Australia’s latest Prime Minister to step through the revolving door at the Lodge seems set to continue his war on people with disability. Earlier, Scott Morrison was out celebrating the government’s astounding approach to balancing the budget by, amongst other attacks on Aussie’s in need, cutting payments to people with disability and slowing the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme to pocket the ‘savings’. More on that here…
Now Scott Morrison has announced that he will be stripping $3.9 billion out of funds allocated to the NDIS. ScoMo intends to ‘repurpose’ the $3.9 billion by taking the NDIS funds and adding a further $1.1 billion to create a new $5 billion Drought Future Fund to support the agriculture industry.
With another federal election ahead of us in 2019, it is hard to see this as anything other than a blatant vote grab to sure up the Coalition’s base in regional Australia. Effectively, Scomo is robbing Peter to pork barrel Paul.
After taking control of the Liberal Party and the nation, Scott Morrison has shown that he is more concerned with politics than leadership. For as long as it lasts, ScoMo’s term in the Prime Ministers Office seems set to be defined by favours and kick backs for the Coalition faithful.
Serena Ovens, Chief Executive at Physical Disability Council of NSW has stated that while there is certainly a need to help farmers doing it tough with through the drought, this package comes “at the cost of an equally important scheme for some very vulnerable people”.
The $3.9 billion has been redirected from the Building Australia Fund which was closed under ScoMo’s predecessor Malcolm Turnbull. Earlier in 2018, the then Treasurer Scott Morrison had allocated the remaining funding from Building Australia to support the long term funding of the NDIS.
This would have stop gapped National Disability Insurance Scheme funding in the absence of the planned Medicare levy increase. The levy increase was planned to provide $8 billion which would create the necessary funds to ensure the Scheme was sustainable. The government scrapped the Medicare levy increase earlier this year.
At full rollout, the NDIS has been projected to cost $22 billion annually. By reallocating the funds, ScoMo has left the NDIS provision fund without the medicare levy and without the $3.9 billion from Building Australia. Naturally, this raises questions about the sustainability of the Scheme.
Taking to Twitter, @ScottMorrisonMP has declared
Not one cent of funds for the NDIS is being used to support our new Future Drought Fund. The NDIS is 100% fully funded. Every cent, every dollar.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) October 27, 2018
In Scott Morrison’s mind, it seems the funds that were allocated to the NDIS by then Treasurer Scott Morrison were not allocated to the NDIS in the memory of now Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mathias Corman, Minister for Finance and the Public Service, also says there is nothing to worry about, stating;
“Our sound economic and fiscal management has enabled us to fully fund the NDIS from consolidated revenue without increasing the Medicare Levy as originally proposed and without transferring the Building Australia Funds into the NDIS Savings Special Account,”
However as Serena Ovens from the Physical Disability Council of NSW has noted, the government’s position is dependent on the current improved global economic conditions and a downturn in the economy would put the NDIS at risk. As Ovens stated to Fairfax:
“The government is saying they’ve got enough funds to manage it, which is all well and good now – if you have funds, great – but, in two years’ time, the government might be not in the same place and therefore not have the funds put aside,”
West Australian Senator and Disability Spokesperson for the Greens, Jordan Steele-John told the Guardian:
“[Funding the NDIS out of consolidated revenue] basically means that we have to bet the future sustainability of the scheme on the continued strength of the budget bottom line and the state of our future revenue, which we all know goes up and down,”
So while drought affected farmers are still praying for rain, people with disability are left to hope their are no rainy days is Australia’s economic future.
With a federal election expected in the first half of next year, will the Coalition government’s cuts to the NDIS and support for Australians with disability impact your vote? Let us know in the poll on Facebook
How do you feel about these cuts to NDIS funding? Do the ends justify the means? Are you confident that the NDIS is sustainable long term? Let us know your thoughts and how you feel about this in the comments.
Update: an earlier version of this article added the $3.9 billion of NDIS funding to the $3.9 billion of the Building Australia fund. We apologise for this error. Scott Morrison’s tweet and a quote from Senator Jordan Steele-John added