Treasurer Scott Morrison has delivered the Turnbull government’s 2017 budget plan. A medicare levy increase has been created to support funding for the NDIS. The additional levy of 0.5% on the income of all Australians who pay income tax is intended to support full funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Just as medicare provides universal basic health coverage for all Australians, so too does the National Disability Insurance Scheme provide a safety net for all Australians who may experience disability at some point in their life.
Treasurer Morrison announced that his proposed budget would “close the funding gap for our National Disability Insurance Scheme once and for all.
The funding gap is currently $55.7 billion over the next ten years. We have previously sought to close this gap with budget savings that we have not been able to get through the Parliament.
To ensure the NDIS is fully funded we will legislate to increase the Medicare Levy by 0.5 percentage points in two years’ time, when the extra bills start coming in.”
In addressing the reason for the 2 year delay, Treasurer Morrison said:
“This will also provide further time to explain to Australians what the NDIS will deliver.
Even if we are not impacted directly, this is all our responsibility.
Our decision to increase the Levy reflects the fact that all Australians have a role to play.”
Acknowledging the difficulty that people with mental illness have faced, being left to slip through the cracks of the NDIS, Scott Morrison also announced “a commitment of $80 million for Australians with a mental illness such as severe depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia and post-natal depression resulting in a psychosocial disability, including those who had been at risk of losing their services during the transition to the NDIS.”
The long term security of funding for the scheme, which is expected to cost $22 Billion annually from 2020, is a welcome move that provides certainty in the future of the NDIS for people with disability, carers, care professionals and the care industry. What is less welcome is the Treasurer’s move to limit social security to some people with disability based on the way their disability was acquired.
Before closing his speech on handing down the 2017 Budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison landed an unexpected parting blow:
“Other welfare measures include: strengthening verification requirements for single parents seeking welfare, a crackdown on those attempting to collect multiple payments, stricter residency rules for new migrants to access Australian pensions, and denying welfare for a disability caused solely by their own substance abuse.“
The removal of the social safety net for people with disability acquired due to substance abuse will further harm people who are the least advantaged in our community. This grandstanding may win political points in some corners, but lacks morality, integrity or even basic economic sense.
The policy case that won bipartisan support for the NDIS was, in conjunction with the moral imperative, built on the economic multiplier from the benefits of supporting people with disability and carers with the choice to participate more fully in the workforce and the improved economic outcomes of a market for care directed by people with disability.
It does not make sense to exclude people with disability who’s disability stems solely from substance abuse from that equation. This attack on people with disability shows bad morals, bad ethics and bad economics. Unfortunately, Treasurer Morrison believes it’s good politics.
If you’d like to help Scott Morrison understand that bad morals, bad ethics and bad economics are bad politics, we would welcome you to add your voice to this petition: