TRANSCRIPT - ABC The World Today
with Naomi Woodley
4 September 2015
E & OE
National Disability Insurance Scheme Board
The Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was the Minister responsible for
setting up the National Disability Insurance Scheme while Labor was in
government. He says today’s advertisement for new Board members nine months out
from the end of the current Board’s term sends a worrying signal about the
future of the scheme.
This has been a great Board. What they’ve done—this is the leaders of the
National Disability Insurance Scheme—was they’ve made sure, that the new
National Disability Insurance Scheme gets the best start in life. And they’ve
now been repaid for their hard work by a midnight ambush.
Labor’s disability spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin, is just as worried.
Now it takes a lot to make me angry, but I am angry. The idea that the Board of
the National Disability Insurance Scheme would wake up this morning and see an
advertisement for all of their positions on the Board of the National
Disability Insurance Agency advertised, with no warning whatsoever, is a direct
threat to the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
But the Disabilities Minister Mitch Fifield says the Board members were told
about the impending advertisement yesterday, and the process is nothing
unusual. He says it will take longer because State and Territory Governments
also need to approve the new Board members.
The current Board have done a very good job. This is a massive venture. It’s
very complex. And they’ve presided over the trial sites extremely well. We’re
moving to a new phase, with the rollout of the scheme from the current 18,000
people to about 460,000 people in the space of three years. It’s a complex
task, and we want to take the opportunity to make sure that we have a Board
that, in combination, have the best possible set of skills. And current Board
members were advised yesterday that ads would be appearing today. And that they
were welcome, if they wished, to continue to express an interest and to be
considered. But, as I say, there will be a mix of current Board members, to
ensure continuity, and new Board members.
And to that point, will the new Board still have members who have explicit and
longstanding experience in the disability sector on it?
Absolutely. And that is enshrined in the NDIS Act.
But the Opposition is also concerned that the Government has not met the
deadline to conclude negotiations with the States and Territories about the
next stage of the scheme. They were to have been concluded by the end of August.
This was the
week that Mr Abbott was meant to announce the rollout agreements for the
further expansion of the National Disability Insurance Scheme with all the
States and Territories. It was due to be done at the end of August. Mr Abbott has
not concluded any agreements with any States. So we have grave concerns about
the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And therefore, the best
chance in life for people with disabilities because of Mr Abbott and his
Liberal Government’s lack of commitment to it.
The Minister, Mitch Fifield, says that was a target, rather than a legislated
deadline, and he’s working to conclude the agreements as soon as possible.
Negotiations are progressing extremely well. These are complex and detailed
negotiations, which involve, in effect, the transfer of disability services
from eight State and Territory jurisdictions to a new national body. We want to
make sure that we get that right. We want to make sure that we get the details of
how the scheme is rolled out beyond the current trial sites right.
The full National Disability Insurance Scheme is due to be up and running by
2018/19. And Senator Fifield says all negotiations are being carried out with
that deadline in mind.
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