Gillard And O’Farrell Reach Agreement On NDIS Funding In N.S.W.

The Federal and New South Wales governments have reached an agreement that will allow for the full roll out of a National Disability Insurance Scheme in NSW by July 2018.

Gillard-O'Farrell

Speaking at a joint press conference today, Prime Minister Gillard and Premier Barry O’Farrell announced that the Commonwealth will provide $3.2 billion in 2018, 51.4% of the funding needed. NSW will provide $3.32 billion.

The agreement will provide care to around 140,000 NSW residents with significant disability.

  • Listen to the Gillard-O’Farrell press conference (18m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Text of a media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Agreement For Full Roll Out Of National Disability Insurance Scheme In NSW By July 2018

The Australian and New South Wales governments have today reached an historic agreement that will allow for the full roll out of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in New South Wales by July 2018.

The agreement will provide care and support to around 140,000 NSW residents with significant disability, and provide coverage in the event of disability to around one third of the Australian population.

It will provide peace of mind to people with a disability, their families and carers, and to the Australians who will unexpectedly face misfortune in the future.

It will give people with disability choice and control over the care and support they receive, rather than exposing them to the cruel lottery that currently exists, where care depends on a range of unpredictable factors.

Under the agreement reached today:

  • The Commonwealth will provide funding of $3.32 billion in 2018 – 51.4 per cent of the funding needed. This will cover the administration of the scheme and contribute to the cost of individual care and support packages and other supports for people with disability, their carers and their families.
  • New South Wales will provide more than $3.13 billion in 2018 – 48.6 per cent of the funding needed. This will contribute to the cost of individual packages and other supports for people with disability, their carers and their families.
  • The full scheme costs will be reviewed by the Productivity Commission in 2018-19 to inform COAG agreement on final scheme funding arrangements.

Today’s agreement builds on the agreement to launch in the Hunter region of NSW from the middle of next-year. Other eligible New South Wales residents will start entering the scheme in 2016, and by July 2018, all eligible residents will be covered by the NDIS.

The implementation of the NDIS in NSW provides a framework for a national scheme to be rolled out in all states and territories.

An NDIS will also be launched in South Australia, Tasmania, the Barwon region of Victoria and the ACT and final bi-lateral agreements for these launches will be considered at tomorrow’s COAG meeting.

Transcript of joint press conference held by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Minister for Disability Reform Jenny Macklin, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, and NSW Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance.

Julia Gillard

Gillard: We’re here today together to make a very important announcement about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The reason we are so determined today deliver a National Disability Insurance Scheme is we want to make a difference for the lives of 410,000 Australians who have serious disabilities.

For those 410,000 Australians, they currently face an underfunded system and a fragmented system and it can be hard for them to get the care that they need.

But having a National Disability Insurance Scheme, whilst it is about those Australians, it is actually about all of us because any Australian is at risk of getting a disability during their lifetime.

Any Australian could face the birth into their family of a child with a profound disability. Any Australian could be involved in an accident that left them with a profound disability. Any Australian themselves or through a family member, could see the ravaging effects of some of our most debilitating illnesses and the disabilities that they give people.

So creating a better system of care for people with disabilities is creating a better system of care for all Australians; giving Australians a reassurance that with our resilient economy, we can keep on building the great Australian project of a proper social safety net. We can keep on building the great Australian project of a fair go.

Piece by piece we have worked to develop the National Disability Insurance Scheme. At the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting we sat, and in the days that followed the COAG meeting we agreed to launch sites around the country, including in New South Wales.

Since then, I have introduced into the Parliament the legislation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And today, here with the Premier of New South Wales, I am in a position to announce that the Federal Government and the New South Wales Government have reached an agreement about how to support the full National Disability Insurance Scheme in New South Wales.

We are agreed on having a launch site in the Hunter region of New South Wales and then when it comes time to move from that launch site to the full scheme in 2018, we have reached an agreement about funding shares and mechanisms for that full scheme.

At its most simple, what it means is that the Commonwealth and the State will share around half of the burden that the Commonwealth and the State will each put in an extra $3 billion more for care and support of people in New South Wales.

This means 140,000 people in New South Wales with disability now can look forward to being supported by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And it means all of the people of New South Wales can look forward to having the reassurance of knowing that should trouble ever strike them or their family, they would be supported through such a scheme.

To give you the precise details, the Commonwealth will contribute 51.4 per cent of the total cost of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in New South Wales from financial year 2018/19.

That means that the Commonwealth will contribute $3.319 billion and the New South Wales Government will contribute $3.133 billion, a large injection of funding to care for people with disabilities.

We have worked hard on this arrangement together and I want to thank Premier O’Farrell for his leadership and for being the first premier to enter such an agreement with the Federal Government.

I do want to reinforce that this deal now sets the benchmark. It shows to the other states and territories that it can be done and I am determined that it will be done.

I want to build a truly national scheme and other states and territories can now look at this example and work with us to build on this example with this deal setting the benchmark.

