Labor is pushing the coalition to ensure there are no budget cuts or delays to the national disability insurance scheme.
Labor is ramping up the pressure on the coalition government to save the national disability insurance scheme from the budget axe.
But the government insists that’s pointless because agreements with the states and territories lock the timetable for the NDIS in place.
The opposition is launching a new public campaign ahead of the government’s first budget to ensure there are no cuts or delays to the NDIS.
The scheme was one of Labor’s signature policies, attracting bipartisan support from the coalition.
The government has committed to delivering the NDIS “in full” but is seeking advice on its timing and cost from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).
Labor disabilities spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said the government, and especially Treasurer Joe Hockey, had talked down the NDIS since coming to power.
“Tony Abbott must ask himself whether he is prepared to look people with disability in the eye and tell them they must continue to wait,” Ms Macklin said.
“This budget is an opportunity for Tony Abbott to stick to his word on the NDIS and pull Joe Hockey into line.”
The “No cuts, no delay” campaign will involve Labor members visiting local disability organisations and encouraging people to call on the Abbott government to keep its NDIS promises.
Disabilities minister Mitch Fifield reiterated the government was committed to the full roll-out and to working “within the existing funding envelope”.
The timelines were set out in agreements and can’t be altered without agreement, he said.
The board of the NDIA would advise on any timeline issues.
“The government is not looking for ways to delay the NDIS – we are looking for ways to deliver it, and deliver it well,” Senator Fifield told AAP.
The decision by the former Labor government to bring forward the start of the scheme by a year had compromised it, he said.
“Labor should stop their scaremongering on the NDIS – people with disability deserve better.”
Trials of the NDIS will have started in all states and territories except Queensland by July.
The NDIS is expected to be fully up and running by 2019 at an estimated cost of $22 billion a year, servicing almost 500,000 Australians with disabilities.