Mix 104.9 with Pete Davies - 13 August 2013 > Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria

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13-August-2013

Mix 104.9 with Pete Davies - 13 August 2013

Mix 104.9 with Pete Davies - 13 August 2013

360 with Pete Davies. Mix 104.9

Pete Davies, Senator Mitch Fifield and Natasha Griggs MP
Darwin

                                                                                             

13 August 2013

11:00am

E & OE

Subjects: NDIS

PETE DAVIES:

And coming up to 12 past 11, time to say good morning to Senator Mitch Fifield, who is the Senator for Victoria and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate and also the Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector. Mitch good morning.

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

Good morning Pete, great to be here.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

Welcome to 360. Natasha Griggs.

NATASHA GRIGGS:

Good morning Pete.

 

PETE DAVIES:

Are you still banned at the ABC or what?

 

NATASHA GRIGGS:

I’m not banned at the ABC.

 

PETE DAVIES:

Anyway, you’re always welcome here.

 

NATASHA GRIGGS:

Thanks Pete.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

Mitch, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, there has been largely a bipartisan approach from day 1. Where are we at with it?

MITCH FIFIELD:

Well, the good news is that launch sites have commenced on the first of July in Geelong, the Hunter Valley, South Australia and Tasmania. So we’ve already got people who are benefiting from the scheme. There is already an end to some of the waiting lists for supported accommodation and aids and equipment in those areas. It’s important that we have launch sites so that lessons can be learnt before the full national rollout. But it’s great that the Northern Territory will have a launch site in the Barkly region commencing on the first of July next year. And the full NDIS, fingers crossed, will be up and running nation-wide by 2019.  

PETE DAVIES:

 

Just for people who are not familiar with the process of the rollout of the NDIS. Define a launch site?

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

Sure, a launch site is a geographically defined area where the NDIS will be in full operation before the scheme is rolled out nationally. So for people in Geelong and the Hunter Valley, in that area if you have a disability your need will be assessed and you will get what you need. Previously, and the experience of many Australians, is that they find themselves on waiting lists for supported accommodation, for respite, for aids and equipment. In those areas there won’t be those waiting lists anymore, people will get an entitlement and be able to take it to the service provider of their choice. But with a change of this magnitude there will be things that go wrong, there will be things that hadn’t been considered and so it’s important to learn those lessons from these launch sites, before the scheme is rolled out nationally.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

So, the launch sites are very much a testing process to iron out the ripples?

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

That’s right. This scheme when it’s fully rolled out will cover 460,000 Australians. At full rollout it’s going to be a $22 billion scheme. So it’s a massive venture. It’s up there with Medicare in terms of its scope and its complexity. But, because each individual in the scheme will be individually assessed to determine what their needs are, and what they receive through the scheme, it’s even more complex than Medicare and it’s important to take the time to get the design right.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

Natasha what does it mean for Territorians?

 

NATASHA GRIGGS:

Well it means, well Mitch and I have spoken about this a number of occasions and we always know how difficult it is to deliver services in remote areas. So that’s why the Barkly area was selected. Now we would’ve loved to have one here in Darwin, but I think that it makes sense to have it in a remote location because as Mitch said, it’s like a pilot program where we can tease out some of the issues and we, as Territorians know how difficult it is to have services delivered remotely. So it will show those areas where there are weaknesses and I guess we’ll be able to fix those up so that when we launch or when it gets implemented here in Darwin and Palmerston those issues will be smoothed out. And because we are a smaller population it will be easier to identify some of the major issues than it would be in some of the larger areas. We punch well above our weight here Pete, as you know. So I think it’s a good thing for Territorians, I’ve spoken to a number of Territorians who are pleased that there is bipartisan support for this program. And when it looked like there was a bit of politics being played earlier on and we just wanted to make sure that all Territorians and in fact all Australians know there is bipartisan support for this very very important initiative. The main concern though is the funding, and we wanted to make sure that there is funding for that, is that right Mitch?

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

That’s right and I think it’s very pleasing that in this past parliament which has been anything but a sight to behold, that there is one good thing that’s come out of it and that’s the NDIS. Both sides have committed to elevate it beyond the partisan fray. And it doesn’t matter who wins the next election, the NDIS will be funded. I think woe betide any Government that didn’t follow through on the NDIS. We certainly will and I guess an important question to ask is who do you think is best placed to deliver a reform of this complexity. That’s a question for your listeners to answer as we approach the election.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

I guess my only criticism of the whole process from day one is an adequate explanation of what the NDIS is really all about. I mean we know it’s going to be looking after people with a disability. That is the simplistic answer, but the overall structure of the NDIS, what is the definition of a disability?

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

Sure, and look that’s a frustration of many people and it’s an area where I have suggested, let me put it that way, to the Government for the best part of 18 months, that they should’ve released a thousand fact sheets covering every aspect of the scheme, that they should’ve released dozens of cameos and worked examples for people with physical impairment, intellectual impairment, sensory impairment. That this is “Bob”, this is his situation now, this is how things will look for him under the NDIS. Instead we’ve had $22 million spent in a four week period on TV ads which don’t convey any eligibility information at all. So I can understand the frustration that people have that there has really been no serious effort to convey. And people need to know simple facts such as there are 4 million Australians with some form of disability. The NDIS will cater for 460,000 Australians with the most significant impairments. And those who will be eligible are people with a significant disability that’s permanent that affects their capacity to undertake daily living tasks. So that is a group of people who, as I’ve said before, are at the moment taking a number, taking their place in the queue, and if the pot of money for their supports runs out before their number is called well it’s too bad, and it’s not good enough.

                                                                                               

PETE DAVIES:

 

When you look at some $30 million dollars spent on advertising to keep people off our shores. Still trying to work that one out is how many people are actually coming back to Australia by boat anyway. We spend $30 million on that but can’t find the money to adequately educate people about the NDIS?

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

Yes, clearly there is money there because they can find $22 million for glossy TV ads which contain a slogan and a reference to a website. I think Australians with disability are entitled to better than that. I think it’s also relevant to point out that to fully deliver a National Disability Insurance Scheme you need a good economic policy. You can’t have a good social policy unless you’ve got a good economic policy and who is best placed to ensure that we have that, so that the NDIS can be delivered in full. I suggest that it’s our side of politics, we’ve got the track record of living within our means, balancing budgets and when you do that you can sustain into the long term important things like the NDIS which, after all, should be part of the core business of government.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

The Treasury has just, in the last hour announced that the budget deficit will be $24 billion dollars. In terms of service delivery how does that affect us?

                                                                                                                             

MITCH FIFIELD:

Well, you’ve got to cut your cloth according to the budget circumstances. But I want to be absolutely crystal clear when it comes to the NDIS that, in our view, you can work towards both a budget surplus and rolling out the NDIS at the same time. A budget surplus isn’t the enemy on an NDIS and the NDIS isn’t the enemy of a budget surplus. Tony Abbott is personally committed and he restated it in his budget reply that all of the announced expenditure on the NDIS will be delivered by a Coalition Government. But we’ve got tough decisions to make in other areas.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

Mitch, great to have you.

 

MITCH FIFIELD:

 

Thanks very much Pete, good to be here.

 

PETE DAVIES:

 

Tash, no doubt I will see you again.

 

NATASHA GRIGGS:

Yes, well I look forward to it Pete. We’ve got plenty of issues to discuss.

 

 

ENDS