Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Remote Hearing and Vision Services for Children Initiative, Tony Abbott, National Disability Insurance Scheme

MACKLIN: It is so great to be in Townsville today with my friend and colleague, Senator Jan McLucas. And we are here in Townsville to make a national announcement of $4.9 million that will be used to make sure that through the National Broadband Network, children and young people with hearing and sight impairments will get much faster and better access to specialist services, especially if they’re living in rural and remote parts of Australia.

JOURNALIST: Essentially how will that work?

MACKLIN: It will work by getting on your computer, either at home or in a community facility, and getting online to someone like a physiotherapist. It might be a speech therapist who may be located here in Townsville, they could be located in Brisbane. And through the National Broadband Network, getting very good advice from that speech pathologist for example, about exercises that you can do to improve your learning.

JOURNALIST:Minister, where exactly is the money going to be spent? (inaudible)

MACKLIN: The money will be spent on either upgrading equipment for either the specialists, or for the parent and carer, or for the child concerned. It will also be spent on paying for the specialist’s advice.

JOURNALIST: Now $4.9 million, is that enough? (inaudible)

MACKLIN: We expect more than 100 children will benefit from this addition to the service. So of course this is the first time that we’ve done this. We are progressively rolling out the National Broadband Network, but we are very pleased to be able to add this additional $4.9 million to make sure those children can get better access to those specialist services than they certainly can now.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

MACKLIN: Well of course here in Townsville, the NBN is here now – it’s here in this library. It’s progressively being rolled out right around Australia. Yes, that will take time, but this money will be rolled out over the next couple of years. We’ll make sure that we extend this improved service to people as quickly as possible.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)is that all around regional Australia?

MACKLIN: It’s a national figure, but of course it’s where we’ve got the National Broadband Network already operating.

I just want to make some other remarks following on from Mr Abbott’s comments yesterday. I do want to take issue with Mr Abbott. Of course the Government has indicated that from May and June this year we will be delivering increases to pensions, increases to family payments, and in July we will be delivering a tax cut.

What Mr Abbott has demonstrated yesterday is that he will take that money away from pensioners, he will tax that money away from families and he will stop the tax cut. That is what Mr Abbott is saying, as a result of the comments yesterday, he will take the money out of the pockets of pensioners, out of the pockets of families, and he will reverse the tax cut that the Labor Government will deliver in July this year.

He has also indicated that he is not committed to a National Disability Insurance Scheme. This government has already made a commitment to make sure that we do everything required to build a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Mr Abbott has now demonstrated that he is not committed. He has just put it on the backburner which is going to devastate the hopes and dreams of people with a disability and their carers and families.