PRIME MINISTER: Thank you all so much for coming and everyone who has joined us today. It’s great to be here with Bridget and Gavin, obviously the local members here in Northern Tassie. It’s great to back in Northern Tasmania once again - I’m making quite a habit of it. But it’s a good habit, and a habit I intend to keep. Of course, we have Stuart Robert who is the Minister for the NDIS here today, as well as the Acting CEO of the NDIS.
The purpose of today, and I started these consultations soon after the election. We had our first one out in Penrith in Western Sydney. There is a formal process that the NDIS is going through to ensure that we’re doing the job better, and Stuart is leading that as the Minister. And so this is in place with all of those other formal processes that we have and we are engaging with the NDIS organisation, the NDIA and others.
What this is simply about is, particularly for me as the Prime Minister together with my local members, is having the opportunity for a pretty candid discussion about how things are going. The positives, things we need to work more on, and that provides a bit of a backstop, if you like. So when the briefs and submissions and formal processes come up to Cabinet that I have the benefit of having had direct conversations with people who are directly involved in the scheme. Whether directly as clients or parents or families, and we’ve brought together our youngest clients right through. And so it is a good opportunity for me to get a first-hand hearing of how things are progressing.
So I want to thank you all very much for coming along. I want to thank Bridget and Gavin for their massive interest in what we are doing here. The NDIS is the biggest social institutional reform that this country has undergone for a very, very long time. It’s a huge project, it’s our target to have more than half a million Australians on this scheme in the next five years. But not just on the scheme, but on a scheme that is working for them, on a scheme that is meeting those needs. We’re very conscious of the needs. The challenge in this area is that everybody is different and everybody has a very specific set of needs and we need to build a very large program that gets that and that can deliver on that. And that’s not easy.
So we acknowledge that there is still a lot more work to be done but we have made considerable progress in starting this off. It was started by the previous government, we made sure it is fully funded, the systems are coming together, but we know we’ve still got a long way to go. So that’s why we’re here today. We also know that at a macro level there is a lot of support for the NDIS. At a micro level, there are frustrations, and that’s what we’ve got to get on top of. So we want to continue to leverage what is I think a broad-based, wonderful community support for the NDIS, and learn from the good stories as well as the stories that say we can do better. So with that, I want to thank you all very much for coming and coming with a view to sharing your experiences. The cameras won’t be there for that, but the notes that will be taken today are very much for my benefit, they’re not going into other processes or anything like that. They’re just going to be for me and my office to ensure that I am better informed of what we are doing as are Bridget and Gavin. But Bridget, Gavin, did you want to speak?
BRIDGET ARCHER MP, MEMBER FOR BASS: Yes, I would like to welcome you back to Launceston Prime Minister, and Minister Robert. We have seen you a few times this year and very pleased to see you again. As you have said, the NDIS is very important work, and I am so glad that we have got this opportunity today to bring some of those participants and their families together to hear directly from you about the issues that are important to you, what is working and what is not working. So I am very much looking forward to hearing from you here today.
GAVIN PEARCE MP, MEMBER FOR BRADDON: I echo the welcome as well, it is certainly a great thing that a Prime Minister and a Minister can take the time out of their day and come down to regional Tasmania to see what is really going on. When it comes to regional Tasmania I think we have got our own hurdles, our own obstacles in that regionality. People in my electorate of the north west of Braddon, you know we have got people down in Queenstown, King Island, Circular Head, they don’t necessarily have access to specialists. So that’s another hurdle and another aspect of the system that we need to explore today. So welcome Prime Minister, welcome Minister, and we hope that this will be worthwhile, talking to Scotty, Carolina and Zoe. How are you?
PRIME MINISTER: The wonderful thing about the NDIS is it is not a welfare program, it’s a [inaudible], it’s a program that simply wants to ensure that every Australian, regardless of life circumstances, has the same opportunity to fulfil everything they hope to achieve in life. That’s what it is in a nutshell and that’s what we want it to achieve. So we’re going to do a lot of listening today and going to take a lot away from today. Stuart, was there anything you wanted to mention?
THE HON. STUART ROBERT MP, MINISTER FOR THE NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME: Happy to be here with the CEO Vicki, happy to serve PM.