In a surprise move which left many media outlets red-faced, Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced that legislation to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through a Medicare levy would not be presented to Parliament until after the September election.
The proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme will give all Australians under the age of 65 the peace of mind to know that, if they have or acquire a disability which leaves them needing daily assistance with everyday life, or if they care for someone who has a disability, they will be supported.
In an interview yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott expressed his disappointment about the Prime Minister’s announcement to take the NDIS to the next election, as the Coalition would support the levy so long as Labor could prove that the scheme was responsibly funded for the full amount.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded by saying “if the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to support this half-a-per-cent increase in the Medicare levy to fund disability care, then I will bring the legislation into the Parliament immediately.”
Mr Abbott has promised to announce his intentions on this today.
The NDIS legislation was passed through the Parliament earlier this year and it was clear that those aged 65 and older were simply forgotten.
Those who sustain an injury or illness which leaves them with a disability after the age of 65 are simply not eligible to be covered by the scheme, while those who suffer a disability before the age of 65 are still covered by the scheme into their later years of life.
An exact quote from the NDIS website says the scheme ‘will give all Australians the peace of mind to know that if they have or acquire a disability…’. All Australians. One can only conclude that once you turn 65 you are no longer classified as an Australian or that no one lives past this age. Both are, of course, untrue, just like the information on the NDIS website.
There is no doubt in my mind that the scheme will improve the quality of life for those suffering a disability and those caring for someone with a disability. But for the sake of an extra couple of billion, forsaking those over the age of 65 is unjust.
In 2011, the current Federal Government appointed Susan Ryan as the Age Discrimination Commissioner who, in her full-time role, is dedicated to advocating for the rights of older Australians. Unfortunately, Ms Ryan was nowhere to be seen in the lead up to the legislation being passed.
Australian policy makers continue to show a lack of respect for those over 65. The NDIS is another policy aimed at achieving great things which has ended up discriminating against many.
Do important changes need to be made to the NDIS to include those over the age of 65 before funding commences?