This article appeared in the Courier Mail, 15 May 2012. By Anna Caldwell and Steven Wardill
PREMIER Campbell Newman has rejected calls for a levy to fund landmark disability reform, despite refusing Federal
Government requests for the state to help pay for the scheme.
While both sides of the Federal Parliament agree on the need for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, Mr Newman has dug in his heels over funding the state’s share, and criticised the scheme recommended by the Productivity Commission.
The Gillard Government has not ruled out a levy or a tax to pay the $13 billion-a-year price tag on the full scheme - an option canvassed last year by the Productivity Commission and also requires states to spend extra money to roll the scheme out nationally.
Mr Newman said the Commonwealth was playing a cynical political game and there was no need for a levy.
“If the Federal Government was serious about these things they would go and try and find those savings, the money is there,” he said.
The Courier-Mail revealed yesterday Queensland currently contributes the least of all the states to each person with a disability, at $5830 per person.
The Federal Government considers Queensland’s current spend on disability services unreasonable, and wants the state to contribute more to fund a national lifetime care plan that will offer equal support and services to all Australians no matter where or how they acquire their disability.
Mr Newman also attacked the Gillard Government’s budgeted $1 billion commitment to fund four launch sites of the NDIS from next year, saying only about $330 million would reach disabled people.
“The rest of the money goes to a new bureaucracy and a computer system over four years over the whole of Australia,” he said. “So if we are going to do something like this let’s get the money to the people in need, not the bureaucrats and the people who sell computer systems.”
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday sidestepped questions about a levy but called for a bipartisan committee to make sure the reforms happened.
“According to the Productivity Commission’s timetable, the NDIS will be fully rolled out over three terms of parliament and to ensure that we maintain our focus, to make sure that we keep the momentum going, it is important we do set up this committee to establish leadership on this, to make sure all the details have been meticulously worked through and got right,” he said.
What we know
- NDIS will provide lifetime care and support to people with a disability, no matter how or where it is acquired
- Cost about $13 billion a year nationally double the current spend on disabilities
- Queensland currently has the lowest spend of any of the states per person with a disability
- Gillard Government has budgeted $1 billion for four or five launch sites
- No decision yet about the national rollout or funding
- A tax or Medicare style levy has been mooted as one option
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