Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Disability Insurance Scheme – Interview with Ross and John, 3AW Breakfast

Program: 3AW Breakfast

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ROSS STEVENSON: Minister, good morning to you.

JENNY MACKLIN: Great to be with you.

ROSS STEVENSON: New Zealand has had for 40 years a disability insurance scheme. Is this going to be similar?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well that’s one way of looking at it, but of course we want to build our own Australian approach and it really is all about making sure that people with disability, know matter how they have got that disability, will be able to get the care and support that they need.

ROSS STEVENSON: Right, no matter how they’ve got it. So at the moment…

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s right.

ROSS STEVENSON: … at the moment if you’ve, for want of a better expression, if you’re fortunate enough to get injured in a car accident or at work, you are covered, but if you’re a young man who dives into a creek unwisely…


ROSS STEVENSON: …you are not covered but you will be under this National Disability Insurance Scheme.

JENNY MACKLIN: That’s exactly the point, or if you are born with a disability and your parents of course need support, and as you grow up you need access to equipment or maybe your parents need some time off, as your parents get older of course they’re going to want to make sure that you’ve got proper supported accommodation that they’re going to feel confident with.. These are all the different things that people need.

JOHN BURNS: This is for people that are now in a vacuum. That is, they’re disabled but they’ve got absolutely nowhere to go.

JENNY MACKLIN: Or, the way they talk about is, it’s like a lottery. In some areas, in some, for some sorts of services you might do alright, but there’s nothing consistent about it.

JOHN BURNS: How do we pay for it?

JENNY MACKLIN: That is, of course, always the big question. We’ve got a lot of work to do to both make sure we pay for it in an efficient way but also that we get the things ready that are needed. So we need assessment tools, we need quality standards, we need a much bigger workforce. We don’t have anything like the number of people…

ROSS STEVENSON: Tell us the nuts and bolts. An insurance scheme makes you think you’ve got to pay a premium. Is there a premium, aka a levy, or is it just out of your general revenue.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well there the decisions we have to make yet. We’re going to sit down with the states and territories and work through those issues. We certainly know that more needs to be done. It will cost more. As to how, we’ve got a lot of that work to do.

ROSS STEVENSON: Righto, ongoing questions. I think everyone would think it would be a fantastic if idea if people with significant disabilities were covered and the cruel lottery of life was softened. What you would not want is compensation schemes, where someone with a sprained eyelash complains that they are unable to work at all. Is there going to be a high bar in qualifying for the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

JENNY MACKLIN: This is all about serious disabilities and that’s why you do need a proper assessment approach so that it is aimed at helping those who are in the greatest need. That’s exactly right.

ROSS STEVENSON: Okay, so if you’re only in this building block stage now for the National Disability Insurance Scheme which everyone seems to think is a good idea, what’s the year? Can you put a year on when it’s likely to be introduced?

JENNY MACKLIN: The Productivity Commission recommends that we should be able to start in some places, trying it out, by 2014. But they take the view, the Productivity Commission takes the view, that it will take until 2017 because of all the reasons I’ve just gone through. Fundamentally, we just don’t have the workforce that could cope with the massive expansion that’s needed. So we need to start building that as one critical part.

ROSS STEVENSON: Minister we thank you very much for your time.