SUBJECTS: Housing Australia Future Fund; NDIS funding for autism; NDIS Review; Angus Brayshaw concussion

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well, let's go live to Cameron now, joining us live as the NDIS and Government Services Minister and Collingwood fan, Bill Shorten. Bill, good to see you. I will get your thoughts on the tribunal a little later on. But first you've got a much-needed win on the housing front. There are concerns this morning though, on supply chains that will eventually slow down builds. Are you concerned about that?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Supply chains have been an issue in the Australian economy for a period of time, but the good news is that the Parliament is working. Julie Collins, our Housing Minister, and the Government have struck a good outcome with the Greens and with the support of the Jacqui Lambie Network and Independent Senator David Pocock. The good news is that it's going to be greater investment in building new social housing and supporting public housing. So, this is how politics is meant to work. It's been a longer process than we initially hoped, but I think we've arrived at a good place to improve supply of housing in this country.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. On to the NDIS. Advocates say that children with autism are about to be thrown under the bus and have services cut after a review of the scheme that's still underway. Do they have reason to be alarmed?

SHORTEN: No, the review is still underway. The scheme is supported. The NDIS is here to stay. We just want to make sure that every dollar is getting through to the participants for whom it was designed. Nearly half the people on the scheme of 600,000 participants are kids. Early intervention has been proven to work, so we'll be investing in early intervention and the review is going to look at the best way to deliver services.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, you just pointed out there, the fastest growing cohort within the NDIS. There are concerns, though, that mainstream services at state and local levels are not there though, and they can't be built in, you know, 2- or 3-years’ time. Are they correct?

SHORTEN: I think we do need to have more support outside the NDIS for early intervention strategies, but I'm confident the review will provide directions. But there'll be a long runway and what we want to do is make sure kids are getting help. Understand that's where I'm coming from. If a child has got a diagnosis of a developmental or learning delay, we want to support them. We want to find the best way to support them. I, as the junior Minister when we first introduced, helping children with autism package about 13 years ago and this scheme is changing lives. It's an investment, I would say to some of the people who are worried that somehow, it's all going to be tipped on its head, don't. This is a review which has heard from, has had thousands of submissions. I and the reviewers have met literally tens of thousands of people on the scheme. We'll get this right and it'll be done co-designed with people with disability.

STEFANOVIC: But when services are going to be cut, I mean that obviously means someone's going to lose, right? The service is going to be cut somewhere because it's costing too much.

SHORTEN: I didn't say services would be cut.

STEFANOVIC: So, no services at all are going to be cut to rein in spending.

SHORTEN: Well, again, I think that the scheme can be run better, I think –

STEFANOVIC: But what does that mean?

SHORTEN: there’s waste in the scheme – well, I'll tell you. First of all, I think that the scheme's got some design problems. People have annual plans when in fact, if you're blind or in a wheelchair for life, you shouldn't have such short-term plans. So that'll take some of the cost out of the scheme. I think there are some service providers who are overservicing or overcharging. I'm confident that we can find a way of supporting people with disability. But the NDIS shouldn't be the only life raft in the ocean. So, I actually think if the scheme is run with attention to detail, with investment in the capability of the people who work in it, with attention to the prices that are being charged, making sure that what is being charged actually delivers outcomes as opposed to just wasting people's time, I've got no doubt we can moderate the trajectory of growth. The scheme will grow each year, but I think we can achieve a targeted growth of 8%, not some of the current growth rates. This scheme was neglected, really, for nine years, hasn't been properly managed. It takes a while to turn it around. And I'd just say to participants on the scheme and their families, I get the scheme is changing lives. I think your kids are worth supporting. I just want to make sure they're getting the effective evidence-based support and not just any old thing and not being overcharged.

STEFANOVIC: Finally, with -

SHORTEN: Did you know for example Peter, that – okay.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, just finish up your point there. Sorry.

SHORTEN: Sorry. No, no. I mean, this is, this is my sort of ten second, you know, story of passion. But when people come along to some providers and say they have an NDIS package, the price of the service goes up.


SHORTEN: If we can eliminate that sort of wedding tax, that will help reduce the cost of the scheme.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, let's end with your Collingwood hat on. Should Brayden Maynard be suspended or is he getting a rough deal at the moment?

SHORTEN: Oh, politicians should stay out of sport in terms of that thing. But when you look at the play, I genuinely thought, the guy’s, he's propelling himself through the air, he can't just go from fifth gear and slam on the brakes. The footballer who - I feel for Angus Brayshaw, that's obviously very bad, to have that injury. But the fellow in question seems to have a pretty good reputation around the place of being a fair player. And when you look at it, I don't know when you're a couple of feet off the air and moving, moving through to try and intercept the player, you can't just sort of magically put on a set of retro jets and stop yourself.

STEFANOVIC: No, he's got momentum. No, I agree with you. I'm not a Collingwood fan. I support the Lions. But I think it would be harsh, it would be harsh if he gets a suspension there because yeah, look, he's coming down, and her can’t -

SHORTEN: That’s up to the tribunal.

STEFANOVIC: He can't stop there, as you say.

SHORTEN: I’m not commenting on the issue. I don't want to put any - politicians should stay out of it. We'll leave it to the tribunal. But go Pies.

STEFANOVIC: Good to see you, Bill. We'll talk to you again soon.

SHORTEN: Bye, mate.