Interview with Keiran Gilbert, Afternoon Agenda, Sky News

E&OE

Kieran Gilbert:
Joining me now is the Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert. This is a really unusual story, explain to us how the service was in there in the first place and what sort of reaction are you getting from the state jurisdictions?

Minister Robert:
It's a strange quirk, Keiran. When the law was built, what was defined as reasonable and necessary supports for what are now 420,000 fabulous Australians with disability that are receiving just life changing support, we're all so proud of what those 420,000 Australians are doing, but because reasonable and necessary supports weren't defined, the Federal Court has now ruled that the provision of sexual services, prostitutes if you like, would not be precluded from that, that case was brought forward to it.

Now we don't believe that that's in the spirit of what the Australian people are funding the NDIS through their taxes. If you wish to use services such as that, Australians are free to do that, but to use their own money, either through their disability support pension, or their own employment. So we'll seek now to define reasonable necessary so that sex services aren't included. I have sought the assistance of the states and territories, the ACT has said that they will not assist us, and I need unanimity under the law, so therefore I have no choice now but to legislate.

Kieran Gilbert:
So to put legislation through the parliament.

Minister Robert:
That's right.

Kieran Gilbert:
That legal case that you referred to, was in relation to a woman in her 40's with MS. And it was judged that sex therapy was reasonable within that cost, within the NDIS, is there, but you're saying, look, that is that's fine, that people can use their own funds, whether it be through the pension or other revenue that they've got to pay for those things.

Minister Robert:
That's right, the court case in question the lady was procuring sexual services through her own means through her disability support pension, I believe, but went through the AAT to say hey, this should be a support covered by taxpayers in the NDIS the AAT, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld that the Agency went to the federal court the Federal Court said, well, the law doesn't say it can't, ipso facto, it can.

Kieran Gilbert:
So what's the ACT's argument, in terms of this, are they saying that people with disabilities should be afforded that sort of therapy?

Minister Robert:
Well I've written to all the states and territories and I've asked them please explain to me where you funded prostitution services in the past when you the states ran disability services for the last century, and I've heard crickets… they haven't responded.

I've also asked them to assist me to change the rules, a legislative instrument if you like. Again, all the states and territories have been silent except the ACT, and the Chief Minister has written back personally to say no, he believes that prostitution services should be included.

Now the federal government doesn't, we don't believe the Australian people think that's a good use of taxpayer's money.

Kieran Gilbert:
Let's look at another area that you're focusing on at the moment, this idea of the digital identity for all Australians and you're also looking at a Data Sharing and Transparency Bill. Explain in simple terms, if you can, what you're looking at doing there because I think that there'd be some viewers, some Australians who would be wondering what protections would be in place for this digital identity. If it's shared across the board in terms of their privacy for example.

Minister Robert:
Right now, two million Australians have myGovID, which is a digital identity, a national first. Now I'm building up, on behalf of the government, a federated model a trusted digital identity framework. We'll have another Act through the parliament, this year all going well, that allows other digital identities to be created so DigiID from Australia Post, Eftpos is interested, so is Pharmacy for PharmacyID, that the idea of replicating 100 point check in paper form, like you do now at a bank or a telco, but doing that digitally with absolute and utter assurance, and you can get a PharmacyID and you'll be able to use that seamlessly for Government. We want to provide an easy access for services so Australians can just go, literally, to one place in government and access the federal government services they need.

Unfortunately, since Federation has been about 500 impediments to data sharing all of it well meaning, but now it stops us using data. For example, I can't use Medicare data to assist you with a simple inquiry. I can't use disability data for a disability support payment to help you get on the NDIS.

Kieran Gilbert:
You've got to go through all those forms and do it all again, so what protection is there done in terms of that data sharing that it's not used against you and law enforcement or whatever else is there?

Minister Robert:
Again we will bring a bill to the parliament, that will allow the use of data about a citizen to be used only for service delivery and I'll specifically deny the use for law enforcement or compliance. That way if you tell us once you won't have to fill in a multiple forms, because we'll have your data once.

Kieran Gilbert:
Minister, I appreciate your time talk to you soon.

Minister Robert:
Anytime.