Govt, Labor debate NDIS board revamp

Govt, Labor debate NDIS board revamp

The federal government insists it will leave the national disability insurance scheme standing the test of time as it moves to have fresh faces leading it.

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But Labor says the unexpected move to revamp the board nine months before members’ terms expire has incensed the public.

“People with a disability and their families are furious about this,” opposition disability spokeswoman Jenny Macklin told AAP on Wednesday.

Ms Macklin says the new board must know what it’s like to live with a disability in order to have an effective scheme.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations shares those concerns, criticising the early board recruitment and saying lived experience was crucial to the good governance of the scheme.

The ads seek previous corporate experience and work in disability services.

Ms Macklin said the NDIS was running on budget and on time and there was no reason to change an effective board.

“Yes, (the scheme) must be delivered in an efficient and effective way, but it has to be delivered to meet the needs of people with disability,” she said.

But the government says the scheme is vast and complex and needs the best managers to oversee 460,000 people getting care packages by 2019.

Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield made no apologies for the recruitment exercise.

“We wanted to make sure that we have, in the next iteration for the board, people with the right skills set in combination for the transition phase,” he told parliament.

He criticised Labor for claiming the scheme was fully funded, saying $5 billion was unaccounted for by Labor.

“Only a coalition government can deliver a scheme that stands the tests of time.”

Senator Fifield said talks with the states on rollout agreements were “very close to conclusion”.

But disability advocates are demanding the agreements, which were due to be finalised last month, be signed.

Every Australian Counts has launched an online campaign asking supporters to email their state disability ministers calling for NDIS rollout plans to be released.