MARIUS BENSON: The Federal minister Jenny Macklin joins us now. Jenny Macklin, good morning.
JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning Marius.
MARIUS BENSON: Can I just check what the state of play is with talks? We have talks in Melbourne. Are you going to be part of those talks?
JENNY MACKLIN: I’m certainly willing to be part of them if the states of Victoria and New South Wales are serious about putting their fair share of the financial contribution on the table. The Federal Government has 400 million dollars available to spend for people with disability in the Hunter region in New South Wales and the Geelong area in Victoria.
We want to put that money in. We want to make sure that people with disability and their carers get the extra support they need but it’s only fair that New South Wales and Victoria make the same contribution relatively that South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have made.
Those three states have already put money on the table; have been prepared to put their own contribution forward for people with disability. And the same needs to apply for New South Wales and Victoria.
MARIUS BENSON: So you’ll only take part in talks if that condition is met; if that money’s put up before-hand? Well, yesterday you spent the whole day sitting at a table with New South Wales and Victoria and Queensland. You couldn’t get the money, so there’s not much prospect today presumably?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I hope that New South Wales and Victoria have got the message that it’s a reasonable contribution for them to make. As they say, they want more work done by officials on the details. Of course we are happy for that to take place and officials will meet today to go through the details of how we’ve arrived at these figures.
But of course what’s happened since is that we now have three states willing to put money on the table. They are saying in South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT that they’re putting their own money on the table as well as the money from the Federal Government.
That means that the NDIS is now real for ten thousand people in those jurisdictions. We want it to be real in the Hunter in New South Wales and Geelong in Victoria but the states of Victoria and New South Wales also have to put some money on the table.
MARIUS BENSON: You’ve made the point that the Commonwealth is providing, overwhelmingly, the bulk of this money. I think about 78 per cent was the figure you quoted...
JENNY MACKLIN: … that’s right.
MARIUS BENSON: But even so, the amount of money that’s preventing this universally praised, universally endorsed scheme from happening seems so trivial. In the case of say, Victoria- 40 million dollars over three years, maybe 13 million dollars a year. Is it worth the Commonwealth saying, ‘we don’t agree with it, but we’ll put all the money in because the scheme is more important’?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I think it’s only fair that, given we now have Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory saying they’ll pay their fair share, that the two biggest states do the same. So I think it’s now a matter of being fair to everybody. The Commonwealth is prepared to pay 78 per cent of the start-up costs of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
We’ve put one billion dollars on the table from a very difficult Budget to make sure that people with disability and their carers don’t have to wait any longer for a National Disability Insurance Scheme. That’s really what this is about; is delivering for people who have waited for long enough.
So I’ll just say again to NSW and Victoria, you have to put in your fair share. We’re happy to meet today if people are going to get serious but this is not the time for political games. This is a time to come to the table and for each state to put their money, their contribution on the table.
MARIUS BENSON: Realistically from what you’re saying, from what has been said from the states – the Liberal states – you won’t be attending talks today and there’ll be a continuing, indefinite delay in providing this insurance on a national basis.
JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’m available all day today, tomorrow, whichever day on which New South Wales and Victoria realise that they have to play their part; that people with disability in their states think it’s only fair that New South Wales and Victoria pull the same weight that the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and South Australia are doing. That way we can get on with it in the Hunter and in Geelong just like we are in South Australia, Tasmania and in Canberra.
MARIUS BENSON: Jenny Macklin, thanks very much for talking with Newsradio this morning.
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