Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Linda Reynolds has called on the states and territories to take on more responsibility for funding the scheme, which is ballooning out of control.
“It’s not sustainable,” Reynolds told The Australian. “If you have a look at any government budget, 12 percent (the current growth rate) or over is not a sustainable long-term trajectory because ultimately, this is taxpayers’ money, and like any other government program, the money has to come from somewhere else.”
Reynolds said the original funding agreements between federal and state and territory governments were based on “very optimistic” projections that were unrealistic.
Reynolds said in a previous speech that costs were increasing by over 12 percent a year, yet budgeting was based on a 2.5 percent expectation.
“While Commonwealth Government is committed to fully funding the scheme, we all know that for any taxpayer-funded scheme, demand-driven cannot mean unlimited,” she said in July.
Governments initially agreed to fund the scheme under a 50-50 split. However, the agreement allowed the states’ share to cap at a 4 percent annual increase while the federal share was uncapped.
The accelerating growth rate has left the federal government funding over half of the costs of the scheme, which continues to rise.
Reynolds warned that the program was never meant to function as a “welfare scheme for life.”
New legislation that grants the NDIS chief executive new powers was also revealed, which includes the power to change a participant’s plan without requiring a full reassessment under limited circumstances.
“The Department and the Agency consider that these powers are essential to enable the Agency to respond in a timely and appropriate manner in situations where a participant may not, or may not be able to, make the request for a variation,” the NDIS agency said in it’s submission to the Senate.
Further, it said that the plan is consistent with the CEO’s current powers, with the difference being that “it offers a simpler and faster process for smaller changes to be made.”
“People with a disability have a lifetime disability, yet the government’s saying they won’t give them lifetime support,” Shorten told reporters, adding that Labor would oppose the proposed legislation unless substantial changes are made.