The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has claimed progress on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reform of the electricity market following today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.
Gillard and the state and territory leaders reached agreement to establish a new Standing Council on Disability Reform. Gillard said: “The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.”
The former Victorian Labor Premier, John Brumby, has been appointed to chair the COAG Reform Council for the next three years.
Brumby will replace businessman Paul McClintock when he takes up the position in January.
The seven-member council “assists the Council of Australian Governments with its reform agenda”.
It reports to COAG and provides reports on the performance of Australian governments in achieving benchmarks set out in national agreements and partnership arrangements.
A former teacher and teachers’ union official, Brumby, 59, held the federal seat of Bendigo for the ALP from 1983-90. He became Chief of Staff to federal minister Alan Griffiths before being elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 1993. Later that year he was elected to the Legislative Assembly district of Broadmeadows, replacing the former Labor leader Jim Kennan.
As Opposition Leader, and with Julia Gillard as his Chief of Staff, Brumby lost the 1996 election and was replaced by Steve Bracks in 1999. After the ALP defeated Jeff Kennett’s coalition government later that year, Brumby became Finance Minister before taking over as Treasurer in May 2000. He held that position until Steve Bracks retired in July 2007. Brumby then served as Premier until November 2010 when he was narrowly defeated by Ted Baillieu.
Text of a media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
New Chair Of COAG Reform Council
The Hon John Brumby has been appointed to chair the COAG Reform Council for the next three years.
The COAG Reform Council assists the Council of Australian Governments with its reform agenda.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has written to state premiers asking them to prepare for a new national agreement on energy prices by the end of the year.
Gillard said power prices have risen unsustainably because of over-investment that has driven up energy costs by 48% in the past four years. “And ordinary businesses and households have been entirely uncompensated for these significant cost increases.”
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.