Government using 'smoke and mirrors' policy to retain power

13th Apr 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is concerned the federal government is misleading vulnerable Australians in a bid to bolster re-election prospects and that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will not live up to its potential benefit to the community.

Jenny Macklin, this week, commented that "The NDIS would insure all Australians for the cost of care and support in the event of significant and permanent disability," Australian Lawyers Alliance president-elect, Anthony Kerin, said.

“However, the Productivity Commission Report, last year, outlined that ‘around 410,000 people’ would receive funding support from the NDIS.

"Given that there are approximately 4 million people with disability, and 2.6 million carers in the country, there needs to be honesty on the part of government about who will receive support under such a scheme and who will not,” Mr Kerin said.

To suggest that every Australian with a disability under 65 years of age can expect to receive care, would appear to require substantial funding beyond that mooted to date.

NDIS was on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting agenda in Canberra, today, and Disability Reform Minister Jenny Macklin has confirmed the planned roll out of the scheme will be a year earlier than first planned, yet serious questions on funding remain.

Mr Kerin also said the NDIS issue appeared to distract from the roll out of the National injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) running in tandem with NDIS. The NIIS would ultimately slash common law rights for damages for the injured, a fundamental right for all Australians.

Examples of this were already being considered in Mr Kerin’s home state of South Australia, where a no-fault scheme regarding motor vehicle collisions is being considered.

“People need to be vigilant in supporting the rights of people with disability as set out under the Convention on the Rights of People with Disability. A rights-based approach should dictate policy development,” Mr Kerin said.

“Organisations representing people with disability need to be in the policy room.

"Disability advocacy groups have expertise in dealing across the spectrum of government, society, and across many types of disability and impairment. Their insight is crucial to the developing the right strategies to better support people with disability.

"The ALA calls on federal and state governments to ensure peak disability organisations are invited to the table to ensure the concerns of people with disability are properly represented."

Tags: Compensation Disability NDIS NIIS