PM defends government support for NDIS
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended government support for the NDIS, after the minister responsible for the scheme indicated it was not intended to be used as welfare.
In an interview with The Australian newspaper, NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds called for states and territories to take more financial responsibility for the scheme.
However, Senator Reynolds came under attack by the opposition after she said the scheme wasn't set up to cover every Australian with a disability.
"Participants or their families see the NDIS increasingly as what's been described as an 'oasis in the desert'," she said.
The prime minister said he did not believe the NDIS was welfare and backed the scheme.
"I do believe the NDIS is provided to ensure people with permanent disability have... the same opportunities as other Australians do," Mr Morrison told parliament on Thursday.
"I have been a supporter of this initiative from the outset."
It comes as the government tries to enact legislation that would allow the scheme's chief executive to change the plans of recipients without needing their permission.
Senator Reynolds said the new powers for the chief executive of the NDIS had been amended to make sure they were only able to be used in a crisis or if emergency funding was needed.
Mr Morrison said while the NDIS was a "demanding scheme" financially, the government was aiming to run it efficiently.
"We need to ensure it isn't subject to any form of abuse," he said.
"By protecting it against abuse, we're protecting the people who it's intended to support."
The Australian Council of Social Service said it was concerned the long-term sustainability of the NDIS was at risk.
The council's acting chief executive Edwina MacDonald said it was critical the NDIS not be subject to cost cutting.
"All parties should be working to expand access to the scheme and at the very least, ensure people with disability can equitably and reliably access suitable supports," she said.
Opposition NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten lashed out the remarks from Senator Reynolds.
"I think the federal government within the shadow of an election has somewhat bizarrely declared war on the National Disability Insurance Scheme," he told reporters in Canberra.
"On one hand (the government) says the states aren't doing enough, but on the other hand, in 2019, they signed funding arrangements with the states with the existing funding mechanisms in place."