Main Image

05 July 2021


SUBJECT: Morrison Government’s attacks on the NDIS.

KIMBERLY KITCHING, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES AND THE NDIS: [inaudible] in helping Australians with disability to achieve dignity in their lives. This scheme was obviously set up as the idea of Bill Shorten, he's now the Shadow Minister for the NDIS and for Government Services. I'm the Assistant Shadow Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, but we're here today to thank the staff for the amazing job that they do. What we also wanted to highlight for the staff is that, of course, they know where the failures in the system, where they are. And we think that the new Minister and let's face it, the only have her because she had to leave the Defence portfolio because of the alleged crime in her office. So, she was actually put into this portfolio because Morrison, the Prime Minister, was not able to entirely get rid of her out of cabinet. And that is why we have her. That is the only reason she is the Minister for this very important service. Because what kind of society are we? It will leave people with disability behind. As Australians, we should want every Australian to live with dignity. So, without further ado, I'll hand over to the Shadow Minister for the NDIS. 

BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Thanks, Senator Kitching. It's great to be here in Geelong at the National Disability Insurance Agency, which administers the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Today, we've got a clear message to Mr Morrison - hands off the NDIS. The Morrison Government is currently planning an all-out assault on the participants in the NDIS, by making it harder for people who are profoundly and severely impaired to get the NDIS packages. We're here also to thank the workforce, the thousands of everyday workers at the head office of the National Disability Insurance Agency. They are doing tireless and brilliant work. The problem is that they are being let down by the Minister and the leadership of the NDIS. We're saying today, Labor is up to improve the NDIS. We want to return it to its core vision and values - giving choice and control to profoundly and severely impaired Australians. We think that the workforce of the NDIS can help identify where money can be saved, without throwing a whole lot of people with disabilities on the scrapheap. We're saying today to the Morrison Government, stop independent assessments, stop right now. Go back to the start. Go back to the very beginning. Do not carry out independent assessments. We're also encouraging people who work for the Agency to stand up, to let us know where the money's been wasted by the top leadership and we say to the Government, hands off the NDIS. We've also got with us Libby Coker, who is the Federal Member for Corangamite, she's on the joint parliamentary committee which oversees the NDIS, and she's doing great work to try and make sure the NDIS is true to its core vision and values. We might get Libby just to say a few words

LIBBY COKER, MEMBER FOR CORANGAMITE: I'd just like to thank Bill and Kimberly for being with me here today. We’re meeting the workers of the NDIS scheme, and we are saying to them, we value the work you do, it’s such important work to support some of our most vulnerable citizens in this region. But we're also saying we want workers to have secure, ongoing work. And being on joint parliamentary committee, and having a fantastic reference group in Geelong on disability, I know from them that there is the [inaudible], that people are very concerned about independent assessments, and that they come into these jobs wanting to care for people And we want to help them to do that. We’re saying to the Morrison Government, hands off the NDIS. Do not introduce independent assessments. And listen to the local people, like the people of my electorate who really value the NDIA and scheme as we do. We created the scheme, we will protect the Scheme, and we want to see workers who work in the field valued and supported. So, thanks so much Bill and Kimberly for organising today.

JOURNALIST: Just on the vaccine rollout, what's your assessment of the COVID vaccine rollout among disability care workers? 

SHORTEN: Disability care workers are the forgotten people of Mr Morrison's vaccination program. The rate of vaccination for disability workers is far too low. There are thousands and thousands of people with disabilities for whom they've never been able to come out of isolation since COVID started, because their workers haven't been vaccinated. Mr Morrison promised that all people with disabilities and their carers would get vaccinated. He's missed every deadline. And the problem is that whilst we've got people in Sydney and Brisbane who are locked down right now, those lockdowns will be lifted. But until disability workers are vaccinated, the lockdown is never lifted for people with disability. 

JOURNALIST: Should the vaccine be mandatory for workers in disability care like aged care workers? 

SHORTEN: I think that before we get to mandating compulsory vaccinations, all those who want a vaccination should be able to get a vaccination. We might well end up with mandating vaccinations for disability workers, but at the moment, it's a pipe dream. Because there are literally thousands of disability support workers who want to be vaccinated, who can't get vaccinated. There are thousands of disability workers who want to be vaccinated but they're getting mixed public health messages from a Prime Minister who rushes out and has thought bubbles about who can get what type of vaccine. So, before we get to mandatory vaccination, it'd be just really nice in Australia for everyone who wants a vaccination, could get a vaccination. 

JOURNALIST: And just lastly, is it fair to blame unvaccinated staff at aged care facilities where there have been COVID outbreaks? 

SHORTEN: First of all, COVID is going to be with us until we probably get everyone vaccinated and we're going to keep getting lockdowns and worse whilst the vaccine rollout isn't finished. My view of the future is that sooner or later we won't have lockdowns, but we can't get to that unless people are vaccinated. So, I think that all aged care workers should have the option to be vaccinated and should be able to get vaccinated now. The reality is, I've heard of lots of stories of dedicated workers have been to chase up their own vaccinations, ringing countless GPs, making countless appointments just so they can get vaccinated. The Morrison Government had two jobs this year, one was to have proper quarantine, and the other one is to roll out the vaccinations. They’re zero from two. Thanks guys.