September 17, 2015

SUBJECT/S: NDIS rollout in Victoria and New South Wales, Malcolm Turnbull’s unfair cuts to young jobseekers

DAVID SPEERS: With me now is Jenny Macklin, the Shadow Minister for Families, but of course prior to that the Minister for Disability Reform, thanks very much for joining us.




SPEERS: You did have stewardship of this and deserve credit in part for this outcome today. What does it mean for you personally to see this signed off in these two big states?


MACKLIN: Well, really for people with disability, this is such a significant day and I'm incredibly happy about it. I do want to say a really big thank you to everybody who has made today come to pass because it has been an enormous amount of work. People with disability have been campaigning for this for years and to know that now it will be rolled out in full in NSW and Victoria is just very, very special.


SPEERS: Because I know that only two or three weeks ago you were worried about some of the language from Mitch Fifield, the Minister, and the failure to sign up to these two states. Now it is there inked in black and white, the deals are inked. Have all your concerns gone away?


MACKLIN:Well, certainly in those two states they do. I can see that both those states are absolutely committed, that the Commonwealth is committed to making sure it will work in NSW and Victoria and, as you say, they're the two big states.


SPEERS: Who is still left?


MACKLIN: We’ve still got Queensland, the Northern Territory. Western Australia are taking a slightly different path.  South Australia, Tassie. The ACT is already rolling out in full.


SPEERS: That was really one of the pilots?


MACKLIN: No they signed up to run it out right across the ACT right way, for around 5,000 people, which was great. Of course the test now is that it is done elsewhere.


SPEERS: This will help surely won’t it?


MACKLIN: I think it will, I do think it will. The other states will be able to look at the details of these agreements and say it’s been done in NSW and Victoria, we can do it in Queensland for example. Queensland are ready to go with their first launch. Let’s hope that we’ll see that happen in Queensland soon.


SPEERS: Now what about the money? Before we get to where exactly it’s coming from, the full cost is estimated at $22 billion and that’s by some government actuaries. But how certain are you that it will be $22 billion and not more, because as I understand in South Australia where the pilot was – the question about where on the autism spectrum it kicks in and covers someone – that could lead to an increased cost?


MACKLIN: Well, the good news is that the National Disability Insurance Scheme actuary herself has come out and said that the scheme is on track and the most recent quarterly report just released by the Minister just a little while ago, showed that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is on budget. It's on time. People are coming in as per the agreements that were reached back when we were in government. And so, of course, I'm really pleased that it's both delivering to people with disability and their families and changing lives, but I am also very pleased that it is on budget and that is very important for the is security of the scheme.


SPEERS:Well, if it’s going to cost $22 billion, let’s look at where that is going to come from. Now, I'm just trying to find exactly the notes on this amount because the states will cover the amount that they currently spend on services.


MACKLIN: That’s right.


SPEERS: So I think that comes in at $10 billion from the states of the $22 billion, $3 billion comes in top of that from the Commonwealth anyway in disability services. So that leaves $9 billion to cover. A lot of that - 40 percent - is covered by the increase to the Medicare Levy that Labor introduced, so that’s about $5 billion that has to come from the Budget, the Commonwealth Budget.


MACKLIN: Correct, it’s already in the Commonwealth Budget.


SPEERS: But where from? We don’t know that yet do we?


MACKLIN: When we were in government we made clear where we would make savings to cover the cost of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


SPEERS: What were some of those?


MACKLIN: For example, the means testing of the private health insurance rebate, which we put in place. There were a range of other savings that were in the Budget papers back in 2013 that show it was fully funded and this Government, this Minister, says the money is in the Budget.


SPEERS: They’ve committed to it now.


MACKLIN: They’ve committed to it, they’ve signed agreements with NSW and Victoria out to 2019. As the Minister said today have a look at the Budget papers, it’s in the forward estimates. The Government’s made its own decisions about what its priorities are. I think this question is actually misplaced, partly because the Government and we were, in part through the Medicare Levy increase. The rest was always going to come partly from the states, partly from the Commonwealth Budget, we showed how we were going to do that and now this Government is making its own decisions about its priorities – which is as it should be.


SPEERS: And they’re the same as yours.


MACKLIN: Well, they’re not necessarily the same, they’ve made their own.


SPEERS: No, the commitment’s the same.


MACKLIN: That’s right.


SPEERS: It’s still a new scheme, a new program that has to be paid for by taxpayers, it’s important to look at where that money comes from?


MACKLIN: It is. I think the other point that’s very important that the Productivity Commission emphasised was that if we’d kept going the way we have been, with a very broken and fragmented system of disability care and support, that actually would have cost more than $22 billion, so that’s the thing to remember. I think that everybody thinks this is all new, it’s not all new. That rate of the cost increases was growing very fast, people with disability are living longer, the costs associated with their care and support are growing and we were going to have to fund it somehow. Now we’ve got a proper insurance scheme that’s really going to look across the person’s whole life and that’s what’s so exciting.


SPEERS: So over time, the theory is there.


MACKLIN: Correct.


SPEERS: It will save money.


MACKLIN: And the Productivity Commission point was that this insurance principle will invest early in a child’s life, little Molly who was with us today, she’s only a little girl now, she’s already part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme here in the ACT, she’s getting early intervention as part of the Scheme, making sure that she’ll get the best out of her life. One of the other mothers who was there today, her son couldn’t come today because her son is working. He’s got Down Syndrome but he’s working. He’s got all these supports now as a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. As she said to Bill Shorten and I today – her son’s life’s been changed but so has his mother’s and I think that’s a wonderful thing. 


SPEERS: Before I let you go, on another matter, Scott Morrison today reintroduced the Bill denying those under the age of 25 access to the dole for four weeks when they leave school or lose their job, Labor’s not going to budge on this?


MACKLIN: No we are not. This is really cruel. I would have hoped that Scott Morrison would have learnt his lesson when it was roundly defeated in the Senate just a couple of weeks ago.


SPEERS: Why is four weeks so cruel without the dole?


MACKLIN: Because you have to pay the rent, you have to feed yourself, and how are you going to do that if you’ve got no money for a whole month, a whole month. These young people have no other means of supporting themselves and they are somehow supposed to live on nothing, absolutely nothing for a month. It is cruel and it’s time the Government ruled a line under this. Remember in the Budget in 2014 they wanted people to live on nothing for six months, well you can just as soon starve in a month.


SPEERS: We’re going to have to talk about this more at a later point. No doubt the vote will be coming up soon. We’ve got to move on, Jenny Macklin thank you very much for your time.


MACKLIN: Thank you.


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