5.10pm – New South Wales has joined Victoria in offering to contribute to a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the breakthrough.
Earlier this afternoon, Premier Ted Baillieu announced that Victoria would contribute $42 million to the trial. Shortly afterwards, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell offered to provide $35 million for a trial, less than the federal government was asking.
Speaking at a 5pm press conference, Gillard said: “I am now very optimistic that we will see NDIS launch sites in NSW and Victoria. We still have work to do with NSW but I’m optimistic. I want to see a robust launch site in the Hunter.”
O’Farrell tweeted: “Testing goodwill – both NSW and Victoria have come halfway and we now hope the Commonwealth will equally show a determination to end the impasse.”
The Victorian and NSW decisions represent an important political win for Gillard that comes after two days of pressure on the coalition premiers.
Nevertheless, the outcome is a tactical victory for Gillard. Whilst ensuring a full-scale trial of the NDIS is now likely in 2013, no decision has been made about ongoing funding.
Newspaper reports today on this week’s COAG meeting said the coalition premiers were willing to support a Medicare-style levy to fund the NDIS. The reports said Gillard rejected this out of fear that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would mount another “great big new tax” campaign.
Unless Gillard can lock in a decision on funding, the final shape of the scheme will fall to the next government.
- Listen to Gillard’s press conference (13m)