Doorstop interview, NDIS
Thanks everyone for being here this morning. I just wanted to make a few comments about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
We have – over the next five weeks – four sitting weeks of parliament, and they will probably be the most critical four parliamentary weeks in the life of the NDIS.
We have here an opportunity in this Parliament to, once and for all, end any uncertainty about the funding of the NDIS, if we can secure passage of the 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare levy.
The reason why that is the fairest way to fill Labor Party’s funding gap is the same reason the Labor Party chose that to be the fairest way to help fund the NDIS – and that is that the NDIS is an insurance scheme for every single Australian and every single Australian family.
The best estimates that we have are that in 2020, when the NDIS is fully operational, that there will be about 22,000 people a year come to join the NDIS and benefit from its services. About 14,000 of those will be Australians who have been born with a disability, and about 8,000 will be people who at some point during their life acquire a disability. Now, none of those Australians who will benefit from the NDIS will find that the afflictions that they suffer discriminate according to their income in any way. This is a scheme for all Australians.
The 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare levy is structured in a way that means that those with more contribute much more, and those with less contribute much less, but everyone contributes to a scheme that all Australians can benefit from.
So the Medicare levy 0.5 per cent increase that we’re proposing, and that will be critical to securing the future of the NDIS over the next four weeks, sees that 6.7 per cent of the highest income earners – those about $180,000 – will contribute 27 per cent of the new monies required to fund the NDIS. The bottom ten per cent pay only one per cent of those monies, and the bottom 25 per cent pay only 8.1 per cent.
If you have more, you pay more to help fund the NDIS. If you have less you pay much less.
Now what we’ve found out today, perhaps not unsurprisingly, is that three quarters of the Labor shadow cabinet agree with the Coalition, firstly that there is a gap and secondly that the fairest way to fill that funding gap is to have a 0.5 per cent, across the board, increase in the Medicare levy, so that all Australians contribute to an insurance scheme that benefits all Australians.
So we’ve got the next critical four weeks, those four weeks can secure once and for all the certainly and future of the NDIS.
Unfortunately Bill Shorten has been personally in denial about the fact that there is a funding gap of $4 billion that opens up in 2020, and now he is in denial about the views of his own party as to what is the best way to fill that funding gap that he left for the NDIS.
It’s perhaps not an unsurprising thing that three quarters of the Labor Party agree with us because this is precisely the mechanism that they said was the fairest way to fund the NDIS.
Minister, do you think it’s a good idea to set up a lottery for the Olympics?
Look, I must say that that’s not a thing that we’ve been briefed on or have a Cabinet decision on. That’s something that, no doubt, is an idea that will get considered in due course.
On this NDIS, if Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader can’t be convinced to drop the $87,000 cap plan, is there any room for negotiation?
Well, what we want to do is choose the absolute fairest way to fund the NDIS. If you have a 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare levy – which is the precise mechanism that Bill Shorten chose when he was in government – what that means is the top 6.7 per cent of tax payers pay 27 per cent of this funding gap that Labor left, the bottom ten per cent pay only one per cent. Now that seems to be a very, very fair way in which to go about paying for the NDIS.
There is no fairer way than that. And the reason that that is fair is because every single Australian can benefit from the NDIS. So it’s very important that everyone contributes strictly according to their means.
So what we say is – there’s a clear and fair way. The Coalition absolutely, unanimously agrees that that’s the clear and fair way to support and fund the NDIS. It’s now revealed that three quarters of the shadow Labor cabinet also agree, so why would we look at another way when you have three quarters of the Parliament already agreeing to what is clearly the fairest way to secure the funding of the NDIS.
You’re a Western Australian – Twiggy Forrest, another proud Western Australian is going to make an historic donation to various charities today – should other millionaires and billionaires dig deep as well?
I’m fortunate to sit as deputy chair on the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, which is engaged in trying to lift rates of philanthropy, and there are a range of ways structurally you can try and do that.
I must say, the best possible way that we can try and lift rates of philanthropy in Australia, to those that we see in a country like America, is through individual example, so I heard what was the quite mean spirited response from Adam Bandt prior to this question – what an amazing thing that Andrew Forrest is doing – giving away an immense proportion of the wealth that he has worked very hard to amass for a range of philanthropic institutions, particularly cancer research. There is no better way to increase philanthropy across the board than to lead by example, and that’s what Andrew Forrest is doing today. A day, I think, that we should all be proud that we live in a country where people can generate personal wealth, and the best of those people choose to give up massive amounts of that personal wealth for the betterment of all Australians.
The Government’s bank levy measure has pretty wide spread support so far, but there is a push to extend it to foreign banks from some – being Nick Xenophon – is that something the Government [INAUDIBLE]?
Our policy is very clear, and we’ll obviously be negotiating with the crossbench and the Senate to pass that policy. But as I understand it, they agree with the policy. That some might want to go further is not something that we’re countenancing, our policy is very clear – there’s agreement.
But getting back to the NDIS, if Labor, Nick Xenophon agree with us on the bank levy – and it’s quite clear now that three quarters of Labor agree with us on the NDIS levy – why can’t we just get this job done? Why cannot we just agree, for all Australians, the best way forward is to fully fund the Labor gap in the NDIS – just get this thing done in the next couple of weeks.