Speech by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Opening of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Geelong

E & OE

Can I acknowledge the Prime Minister and the Premier; our host the Mayor of Geelong, Darren Lyons; the other regional mayors who are here; my great partners in the NDIS, Andrea Coote and Mary Wooldridge; Sarah Henderson, who has been such an advocate for the headquarters here in Geelong; my Parliamentary colleagues Richard Marles, Andrew Katos, Paula Kontelj, David Koch, Simon Ramsey, Lisa Neville and Ian Trezise.

Can I also make a very special acknowledgement to the newest citizen of Geelong – the Chief Executive of the NDIS Agency David Bowen. David, if you haven’t as yet been grabbed in a headlock and taken to Cardinia Park to sig n up to the Geelong Cats, I can assure you that by the end of today Frank Costa will have done so.

Can I also acknowledge Brucy Bonyhady and Rhonda Galbally who have just been such leaders in this great venture that is the NDIS.

I want to make a very particular mention today of the staff of the NDIS Agency, who have put in such a Herculean effort to get the trial sites up and running, to get the head office up and running. I know for the staff of the Agency that this isn’t just a job. That this will be one of the most significant ventures that you take part in in your professional life. So to you on behalf of all of us, can I offer you a very big thank you.

Friends, today is a great day for Geelong. It’s a great day for jobs. It’s a great day for people who will become participants in the NDIS. Already there are over 2,500 Australians with disability who are getting the better deal that they deserve. And the opening of the headquarters is another milestone on the road for the NDIS.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the NDIS is core government business. The federal Government is absolutely committed to the full rollout of the NDIS. But we’re equally committed to making sure that it has sound foundations. That we learn the lessons from the trial sites. And that the NDIS does stand the test of time.