The story looked at the Federal Government’s announcement that it would be increasing the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent to fund the NDIS after discovering that it lacked $12 billion of the tax revenues it expected to receive.
Ms Vincent is the only MP in Australia – across both State and Federal Governments – who was elected into parliament representing the interests of the disabilities sector. She was therefore the first person I thought to speak to on the NDIS – and she didn’t disappoint.
We spoke about why the NDIS was important for people with disabilities and Australians in general, if there were any problems with the scheme in its current form and why the half a per cent raise in everyone’s Medicare levy to pay for it was justified.
Ms Vincent told me the NDIS was extremely important for both the social and economic future of the country, as an insurance net for anyone who is, or who becomes, disabled, in order to support them enter the workforce (helping out the economy) and complete everyday activities others take for granted. She expressed dismay that some people consider the scheme another tax burden, when it should be considered just another effort to help disadvantaged people in society, and that the most affluent Australians have the largest responsibility to help protect those most vulnerable in the country.
She also admitted there were flaws in the Government’s scheme, the most evident of which was that the levy increase would only fund half of it (a sentiment exploited by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in his response to the announcement).
At the end, we finished our chat by discussing the ethics of calling the scheme, “Disabilitycare”, which Julia Gillard did to help promote the levy increase as being politically synonymous with, or perhaps in the same vein as, Medicare, which Australians are generally supportive of. In other words, by branding the NDIS as Disabilitycare, Gillard is trying to relate the scheme to Medicare in order to make the raise in Medicare payments more palatable to Australians.
Ms Vincent thought this political branding of the levy increase as Disabilitycare helps facilitate the long-held stereotype that disabled people are dependent on other people for help, when in fact they are now more than capable to help themselves and be independent, should they have the resources to be empowered. She is of the belief that people should support people with disabilities, not care for them, a deeply important semantic difference in her mind.
Listen in for the full interview.