Around the country, many people, many Australians with disabilities, their loved ones, their carers have looked forward to seeing a National Disability Insurance Scheme developed. Many of them thought that they would never see the day.

I hope from this announcement today that piece by piece they are seeing this get done. That piece by piece they are seeing us build this major reform for the Australian people and I am very proud to be here to do it.

Barry O'Farrell

O’Farrell: This is an important day for 120,000 people with disabilities, their families, their carers across New South Wales.

This gives them the guarantee that they have always deserved. This delivers to them the National Disability Insurance Scheme that has long been sought after.

What I am delighted about today is that in New South Wales, where we have the Stronger Together program which has always been a matter of bipartisanship, we also have bipartisanship within the Federal Parliament on NDIS.

That is important because this should be above politics and I think this agreement today demonstrates it is above politics.

This will ensure that for those families, those individuals, those carers who are affected by disability, that that long term support beyond the launch will continue.

Prime Minister, thank you, thanks Jenny Macklin, I want to particularly thank Andrew Constance who is the Minister for Aging and Disabilities in New South Wales; hasn’t only worked hard on this program but has worked hard particularly to give control and choice to those with disabilities within New South Wales.

We think this is not just a fair deal, this is the appropriate deal, this is the necessary deal that people with disabilities deserve and I am delighted that New South Wales is the first state to reach agreement with the Federal Government.

Journalist: Prime Minister, by 2018, I think that there is at least two federal elections before then and possibly at least one state election. To what extent, if any, are these spending commitments binding on future governments should either of you not be there by 2018?

Gillard: I think for both of us you really need to talk to the other side of politics about that. But for something as big as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, people in the sector understand that it takes some time to build to the full scheme. The Productivity Commission understood that too.

You have got to get in there and build it a step at a time. Now a lot of people would have said we weren’t going to get this far. There has been a lot of scepticism around about would we get agreements to launch sites, and then the scepticism started would we get an agreement to the full roll-out.

Here the Premier and I are today saying we can get this done and we are going to work together under this agreement to do it.

It does mean of course, that we’re going to both need to make some tough choices on our budgets. I have been very clear with the nation that I will be saying to people, we need to make some tough choices, some good decisions in order to find the money to back in the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

But I am determined to do it, Premier O’Farrell is determined to do it and here we are today getting it done.

O’Farrell: Can I just add that I think that as New South Wales has demonstrated, with Stronger Together, which is our program for people with disabilities, it requires bipartisan support. Developed by the former Labor Government, embraced in Opposition by the Liberal National Party and pursued in Government so that we have $2 billion worth of growth funding sitting there waiting for this scheme.

That is what I think is important about Monday, where you saw the Federal Opposition Leader embrace the concept of the National Disability Insurance Scheme; embrace the fact he was going to be ‘Dr Yes’ when it came to NDIS and say yes he was prepared to work with the states to ensure this became a reality.

Journalist: Does it have to be embedded in legislation and secondly what has happened to the Victorians, did they refuse to sign up?

Gillard: We’ve got to separate the agreements for the launch sites and the agreement for the full funding of the scheme. What I am announcing here today with Premier O’Farrell is an agreement about the full funding of the scheme. So Premier O’Farrell is the only premier to enter such an agreement to this point.

In terms of legislation, I introduced the legislation we need for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the final sitting week.

Journalist: But the funding, does that have to be embedded in legislation or is that just-

Gillard: The funding can be a decision of executive Government but the set-up of the scheme is the legislation I introduced last week.

Journalist: Do you expect that the break down will be markedly different with other states depending on the starting point that they have? Also, how does that funding escalate over the years after 2018/19?

Gillard: I will go to Minister Macklin on the escalation provisions but I do want to be clear about benchmarks here. No-one is going to be able to get a better deal than New South Wales got. We have set a benchmark here and we will be judging the proposals of other states against this benchmark.

Having said that, some states have got a bigger journey to travel than New South Wales, because their disability services are not at the same starting point.

We do have states at different starting points. I have made the point publicly in other places that, for example, Queensland spends less per head of population on disability services than any other state and territory. That means they have a bigger journey in front of them.

We will be working with states and territories, but Premier O’Farrell and the Commonwealth, through this agreement, have set the benchmark about how we will approach these agreements.

Minister Macklin can talk about escalation clauses.

Macklin: Thanks Prime Minister. We have agreed with New South Wales to start the transition to the full scheme from 2016. By 2018, we expect to have it fully implemented across New South Wales and we have also agreed with New South Wales that there will be a Productivity Commission inquiry at that point to make an assessment of the issues that go to your question.

Journalist: Of escalation?

Macklin: That’s right.

O’Farrell: Can I just say in relation to the negotiations, what has impressed me is these negotiations have been conducted with goodwill, they’ve been conducted as those affected by disability would expect with a clear intent of delivering this goal and yes, the Prime Minister’s again proven herself to be a tough negotiator because both of us have tight fiscal situations. But this is the right outcome and as the Prime Minister’s made clear all the way through the negotiations, this would set the benchmarks for other agreements.

