ABC Radio Perth Drive
Subjects: WA NDIS
Christian Porter is the Federal Minister for Social Services. He’s been patiently waiting and listening. Mr Porter, good afternoon to you.
Good afternoon to you as well.
Yeah, what do you make and how do you respond to those concerns from the former Premier Colin Barnett?
Well there’s one thing in there I certainly agree with which was that the previous Labor Government that designed the NDIS did leave a funding gap, no doubt about that, and that funding gap in 2020 is quite close to about $4.5 billion, $5 billion. And so as a responsible government, the Turnbull Government has proposed increasing the Medicare levy by a further 0.5 per cent, which is a very modest impost on people across Australian society, to make sure that we fully fund and provide absolute permanency of clear line of sight funding to the NDIS forever and that’s our policy.
Now, the federal Labor Party are not supporting it with that 25 per cent increase, notwithstanding that they had precisely the same policy when they were in government and we gave them full support. So the future of the NDIS and its permanent clear line of sight funding is very important and part of that is having federal Labor support that 0.5 per cent increase in the levy.
But where I guess I diverge a bit from Colin, is that I think this system can work. I think that the system is centred around what we would describe as choice and control. So the old system that existed in Australia- and as Colin noted some states did it better than other. Victoria and WA are probably the two stand-out states examples how it was done quite well. But the system maintains grant funding in blocks for large, usually, not-for-profit service providers to provide services and generally they provide those services in the geographic region. But what that meant that if you were an Australian or a West Australian with disability in a certain region you basically didn’t have choice as to who was providing service because that choice was made for you by the government of the day by allocating a big block of grant funding out to a service provider.
What the NDIS does is assess every individual for their suitability in terms of access to the NDIS and then for the level of services and care and attention they need. So packages are individualised. That person can either choose to have that passage which is, once it’s designed, maintained by the NDIA itself or they can what we call self-managed which is make their decisions about what services and from whom those services are provided.
So, I think that the fundamental difference is one about choice and control. I’m very confident that the NDIA will administer the NDIS well – and I think in fact there’s probably fewer schemes in Australia’s history that have been more scrutinised than the NDIS. Recently it had a full Productivity Commission review that in effect said: yeah sure, there’s some challenges, but it is largely on track and inside budget.
Minister, I’m just conscious a minute away from news. But just on that point will this scheme save Western Australia money and will it deliver an equal or better scheme here in Western Australia?
Well, I think it will deliver a better scheme for the reasons pertaining to choice and control that I’ve outlined – and I’m responsible for rolling out the transition of the NDIS and it’s a responsibility that’s probably the most important that I have in my portfolio, and as I say the Productivity Commission and others have noted that there are challenges, but it is largely going well.
But in answer to your question: are there financial savings for the Western Australian Government? They’ve made calculations about that and I’ve got no reason to dispute those, but that doesn’t automatically mean that the Federal Government is spending exactly the same amount more the WA Government is saving because we are levering off the fact that we already have the NDIA in place, staff, IT systems, the admin. So those were things that WA necessarily would have had to have duplicated had they decided to go alone and that would have been expensive business for WA. So Malcolm Turnbull..
Minister Porter, I might just cut you off there. We are just heading to news headlines at half five