Shorten demands full rollout of NDIS

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has used a Labor Party state conference in Brisbane to demand a complete and on-time rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


It “beggared belief” that the Abbott government was yet to announce a launch site for the scheme in Queensland, which was home to 96,000 people with profound or severe disabilities, Mr Shorten said.

“We should use this conference to demand that Mr Abbott promise, with Australia as his witness, the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on time,” he told the party faithful.

“No cuts, no delays, no more lies.”

Budget papers show $37 billion will be spent over four years to cover about 400,000 people eligible for care, making it one of the most expensive single items of service in the federal budget.

Earlier this month, disability advocates vowed to unleash a major campaign against the Abbott government amid reports cabinet’s razor gang had earmarked the NDIS for consideration.

Mr Shorten said the Abbott government is “missing in action” on the NDIS, while spreading misinformation about it.

“When you open a paper you see a liberal minister talking down the NDIS … you see a Liberal cabinet leak spreading misinformation about costs and funding,” he said.

Mr Abbott had promised to conclude its NDIS agreements with the state and territories by Monday, he said.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Shorten labelled Operation Fortitude as a “shambolic debacle” and criticised the federal government for not doing enough to address high youth unemployment rates in Queensland.

He also spoke about his fears for Australian jobs under the proposed China free trade agreement.

The conference, which winds up on Sunday, is the first time delegates have met since Annastacia Palaszczuk led them to victory in January.

Mr Shorten described Ms Palaszczuk as a “remarkable woman” of Queensland and paid tribute former Queensland premier Wayne Goss, who died of a brain tumour in November.