Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

COAG Disability Reform Council – 16 February 2015

As Chair of the COAG Disability Reform Council (comprising Commonwealth, State and Territory disability ministers), I do not usually detail the informal, ministers-only discussions that occur after Council meetings.

However, I do so on this occasion given the distortion and gross misrepresentation of those discussions conveyed to the Australian Financial Review by an anonymous individual.

The article today has reported claims that the Commonwealth wants a “winding down” of the NDIS. This is not true. This has never been discussed, considered or contemplated.

The Coalition is completely committed to the full rollout of the NDIS.

The article today has also reported claims that the Commonwealth wishes to replace NDIS board members due to the nature of their advice. Again, this is not true.

What ministers did discuss was the desirability of not having all board positions expiring at the same time as currently scheduled for 30 June 2016.

All ministers agreed that staggered terms represent best practice corporate governance.

Neither I as Federal Minister nor Disability Reform Council ministers have the capacity to replace board members ahead of their term expiry.

Ministers discussed that any early turnover of board positions and consequent term staggering could only occur where a board member chose to conclude their service.

All ministers agreed that everything should always be done to ensure the NDIS and its governance arrangements are the best that they can be.

It is extremely disappointing that ministerial discussions have been thoroughly misrepresented.

Those who needlessly cause concern to Australians with disability by misrepresenting the Commonwealth’s commitment to the NDIS should find another portfolio area to work in.

A venture as important as the NDIS should be above politics as usual.

The Commonwealth’s focus over coming months is to conclude bilateral negotiations with the States and Territories for the full national rollout of the NDIS.