National Disability Insurance Scheme Funding

Through you, Mr Deputy President, what I think is a disgrace is that the Australian Labor Party are abusing the vulnerabilities of parents of children with disabilities to say things that are simply not true. There is a disability loading right now.

Senator O'Neill: "Defend your policy."

Senator O'Neill, I have actually been to a school in the last couple of months. I am sure you have too, but you did not refer to any evidence on the ground in your contribution. I went to one in Bundaberg during the state election campaign with the state member, Stephen Bennett. During 2014 that school received hundreds of thousands dollars more to provide more disability services. That was rolled out through what we here call Gonski, but in Queensland I think they call it the Better Schools program. It was focused on providing disabled students with more services, more resources and more teacher time. That amounted to $1.2 billion this year alone in funding for disabled students. Is that enough? I do not know. Perhaps we always need more money to help disabled children. But, Senator O'Neill, what I have a problem with is that we had a bipartisan agreement to do more on the NDIS and to put more money—

Senator O'Neill:  "We had a unity ticket on Gonski."

And you on that side do not want to contribute and do not want to cooperate on something that we all agree must happen. You just want to play politics. You want to play politics with people's lives and disabled children's lives, and I find that disgraceful. I find it absolutely disgraceful, because this year we are providing $1.2 billion more, and that is funding more services. I am sure more can be done, but when I hear the arguments from the other side I am reminded of my kids.

My kids are just like the Labor Party—they want everything. They want to eat lollies for afternoon tea; they want to play computer games all night. When I go home, I am going to build a new computer with my son, and he will want to play computer games all weekend. I am going to have a monumental battle with him when I tell him: 'No, you can only play four hours at a time. You have to do your homework and other things as well.' That is what responsible people do. They say: 'Yes, you can have fun every now and again. Yes, you can have a few sweets every now and again, but you also have to worry about your weight. You also have to study for your future and put away for a rainy day.'

But the Labor Party does not think like that; they act like kids in this place. They want to have everything. They want to have more money to spend on services for disabled children—a noble cause—but we do not have an unlimited amount of money. They want to spend more money on the NDIS. We heard Senator Singh say they want more money for foreign aid. How are they going to fund all of this? The reason we have had to make some tough decisions—

Senator Lines:  "You're funding it through cutting pensions."


The reason we have had to make those tough decisions is because you guys wasted all the money. You spent billions and billions of dollars on things we could not afford and now we do not have money in the bank to do all the things we would like to do.

Senator O'Neill:  "It's never been lower. It's a national shame."

Senator O'Neill, you are complaining about cuts to the foreign aid, but that is exactly what you did in your last budget—it may have been in your second last budget, 2012-13. You cut $2.9 billion from the foreign aid budget in that year and now you come in here, with no sign of hypocrisy, and sanctimoniously say, 'Oh, isn't it terrible that we're not spending more money on foreign aid.' You did it! You did it two years ago. It is unfortunate that we cannot give more money to the people overseas who need it, but we cannot give it because of the spending decisions you made when you were in government. You wasted billions and billions of dollars. We heard in question time from Senator Cash that in just one area we wasted $11 billion on processing offshore arrivals—a problem that was created entirely by the policies of the Australian Labor Party.

Wouldn't it have been nice to have had $11 billion to spend on services for disabled children? Wouldn't it have been nice to not have to cut our foreign aid budget as much as we have had to do if we had had that $11 billion? But you did that. And we cannot get that money back now; we have to pay it back. We have to pay it back to those overseas whom we borrowed money from—to the Chinese government, to oil barons in the Middle East. That is who we borrowed money from. All that money that you wasted has to be repaid now. Unfortunately, that means that we cannot fund all of the things that we would like to do, including in the disabled space, the health space and the education space.

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