Labor using NDIS and Medicare levy 'to play politics', disability groups say
Disability groups have warned Labor it would be a shame to create a political fight over the Turnbull government’s plan to increase the Medicare levy to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In his budget reply speech, Bill Shorten said Labor would only support the 0.5% increase to the Medicare levy for people with incomes over $87,000.
Under the Turnbull government’s proposal, a single person would start paying the higher levy at $21,000 and a family would pay when income reaches just under $40,000. The money would be put into a special account to fund the NDIS.
The chief executive of the Disability Advocacy Network Australia, Mary Mallett, said the Medicare levy was already paid as a proportion of income and political games would not help the scheme as it moved towards the full roll out in 2018-19.
“There is good political support for the NDIS because most of population understand this is an insurance scheme which can apply to everybody,” Mallett told Guardian Australia.
“It doesn’t seem that people object to contributing. Labor is trying to make a point of difference and I understand the income levels fit with their agenda but the Medicare levy is paid as a proportion of income.
“It is a shame that there may be a political fight, especially given Labor were so instrumental to the scheme.”
Mallett said the bipartisanship over the Gillard’s government’s establishment of the NDIS in 2013 with a Medicare levy increase of 0.5% was an amazing achievement. Likewise, she said disability groups were heartened to see such a strong message of funding support in last Tuesday’s budget.
“Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull were out early the day after the budget, strongly supporting the NDIS and this funding mechanism,” Mallett said.
“It was unusually pleasing that they were building credibility around the funding because people with disabilities are often forgotten at budgets but we are slightly less pleased that Labor is using it as an opportunity to play politics.”
The CEO of National Disability Services, Ken Baker, said the rise in the levy to secure full funding was a “neat solution” and people with disabilities and advocates were keen to lock in a funding stream not jeopardised by the vicissitudes of politics.
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