SUBJECTS: NDIS Provider Taskforce, housing accessibility; Barnaby Joyce
SABRA LANE, HOST: In the future, anyone delivering services under the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, will have to be registered with the Federal Government. Today, the Government's announcing it’s setting up a taskforce to design that Scheme. It was one of the recommendations to come out of last year's review of the NDIS. Bill Shorten is the Minister responsible. Bill Shorten, this is a big change. The review recommended it. Why does the Government want everyone registered?
BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Well, first of all, the NDIS is here to stay under Labor. We want to make sure every dollar gets through to the people for whom this scheme was designed. One of the challenges in the Scheme is to make sure that we're getting quality outcomes for participants. As of the end of last financial year, there were about 16,000 plus registered service providers, but about 154,000 unregistered providers, that included businesses and workers. We want to make sure that the current system for registration is actually fit for purpose, which I don't believe it is at the moment. So, I've got some of the best and brightest people together to talk with the disability sector and the broader community about how we make sure that we have a risk proportionate registration system, which creates accountability, but also quality.
LANE: Risk proportionate, what does it actually mean?
SHORTEN: Well, what it means is that I get that the current registration system for plenty of service providers seems to be too much red tape. I also understand that when you get an NDIS service, some of them are very complicated and require a high level of quality and clinical governance, but others far less so. So what we want to do is make sure that we've got a system where we know what's going on, where we've got a clear line of sight on all people delivering services, but that if you're cutting someone's grass or providing very simple taxi services, that's not the same as someone who might be engaging in a behavioural support management for someone with high physical or other needs.
LANE: The Scheme is costing billions more than forecast. Will this approach help rein that in, as well as crack down on those who simply focused on rorting the system?
SHORTEN: Underpinning my and the Government's approach to the NDIS is, we want to make sure that the Scheme operates in the best interests of participants. The job of the Scheme is not to create millionaires out of some service providers. So, I think that when you put the best interests of the participant first, you also then start to get a Scheme which is more reasonable in cost because it's actually focusing on the outcome for the participant, not the financial bottom line of certain service providers.
LANE: To some other political issues of the day, the Greens want changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions in exchange for support on another housing policy. You once argued for those changes as well, but Labor ditched the policy after two election failures. Are these policies now the sacred cow of Australian politics? The major parties are loathe to tinker with them because they fear the electoral backlash from landlords rather than aspirational voters.
SHORTEN: Well, you're right, we did take policies to the 2016 and 2019 election, and it's clear since then that Labor has decided to try other methods and mechanisms to support people being able to access housing. To the absolute best of my knowledge, it's not something that the current government's been working on or focused on or thinking about. I think even the most reasonable critic of Labor would agree that we've got a full book with our changes to the income tax scales, to give all Australians a bigger tax cut. We've got the reforms to the petroleum rent reserve tax, super concessions, multinational tax reform, tax compliance and of course, our changes with tobacco. I think the sweet spot for housing reform is increasing supply. And that's what Labor's working on.
LANE: And if I could, Barnaby Joyce. If a Labor MP had been filmed on their back in a public street, would they still have a job as a Minister this morning?
SHORTEN: Well, it wasn't - I won't deal with hypotheticals. I've just seen the footage very briefly. I think Mr. Joyce needs support. He doesn't need - he certainly doesn't need a Labor politician piling in in a partisan manner. I don't know what's happened there. I'm not about to join in on any sort of lynch mob. About what's happened and what hasn't. I think he needs support. That's what he's seeking.
LANE: Mr Shorten, thanks for joining AM this morning.
SHORTEN: Thank you, Sabra.
LANE: Bill Shorten is the Federal Minister for the NDIS.