Questions Without Notice - National Disability Insurance Scheme



Senator Seselja: 
(Australian Capital Territory) (14:58): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Fifield. Will the minister update the Senate on the latest milestone achieved by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (14:58): I thank Senator Seselja for his question, as always. I know that you and all colleagues will be very pleased to know that last week an important milestone was passed with the inclusion of the 10,000th participant in the NDIS. I was in the area of Geelong in the Barwon trial site with Sarah Henderson, the member for Corangamite, NDIS staff and NDIS participants when we marked this important occasion. On an occasion such as that, I did acknowledge the cross-party support there is for the NDIS, as I think is appropriate.

 

We heard some great stories about the experiences of NDIS participants. There was a board, as you walked into the Barwon trial site office, that had cut-out figures, and on those cut-out figures were written down some of the experiences of participants. One of them was of a 57-year-old woman who was able to move out of home for the first time and live alone so that her mother could be more of a mother and less of a care-giver and a supporter; a 7-year-old child who was able to tie his shoelaces; and a pair of twins who, because of the supports that they had received, were now able to ride bikes together. These are the sorts of changes, the sorts of positive improvements, in the quality of life that we are seeing as a result of the NDIS. As impressive as the facilities of the NDIS are, the great work of the staff and what we do collectively as a parliament, none of it has meaning; it only has meaning insofar as it improves the quality of life of individual Australians. 

Senator Seselja:  (Australian Capital Territory) (15:00): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate how the Commonwealth intends to progress the National Disability Insurance Scheme during this year. 

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:00): As colleagues will know, there are currently seven NDIS trial sites around the nation and, as I said before, 10,000 participants. By full scheme, there will be 460,000 participants. The next stage is to negotiate the bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and each jurisdiction for how rollout will progress beyond the trial sites, throughout each individual state and territory. Those negotiations have started. They will be concluded by the middle of this year. It is fair to say that, although the end goal will be the same in each jurisdiction, how each state and territory reaches that point may differ. Each jurisdiction will have its own ideas and does have its own ideas as to the best way to phase rollout in those jurisdictions. It will be an important six months as we plan and prepare for the full nationwide NDIS. 

Senator Seselja:  (Australian Capital Territory) (15:01): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the minister inform the Senate why budget repair is so important for the NDIS. 

 

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:02): I have said it before in this place and I think it bears repeating that good economic policy and good social policy are not alternatives. They are not in competition; they are in fact two sides of the one coin. You cannot fund and sustain a good social policy unless you have a good economic policy, and at the heart of a good economic policy is having a good budget policy. All my colleagues on this side, in their respective areas, are making a contribution to good budget policy. That is important because the NDIS needs to be—we all agree—something that stands the test of time, something that is sustainable. While we make difficult decisions in some other portfolio areas, one of the reasons we do so is to make sure that we will have the financial resources to fund the NDIS into the future, and this is all part of the government focusing on what is its core business.