Mr COULTON (Parkes–The Nationals Chief Whip) (11:36): I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Dawson. I say at the outset that I am a little disappointed in my colleagues on the other side of the chamber. They seem to have misread the intention of this motion. The member for Dawson and the member for Hughes, who respectively moved and seconded this motion, have done so not only for the best of reasons but as people who have a deep understanding of this particular issue. The member for Blair’s contribution was one of the most appalling contributions I have heard in this place. I agree with much of what the member for Hindmarsh said, but I found the political angle he came from very disappointing.
As a point of clarification, some of the premiers did not rush to agree to the trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme because there was no guarantee that the trial would flow through to being implemented. Further, the trial was to be funded by the state premiers. They had every reason to show some concern with what was being proposed.
The NDIS is not something that is filling up a news cycle. This is a scheme that is going to take three political terms to implement. When you speak to the people from Disability Services Australia they say that they know there is no quick fix. There is no need for political speeches at this stage because this is a big, long-term reform that will require a lot of effort.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is significant, necessary reform. It has the potential to transform people’s lives and we, the parliament, have the opportunity to be part of this. Meeting the needs of Australians with disability should be core government business. Only bipartisanship will ensure the NDIS proceeds smoothly. As I said, this has to survive three parliamentary cycles, at least, to reach full implementation. As a society we should be able to properly support people with a disability and their carers.
Many people with disabilities face significant challenges in fully participating in work, family and community and they are some of the most vulnerable in our society. There should be adequate support both for people with disability and for their carers. In a rural electorate such as mine, whether people are born with a disability or whether they acquire a disability, they face a much more dramatic situation. That is not only because of travel distances but also because it is more difficult to find others with similar care needs who could share a group house. Quite often people with a disability who live in rural areas find that they are the only ones in their community with a particular disability and that there is no provision of services.
Unfortunately, the current support for Australians with a disability is a frayed patchwork characterised by piecemeal programs, inconsistent eligibility criteria and a lack of coordination. That is why the NDIS is imperative. I support the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme 100 per cent. It is important for all Australians. The National Disability Insurance Scheme will provide insurance cover for all Australians in the event of significant disability and will revolutionise the way people with a disability, their families and their carers are supported in this country. The proposed NDIS aims to give everyone with a serious disability comparable treatment and assistance to that currently available for people injured at work or on the roads. There is the old saying: if someone has a serious accident on the weekend, you should really try to get them into a car and hit a tree, because a whole range of financial help is available to people who have a car accident. The multipronged approach to the way we handle people with disabilities needs to be addressed.
An NDIS is expensive but the cost is merely a function of the unmet needs of people with a disability. The Productivity Commission quantified these unmet needs at around $6½ billion per annum. That is what would be required to eliminate the waiting lists- (Time expired)