The election campaign’s cost-of-living debate is missing serious questions about the NDIS

Home Health The election campaign’s cost-of-living debate is missing serious questions about the NDIS
The election campaign’s cost-of-living debate is missing serious questions about the NDIS

Go to the website of Australia’s Productivity Commission and look for the link to the Commission’s 2017 report on the costs of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The overview of the 533-page report alone takes 48 pages. Also on the website page is a note in quite small print saying: “There has not been a government response to this study yet.”

The election campaign this week has pivoted back to the economy and the cost of living, with the release of the quarterly inflation numbers. But the campaign debate about the cost of living is a gnarled little thing: the government running around saying it’s not their fault, the opposition saying it is.

Most of the contributing factors to the inflation surge are, indeed, beyond the influence of any government.

Governments used to control — or at least influence — a lot more: interest rates, wages and other prices and markets via things like tariffs and quotas. 

Loading

Deregulation has robbed politicians of their capacity to run most parts of the economy these days — which many might see as a cause for celebration.

But they are not bystanders in all markets, nor all policies. Yet in the very areas where governments do actually exert influence, they seem incapable of acting to fix problems.

Services to the disabled is a classic example. For the group of people needing those services — estimated by the Productivity Commission in 2017 at 4.3 million people (yes, you read that right) — there is no more compelling cost of living question than what happens to the NDIS.

A glass office building with the purple NDIS sign out the front.
The NDIS is a microcosm of so much that is wrong with the way we deliver services across the care economy.(ABC News: Nicole Mills)

The NDIS has become the oasis in the desert

The NDIS — and the significant cost blowouts it faces — have now become a cause celebre for a range of people who like nothing more than signs that governments can’t do anything right.

There’s plenty of evidence that there’s lots that governments can’t do right. And the blowout in the costs of the NDIS are indeed substantial.

The cost blowout is simplified down to being problems of governance; problems of transparency; problems of “too many people” joining the scheme (implicit suggestion that people are somehow freeloading); and/or the argument that the whole underlying idea of an “insurance based” approach it takes is just too ambitious and wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.