Additional Comments by the Australian Greens

1.1        The Australian Greens welcome the opportunity to provide additional comments to this inquiry.

1.2        The Australia Greens are committed to a fully funded National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and want to see a secure, reliable and adequate source of funding for the scheme.

1.3        We note the excerpt of the Treasurer's second reading speech at paragraph 1.2 of the Majority Committee Report, specifically his reference to providing '[c]ertainty that the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be fully funded for the long term'.

1.4        The Australian Greens are concerned to ensure that that funding ensures the scheme is functioning as intended. We have concerns that the scheme is not at that point, for example:

1.5        The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (the committee) has completed numerous inquiries into the NDIS and its rollout. Recently the committee has tabled a number of reports raising a large number of concerns and making substantive recommendations in relation to the scheme. The Australian Greens want to see these recommendations actioned by the government.

1.6        Some of these recommendations are:

1.7        Some of these recommendations will require additional monies to be committed and this should be factored into the government's projected NDIS expenditure (the Australian Greens note here that the government's projected NDIS expenditure is still based off the Productivity Commission's 2011 study from before the scheme's rollout commenced).

1.8        The Australian Greens are also concerned that the government is attempting to provide certainty of a fully funded NDIS before the final report of the Productivity Commission into NDIS costs is released at the end of this month, which could well recommend changes to the pricing structure of the NDIS.

1.9        The Australian Greens also support the submissions of Australian Universities and Researchers that abolishing the Education Investment Fund is short-sighted and undermines our country's future productivity and well-being. As the Group of Eight submission to the inquiry states:

The fact is that if you damage research, you damage not only the research-driven medical and other advances that could prevent or alleviate permanent impairment but indeed the economy which sustains many of the critical services we wish to have available in the long term.

1.10      The funding of the NDIS should be separate from cutting funding from Australia's strengths in advancing cutting-edge research. There is no justifiable policy reason for the $3.8 billion in the Education Investment Fund to be redirected to the NDIS. Instead the fund must be quarantined to fund both capital and operating costs of important national research. 

1.11      Lastly, the Australian Greens note the Majority Committee Report endorses the findings of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee's inquiry into the National Disability Insurance Scheme Savings Fund Special Account Bill 2016 (paragraph 2.44 of the Majority Committee Report). The Australian Greens dissented from the findings of that inquiry and are still of the view that the Bill should not be passed in its current form.

Senator Rachel Siewert                                         Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Australian Greens, WA                                         Australian Greens, SA

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