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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

NDIS: Morrison says welfare clampdown needed to fund disability scheme

NDIS: Morrison says welfare clampdown needed to fund disability scheme


NDIS: Morrison says welfare clampdown needed to fund disability scheme






Labor says national disability insurance scheme being used as a cover
for cuts while disability group says minister is deliberately
conflating state and federal spending on welfare












wheelchair



Scott Morrison has been accused of deliberately conflating two separate
welfare funding structures. Photograph: Denis Closon / Rex
Features/Denis Closon / Rex Features


Scott Morrison
has been criticised by disability advocates after indicating that
welfare spending would have to be wound back to fund the national
disability insurance scheme.



Morrison, the new social services minister, said the government was fully committed to the NDIS, but people “taking a lend” of the welfare system would be targeted to make the disability initiative sustainable.


“Everyone supports the NDIS, but making it work is the hard part. It will cost $10bn a year,” Morrison told the Australian.


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“The
NDIS can’t just fall from the sky. You have to embed it at the heart of
the system. To achieve sustainability of the safety net – of which the
NDIS is the holy grail – you need sustainability in other parts of the
system.



“To relieve the burden on the system it is about getting people off
welfare and into work, and to work as much as they are able. This is the
goal we are working towards. I would hope it is a goal the opposition
shares. They support the NDIS, but are they going to support what needs
to be done to fund it?”



Mary Mallett, the chief executive of the Disability Advocacy Network Australia, said Morrison was “deliberately confusing people” over how welfare spending related to the NDIS.


“They are conflating two issues where there is no connection between
them,” she told Guardian Australia. “The NDIS replaces the care and
support provided by the states and territories, money that is already
being spent. The majority of people who have a significant disability
will be on the disability support pension [DSP], but that’s the only
relationship to welfare.



“I don’t understand why the government would deliberately blend the
two. It feels like the NDIS is being used as an emotional blackmail tool
so the government can say: ‘We will have to cut everything to make the
NDIS happen’.



“That puts us in a very difficult position because we want the NDIS
to happen but we don’t want people kicked off the DSP and onto Newstart,
when it offers so little money.”



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Mallett’s
organisation has been stripped of $165,000 in federal funding in a
government move to shrink the number of disability peak groups it
supports from 13 to seven.



Morrison compared the implementation of the NDIS to measures he
brought in in his previous role as immigration minister to prevent
asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat.



He said: “The NDIS has bipartisan support. People wanted to see
people stopped drowning at sea, it’s a goal everybody agrees with, but
it’s of no value to anyone if it doesn’t turn up.”



Morrison said he was concerned about effective outcomes for the
welfare system, rather than getting praise from the “latte set” that
would criticise any crackdown on payments.



The NDIS, a national insurance safety net for disabled people, is at
the trial stage in each state and territory apart from Queensland. It
will not be fully implemented nationally until 2017-18 at the earliest.



Mallett said: “There are a lot of games being played around the NDIS.
I don’t think it is at risk, but I think the government wants to play
this game so they can take a large number of people off the DSP.



“The proportion of people in disability support is the same in
Australia as other western countries. We don’t have a significantly
worse situation of people abusing the system but the government is
desperate to convince people that’s the case,” she said.



Labor said the NDIS was “fully funded” by a 0.5% increase in the Medicare levy, which it said would raise about $20bn by 2019.


“Any claim by Mr Morrison that the NDIS isn’t fully funded is just
plain wrong,” said Jenny Macklin, Labor’s disability reform spokeswoman.



“This is a disgusting and cynical attempt by Scott Morrison to use
the NDIS as a cover for the Abbott government’s next round of savage
cuts to vulnerable Australians.



“Mr Morrison should think twice before trying to use the NDIS to advance his own political interest.”