council of Australian Governments has established a select group of Treasurers and Disability Ministers to manage the establishment of the new National Disability Insurance Scheme. We’re certainly getting on with that job. The most important thing Mr Abbott could do right now is convince his state colleagues that they need to come to the party and make sure that they meet their share of the costs of the new National Disability Insurance Scheme.
MARIUS BENSON: And what about his specific proposal that the Opposition and the Government sit down together? That your shadow Mitch Fifield and you sit down together in a joint committee to draw up this scheme?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well of course we’ve already had the Productivity Commission do a major enquiry and give us the outline of how this scheme should work. The Council of Australian Governments has established a Select Council, as I’ve just mentioned of Liberal and Labor Disability Ministers and Treasurers, and that’s really the appropriate committee. What we need is for liberal governments around the country, Mr Abbott’s colleagues in the states making sure they’re doing the right thing and put in their fair share of the cost of the National Insurance Disability Scheme.
MARIUS BENSON: So does this make much difference what Tony Abbott is saying today? You’re saying that what he really needs to do is to bring the states onside but what about the national cooperation he is offering?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I would certainly hope that when the legislation comes into the national parliament that Mr Abbott will support it, that he will do everything he possibly can to make sure that people with disability don’t have to wait any longer. People with disability and their families and carers have put up with a terrible level of service for far too long. We’re determined to get on with building the National Disability Insurance Scheme and I certainly hope we’ll get support, not just from Mr Abbott but more importantly from all Liberal premiers around the country.
MARIUS BENSON: And can I just clarify your view on Tony Abbott’s specific proposal that a Parliamentary Committee co-chaired by both sides should work on this. Is that acceptable to the Government?
JENNY MACKLIN: As I’ve indicated the Council of Australian Governments have already established a select council that has Treasurers and Disability Ministers from all the States and Territories as well as the Commonwealth. They are the people responsible for bringing about this transformational change, building the National Disability Insurance Scheme and I look forward to Mr Abbott working with all of us to make sure that that happens.
MARIUS BENSON: So does this put this legislation in a different league to other disputed legislation, that it is somehow immune now from adversarial politics and it is guaranteed to go ahead?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I certainly hope that we do get the support of the Opposition, not only in the Federal Parliament but also of course we’ll get Liberal Premiers around the country meeting their fair share of the costs. That’s why we’ll see whether or not people are prepared to put the extra money in that is going to be needed to meet the needs of people with a disability and their carers and families.
MARIUS BENSON: And is it now in a different category, is it some sort of national project or is it still subject to all those party division that see all legislation debated through Parliament?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I would hope that the vast majority of people in the Federal Parliament and in the State Parliaments do recognise that it is time we built a National Disability Insurance Scheme. People with a disability, their families, their carers, have put up with terrible levels of service for far too long, so let’s get on with it. It’s what we want to do in the Federal Government and we’re very pleased to have support from across the country.
MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, thank you very much.
JENNY MACKLIN: Thank you.