MSA welcomed and supported paralympian and disability advocate Kurt Fearnley’s recent comments regarding the government’s attempt to link funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to cuts to social services by the government.
MS Australia, like many other organisations representing the needs of people who are having a tough time dealing with a chronic illness or a degenerative disease, shares Kurt Fearnley’s disappointment with the Federal Government’s current tactic of linking a series of welfare ‘cost savings’ in its latest Omnibus Bill, to funding for the NDIS.
In some ways, this reminds us of the previous government’s attempt to link funding for the Medical Research Future Fund with GP co-payments – and we all know how that ended up!
MS Australia has for some time had the full and timely roll out of the NDIS on its “watch list”. This has surprised many observers as successive governments have continued to make this commitment and told us that this is a ‘done deal’, but this recent government proposal shows why we cannot let this issue rest and instead focus on getting the NDIS properly implemented. Perhaps it is time to revisit the bi-partisan support and commitment to the NDIS made by the major parties since its inception.
As many other commentators have said, linking welfare cuts to NDIS funding is completely inappropriate, some have said “appalling”. The success of the NDIS should never be predicated on cost savings in other areas. Fortunately it seems the Nick Xenophon team, Jacqui Lambie and other cross-benchers are publically announcing they will not support this approach, so we are hopeful it will fail.
The government will need to re-think its approach and not pit people with disabilities against people with financial disadvantage if it’s to produce a budget in May that was wide public support, has easy passage through the Senate and has any chance of being implemented!