Journalist: Is the formula that you’ve got, the 51.4 from the Commonwealth and 48.6, is your understanding that is how it will be in perpetuity and if I may on the question of where the money comes from, is it inevitable that in order to make that $3 billion – just over $3 billion – that you will need to make cuts in other areas of the New South Wales health budget in order to get it into this area?

O’Farrell: We’re confident that within the stronger together program we have we can fund this proposal. Our funding is both real growth dollars. As I say we have $2 billion in growth set aside, as well as in kind support. What I can also say is every dollar New South Wales puts in will go to delivering a service for a person with disabilities. It won’t go into bureaucracy, it won’t go into administration.

Journalist: Will the formula stay the same, is that part of the agreement, that the formula stays the same, or over time is that formula, as part of the design, likely to shift?

O’Farrell: Well in 2017, as you’ll see from the agreement there is proposal for the Productivity Commission to have a look at a number of things, including jurisdictional capacity, also impact of wage pressures, and the Productivity Commission may make some recommendations, on the other hand it may not make those recommendation.

So, I think the good thing is there is a relief valve there that provides an opportunity after 2016 start of this roll-out for all the issues to be considered.

Journalist: If my maths is right, then you will probably need about $10 to $11 billion by 2018. Now, with so much money required just from the Federal Government, would it be foolish for you to now rule out having some sort of levy to pay for it, given that Australians are sensible people and if they are given a sensible proposal that has a worthwhile cause, then they might be convinced to support it?

Gillard: Let me assure you as we factor the full costs of the scheme, we will probably be relying on something more robust than your maths sitting in a press conference. I want to give the Australian people that reassurance. I can see two hard working officials at the back, Ian Watt and Chris Eckles who are a bit disturbed that that is how we are going to do the figures.

But you’re right, funding this around the country is going to take considerable Federal Government investment. And I have said consistently, and let me say it again – and I’m being clear about it because I want people to understand it – we will be asking people to make some hard choices to get this done. We will be saying to people unashamedly, we are putting a priority on this and when you put a priority on it then your budget choices reflect that priority.

At the end of the day, budgets are about choices. That is true for people in their individual life, whether they value buying a home over taking an expensive overseas holiday. It is true for governments in our life whether we value a National Disability Insurance Scheme over competing uses of taxpayers’ dollars.

I have in the past ruled out a levy and I will do it again now. We will make the necessary decisions on the Federal Government budget to get this done.

Journalist: On the breakdown of the money, at the moment both you and Premier O’Farrell, you spend money on disabilities, is this $3 billion, is that new money from both of you. Or is there a bit of, are you keeping some of the money that you give to the states and re-spending it? I suppose my question is: is this going to be new money from both parties or is there a bit of recycling?

Gillard: Over time you would expect both of us to have factored growth into disability funding. We don’t produce budgets as long out as this period of time. You’d be aware of that too. We don’t produce forward estimates out that far. But what we are doing is instead of just adding money into the current system, which we know can do some good but not the complete good that we want done, because however much money you put into the current system, you are going to end up with fragmentation in the system.

We want to take this whole new approach so we are talking about making new resources available to back-in that approach. In terms of the quantums we have talked about here, they are the quantums flowing from our understanding of the costs of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and what is a fair share. Then each government needs to go away and do the hard work on its budget to make it possible.

Journalist: Prime Minister, are you creating too high an expectation given that, for example, over 65s won’t be part of the NDIS and people like New Zealanders working in Australia also won’t have access to the scheme?

Gillard: I will go to Minister Macklin on this issue of over 65s because I think it would be a good day to clarify it.

Macklin: Thanks Prime Minister. In the legislation that the Prime Minister introduced last week, we have put in the provision, as recommended by the Productivity Commission that the National Disability Insurance Scheme apply to people up to the age of 65. This is though still an issue for discussion and debate.

We have had many consultations around it so far but we will continue to do so over the next few months before the legislation is finally put to a vote in the Parliament.

Journalist: And the situation with New Zealanders?

Gillard: The residents’ requirements are also in the legislation. So the normal residents’ requirements that go with Commonwealth services but of course all these matters are open for discussion before the legislation is finally voted on.

Journalist: On another issue-

Gillard: We are only taking questions on the NDIS.

Journalist: Can you give us some sort of indication of where you’re at in terms of negotiations with the other states?

Gillard: Well, I am not going to give a call of the card with other states. But I am delighted that we have been able to reach this agreement with New South Wales which is of course our most popular state.

O’Farrell: And the state where there are more people with disabilities who will benefit from this historic agreement.

Gillard: Before Premier O’Farrell starts doing a commercial for New South Wales, which would be understandable as the Premier, but we will take one last question before we go.

Journalist: You said you won’t give a call of the card with the other states but are you having the same conversations with the other states and is it basically haggling over the share of the money?

Gillard: Once again, not giving a call of the card or running commentary about negotiations, but what today shows is you can get it done. We have just done it.

Thank you very much.

Print Friendly