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Minister scathing of NDIS underspend

IN GRAFTON to talk to key stakeholders, shadow social services minister Linda Burney was scathing of the current government's approach to the NDIS.

"A quarter of their (the Government) planned $7bn surplus is built on the back of a planned underspend in the NDIS," Ms Burney said.

"We know there are about 77,000 people in Australia at the moment who have a disability and who are not getting a service.

"Now that is cynical politics."

Lifting the NDIA staffing cap was a key part of Labor policy on the scheme and Ms Burneysaid this would mean staff in the organisation would more than double.

"The organisation will go from about 3000 workers to nine or ten thousand workers and I think that will have an enormously important effect in terms of dealing with the backlog," she said.

However, Nationals candidate for Page, Kevin Hogan, was unequivocal in saying "not one cent" would be cut from the NDIS and investment in the system had grown from $13.3 billion in 2018-19 to almost $18 billion in 2019-20.

"Every Australian with disability who is eligible will continue to receive a fully funded plan of reasonable and necessary supports to achieve their goals," Mr Hogan said.

"We continue to roll out improvements to better support NDIS participants, their families and carers.

"Improvements like a new participant pathway, with face-to-face planning (where preferred), a single point of contact, easier to read plans and documentation and improved training for NDIA staff."

Independent candidate for Page Fiona Leviny saw merit in a more fluid funding model but also understood where Labor came down of the issue and said it came down to trust.

"If you believe Scott Morrison, it is a good way of dealing with it, if there are greater needs those needs will be fulfilled," she said.

"But aspects of the system are not working because there are not enough people who are trained to provide the services."

Labor candidate for Page, Patrick Deegan, said the forums were a valuable way for himself and Ms Burney to talk to people in the community about solutions to problems in the system.

"I think most people were very grateful to be able to hear from Linda about her plans if elected into Government," Mr Deegan said.