Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Disability Agreement Ready To Be Signed

State and Territory Disability Ministers appear to be deliberately holding up settling a third Commonwealth State and Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA).

In doing so, the State and Territory Ministers are holding up increased Commonwealth funding that could already be flowing to disability service providers.

The CSTDA has always left the Commonwealth with 100% responsibility for employment services and paying nationally (although it varies from State to State) a 20% share of accommodation and day services.

State and Territory Ministers indicated on 18 October that they are “promising to allocate more than $1.2 billion over five years to 2006/07”. If $1.2 billion represents their 80% share of accommodation and day services, then the Commonwealth is required to put in $300 million over five years. The Commonwealth’s commitment is relatively higher than the states and territories, so they should be prepared now to sign up to a third Agreement.

Let me make it abundantly clear that the state and territory’s percentage increase in the Communique is not quite as high as the Commonwealth’s percentage increase for accommodation services and nowhere near as high as the percentage increase in the Commonwealth’s total contribution to the CSTDA.

The Commonwealth’s base increase of $125 million, coupled with indexation using the current Wage Cost Index 2, and supplementation for the superannuation guarantee charge comes to $320 million over five years

I am amazed that State and Territory Ministers have had this offer since June, and then in October, they announce an offer that does not quite match the Commonwealth increase and still they will not sign up to an Agreement.

I have recently written to them asking for their individual funding commitments over five years.

Presumably, the State and Territory Ministers have spending authority from their Cabinets in order to tell the public through the Communique that they were prepared to spend this money. Therefore, it should be easy for them to detail their commitments so that we can complete the Agreement.

Given that all Ministers have agreed to greater accountability and transparency for this Agreement, it is quite proper that they provide the same funding details as the Commonwealth, year-by-year for the full five years.

The failure of the State and Territory Disability Ministers to reply to my request means that I am now concerned that they have no funding commitments from their government.