There's no way I'd want to second this motion. Once again, we're living in this Orwellian world where the government somehow thinks it should be congratulated for the mess that it's created with the NDIS. The member who spoke before me, the member for Hughes, wanted a pat on the back for this interim plan—he is leaving the chamber now. This is how the plan was welcomed by the sector:
Disability advocates say the Morrison government's new plan to reduce lengthy delays in the national disability insurance scheme should only be a stopgap measure.
So for all the fanfare and all the carry-on by this minister, we are seeing advocates—the people who represent people with disability—say it's a stopgap measure. You bet it is. We would not be congratulating the government for the mess that they have created in rolling out the NDIS.
There is no doubt that the NDIS was a landmark initiative for this country. It was developed and introduced by a Labor government. Sadly, it's been neglected by three successive coalition governments who have, among other things, played political football with NDIA funding; placed on it a stifling staff cap, restricting the ability of the NDIS to service Australians; and, most recently, underspent on the NDIS claiming 'a lack of demand'.
The member for Hughes has good intentions in putting forward this motion, but he said, in his own words: 'There are teething problems. There have been some challenges with the roll out.' Is he kidding? Through you, Deputy Speaker Gillespie, are you kidding me? He should take a good look at the government he is a member of, because that's exactly where the problem lies. There is no shortage of residents in my community telling me on a weekly basis just how much of a debacle the NDIS has become under this government, and the people who suffer the most are the people who need the most help.
A fortnight ago I sat on the couch in the living room of a mother whose son suffers from several disabilities and severe behavioural and learning challenges. Not long into the conversation, she broke down in tears at the frustration and challenges she has faced, trying desperately to get the help her son and her family needs. This is not good enough. I felt almost helpless as I listened to her heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching story about how much she loved both her sons but had struggled to find the help she needed through the NDIS. She told me of the endless paperwork trails, the lack of accountability and transparency and the constant changing of the people she had to talk to just to find the simplest of answers. In the days following, she sent me a list of other problems she'd encountered, including funding being cut without any explanation to families, portals not showing breakdowns of funding allocations and no explanation of how the funds were calculated, and a severe lack of training for NDIS staff to understand her situation and her needs.
Just last week, my office received a visit from two other local residents who shared similar experiences with the NDIS. Their feedback included the exploitation by companies and service providers who dramatically increased prices to people on NDIS plans and a lack of transparency in understanding the practices and procedures of the NDIS to help their disabled sons. This sort of feedback is being received by every single member of parliament. I have no doubt that all members—everyone—on this side and the government side are hearing this. I welcome the announcement by the government and the minister of a 'stopgap' plan to resolve delays and backlogs for children with disability in accessing ECEI, or Early Childhood Early Intervention, support through the NDIS, but this is too little too late. Reports say that on average it currently takes 127 days for a child to receive a plan. That is more than four months. Most parents don't have four months to wait for the support they need.
Once again, it is left to Labor to show the leadership required in this space. That is why the first thing I did upon being re-elected as the member for Oxley was to hold an NDIS feedback forum with the newly appointed shadow minister, the Hon. Bill Shorten, to hear residents firsthand about what the concerns are. We could have held this forum over several days, so much was the feedback from residents. Following this, I wrote to the member for Fadden, the minister responsible for the NDIS, seeking a meeting to table this feedback and work in constructive ways to solve the many problems I had. But I have not had a response from the minister. If a member of parliament is writing to the minister responsible and they're ignored, what on earth is happening out in the sector? It is not good enough. I want to meet with the minister and put those concerns directly. If they want to fob me off to a departmental officer or even a ministerial staff member, I'll take anything. I know the minister's office will be listening to this speech today. Listen clearly: people want to meet with your office to ring the alarm bells and raise the concerns. Pick up the phone and start listening to people. It's not good enough that when members of parliament raise these issues they're completely and utterly ignored by this government.