NDIS 'reboot' another broken Labor promise

Providers, managers or recipients who commit fraud against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) should be heavily fined and never allowed to be involved in the scheme again. 

In a press release issued this week, One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson said that until the government cracked down on NDIS fraud, the scheme would struggle for sustainability and community support. 

There’s a lot of goodwill among Australians for supporting people who live with a disability, but that support is at great risk while Labor allows NDIS funding to be used for things like illicit drug purchases, new cars and over-priced holidays,” Senator Hanson said. 

Revelations in Senate estimates that up to 90% of NDIS plan managers had ‘significant indicators of fraud’ and up to $2 billion in taxpayer funding was being spent on cars, holidays and illicit drugs demand immediate, strong action that will never come from such a pathetically weak Labor government. 

Thanks to a concerned member of the public I have learned about a 12-day NDIS-funded holiday to Queensland that cost taxpayers more than $26,000 for just two people – a child with mild autism and their carer. This is not what Australians signed up for. 

Holidays shouldn’t be eligible for NDIS funding at all. Neither should people with mild autism – diagnoses of autism have skyrocketed in recent years, from three in 100,000 children in the 1980s to three in 100 today, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report in March this year. Parents are shopping for doctors who will diagnose their children autistic just so they can become eligible for the NDIS. This has to stop. We have schools that cater to children with learning difficulties and special needs like autism. That’s where these kids belong, not on the NDIS. 

We know about providers integrating unnecessary or bogus therapies into NDIS plans. We know about NDIS funding being used to pay for sex workers and cooking classes. We know that a convicted criminal, upon release from prison, went immediately on a NDIS package of more than $800,000 just so he could have someone accompany him to go shopping. 

We know that eligibility for NDIS isn’t means-tested. We know that pay rates for health workers under the NDIS are in many cases three times higher than for similar work in other sectors like aged care. 

All of this useless, wasteful spending goes on with virtually no scrutiny or assessment. It must stop, or the projections that NDIS spending will blow out to $90 billion within a decade will come true. 

“We need to bring NDIS pay rates back to parity with other health sectors. We must ensure eligibility for the NDIS is means tested. We must tighten eligibility altogether so we can ensure only people who truly need disability care are getting it. 

The National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA’s) fraud and compliance branch must be substantially strengthened. Where there is rorting of $5000 or more, perpetrators must be heavily fined and permanently banned from future involvement in the NDIS. 

Last year Labor promised Australians a ‘reboot’ of the NDIS. Last year Labor told Australians total funding for the NDIS in 2023-24 would be $41.9 billion. According to the Budget handed down last month, this has blown out to $44.3 billion. So much for Labor’s ‘reboot’. It’s just another broken promise to add to Labor’s growing list of broken promises. 

Even more disturbing is Bill Shorten’s admission that the problems with the NDIS were ‘worse than he thought’. He’s been the NDIS minister for two years and this rorting has gone on right under his nose. I shudder to think about how much was rorted under nine years of Coalition government.  

“One Nation supports the NDIS in principle. These principles include support for people living with a disability who really need it, and only for what they really need. Anything else is a luxury this country’s taxpayers can’t afford, and shouldn’t be paying for anyway. Following this principle is the only way to ensure the NDIS remains sustainable and continues to have the goodwill of Australian taxpayers.”