August 02, 2012
"Recognising that those assumptions weren't costed properly in the first place, (we) needed to sit down and come to (an) agreement" ... Andrew Constance. Photo: Phil Hearne
The commonwealth got its maths wrong when it asked NSW to chip in another $70 million to secure a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), state Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance says.
An agreement was finally reached on Wednesday afternoon for a trial of the scheme in the NSW Hunter region from July 2013 that will give 10,000 people a taste of the NDIS.
But Mr Constance says the past week of "round-the-clock" negotiations might have been avoided if the states and federal government had been working off the same numbers from the start.
At last week's Council of Australian Governments meeting, NSW was told it would need to put $70 million towards a Hunter trial in addition to the $550 million the state already committed to services in the region, in order to access $300 million of federal funding.
On Friday the state offered an extra $35 million compromise, but failed to secure a deal.
Yet by Wednesday afternoon, with no new money on the table and no change in the number of NSW participants, the two governments announced the NSW trial would go ahead.
"The $70 million figure I daresay wasn't correct," Mr Constance told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
"Recognising that those assumptions weren't costed properly in the first place, (we) needed to sit down and come to (an) agreement."
Costings quibbles aside, Mr Constance lauded the agreement as a bipartisan show of humanity.
"You test the heart of a nation when it comes to their treatment of people with disabilities," he said.
National Disability Services manager for NSW Scott Holz said it was crucial to have a large site included in the NDIS trial.
"I've often heard it quoted in the press that the NDIS is an idea whose time has come, and finally we can say to people the NDIS is coming," he said.