Date: 
Thursday 2 May 2013

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes says he’s pleased Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has agreed to consider the proposed NDIS levy.

Mr Abbott announced today that the Coalition was prepared to consider a modest increase in the Medicare levy and would like to see the legislation introduced ahead of the federal election.

“I’ve said before that it’s a matter for the politicians as to whether this proposal is introduced before or after the election. But obviously I, and millions of other Australians, would be pleased to see the NDIS levy passed as soon as possible because we have been waiting far too long for desperately needed support and services,” said Commissioner Innes.

“The reason for the Commission’s support for this levy is simple; it makes sense and it’s fair. The current disability service system is broken and broke and is leaving thousands of Australians in the same situation. Today, there are so many stories of Australians who have only two or three showers a week, or leave their home just a few times a year; all because we don’t have a system that can support them,” said Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.

These aren’t just anecdotal stories. The statistics speak for themselves.

Almost half of Australians with a disability live in poverty. That puts us at the bottom of 27 OECD countries when it comes to poverty risk and disability. The likelihood of a child with a disability completing year 12 is half of what it is for those without disability. Employment remains low at around 54%, compared with 83% for those without disability and once again, it puts us well down the OECD employment participation list.

It’s a grim picture, but it’s far from hopeless. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates the NDIS would improve employment participation, adding $50 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2050. The Productivity Commission has also done the math, finding that the NDIS would have overall economic benefits likely to substantially exceed the costs, by facilitating greater economic and social participation by people with a disability, as well their families and carers.

“Money and the potential for greater prosperity are both important, but let’s not forget the human dimension of all of this. The NDIS is the best possible chance Australia has ever had to help fellow Australians out of poverty, into work and education and to contribute to a society in which we all deserve to be included” said Commissioner Innes.

The Commission urges the opposition, states and territories, get behind the proposal in the interest of the millions of Australians that desperately need support.