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April 13, 2012

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the Gillard Labor Government needs to allocate the first stage of funding for the establishment of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in next month’s Federal Budget.

Mr Chester has welcomed today’s speech by Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott where he paid tribute to the nation’s carers and confirmed his support for the NDIS as a major national reform.

“When Tony Abbott rode through Gippsland on his bicycle to raise $550,000 for Carers Australia, it was obvious that he shared my passion for the NDIS and the need to overhaul the system of support for people with disabilities,” Mr Chester said.

“His latest comments are an open invitation to all political parties to work together on a national reform that will change lives.”

In his speech at the conclusion of Pollie Pedal 2012, Mr Abbott said the National Disability Insurance Scheme was an idea whose time had come.

“Meeting people with disabilities, and also their carers, at so many points along the ride was a fitting reminder of life’s vagaries and of the duties that the more fortunate owe to the less,” Mr Abbott said.

“The proposed national disability insurance scheme aims to give everyone with a serious disability comparable treatment and assistance to that currently available for people injured at work or on the roads.

“As recommended by the Productivity Commission, this reform will take seven years to implement fully and could cost an additional $6.5 billion a year but it would be nothing short of a new deal for people with disabilities and their carers.

“No one should underestimate the scope of this proposed reform. It involves moving from largely state government-funded and run institutionalised services to privately- provided or community based services tailored to meet individual need.

“This is a massive institutional shift with a massive cost but it has the potential to transform people’s lives and, over time, to allow people with disabilities and their carers to be much bigger contributors to our society.

“The Coalition will do whatever we reasonably can to make it happen as soon as possible and would accept a government invitation to be jointly responsible for this vital national project.”