Shorten flounders on Labor's commitment to NDIS

Labor’s failure to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been exposed as Bill Shorten floundered to explain Labor’s funding commitments for the Scheme when in Government.

In 2013 Labor claimed it would fill a funding gap for the NDIS through the meaningless description ‘other long-term savings from the 2013-14 budget. http://www.budget.gov.au/2013-14/content/glossy/NDIS_policy/html/NDIS_overview_04.htm

On ABC Radio’s AM this morning Mr Shorten said:  “I was there in 2013 when Jenny Macklin outlined that we would increase the Medicare levy and we would make other savings.”

The problem has always been that these mysterious “other savings” of about $2.4 billion in 2019-20 (the first full year of operation of the NDIS) were never identified in any meaningful way nor identified in any budget paper that linked them in any way to the NDIS.

When that issue was raised in Senate Estimates in June 2013, Treasury’s response, when asked whether these “other savings” measures could be listed in detail; was, “the short answer is no.” 

Labor at the time also variously claimed that savings made from superannuation and private health insurance changes would be used for budget repair or to fund dental health measures.

It’s easy to see how Labor destroyed the Budget with double accounting like that.

Every Australian, except it seems Mr Shorten, knows you can only spend money once.

It’s clear now that savings Labor claims it made went into consolidated revenue and were never set aside for the NDIS.  Instead, they were washed away by Labor’s increasing cumulative deficits. The Labor budget that supposedly funded the NDIS predicted a surplus of $1.5 billion but in reality delivered a deficit of $18.8 billion.

Labor left a $4.1 billion funding gap in the NDIS in 2019-20 – the first full year of operation of the scheme.  And that gap grows bigger every year, to more than $7 billion in 2028-29.

The Turnbull Government is absolutely committed to the NDIS and will fill Labor’s funding gap to ensure that the 460,000 Australians living with disability as well as their families and carers have the supports they need to ensure they can live ordinary lives.

Once much needed reform to make child care more available and affordable for low-income families is funded, other savings of more than $3 billion from the Omnibus Bill are earmarked to fill Labor’s NDIS funding gap. 

Regardless of the progress of this Bill, the Government will continue to work right across government to identify savings to ensure the NDIS is fully-funded.

Instead of trying to re-write history, Mr Shorten should support the reasonable measures in the Omnibus Bill to achieve important child care reform; increased Paid Parental Leave to low income families and common sense streamlining of the social security system.