Monday December 22, 2014
02
May

Newman Lays Claim To NDIS Levy


Written by David Marler
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Newman My Policy  

Premier Campbell Newman Has Told State Parliament That The Increase To The Medicare Levy to Fund The DisabilityCare NDIS Was His Idea.

NDIS My Policy Suggestion   Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman has told state Parliament that the idea of raising the Medicare levy to fund the DisabilityCare NDIS project was his idea.

During Ministerial Statements, the Premier said;

"So today I welcome the Prime Minister's announcement to increase the Medicare levy by half a percentage point from 1 July 2014. I put this idea of a levy to the Prime Minister on the eve of the July 2012 COAG meeting.

I am pleased that the Prime Minister has taken my policy suggestion and announced it today. I now await the detail of the proposal. At face value, if what the Prime Minister has said is accurate, it means that we can now move to a full implementation of the NDIS in Queensland in 2018-2019 and, as honourable members can no doubt see, I am delighted with that position."

Can Premier Newman really lay claim to the DisabilityCare NDIS levy idea?

In answering that we need to go back to the Productivity Commission Report Into Disability Care and Support which was released on 10 August 2011.

In their findings, they did not recommend a rise to the Medicare Levy or a specific levy be created to pay for the NDIS.
We have looked at alternative sources of Commonwealth funding for the scheme, but these are inferior options. The Australian Government could legislate for a levy on personal income (the National Disability Insurance Premium),with an increment added to the existing marginal income tax rates, and dedicated to the full revenue needs of the NDIS. The rate would need to take sufficient account of the pressures.

A dedicated tax is not as efficient as the legislated contribution from the consolidated revenue fund because it does not exploit the opportunities for funding the scheme through spending reductions elsewhere and for future tax reforms to deliver a more efficient source of revenue. A dedicated tax would not be a future-proofed arrangement.
- Executive Summary, pp 13-14

Source: Disability Care and Support
On July 27th, 2012 in The Australian, Peter Van Onselen was to report on a dinner Premier Newman had with other Premiers, Chief Ministers and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Whilst finishing their mains, Premier Newman asked, "Have you thought about a tax? Like a flood levy?"

Peter Van Onselen wrote that the flood levy applied at 0.5 per cent on incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 and 1 per cent on incomes
above $100,000, raised $1.8bn last financial year.

The PM thought that it would bring too much politics to the scheme. Premier Newman assured the PM that this had not caused too much political damage to the Federal Government when the flood levy was implemented.

Van Onselen reported that South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill backed up Premier Newman with his own Government's research into a 0.5% increase in the Medicare levy. WA Premier Colin Barnett, Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings and NSW Premier O'Farrell concurred.

However, the levy was never discussed the following day at the final sitting of COAG.

Source: 'Julia Gillard rejected states' NDIS offer
  NDIS My Policy Spain
Back in Brisbane, as reported by Brisbane Times reporter, Daniel Hurst, Premier Newman was to tell Fairfax Radio 4BC;

“I actually said to her on the evening, I said, 'Prime Minister this is sort of like an 'Obama healthcare in the US' moment – a breakthrough moment, an opportunity for you to get this scheme across the line and make it happen and do it now', [but] she doesn't want to do it.”

“She said, 'Oh look, I'll ultimately wear the odium of that.' That was the concern. And I say this again today. I think that's just really, really quite cowardly."

Premier Newman then commented on what Federal Opposition Tony Abbott would make of his response.

Mr Newman said he would be “really surprised” if Mr Abbott would take a view against his levy suggestion. However, Mr Abbott this morning said the NDIS should be funded out of general government revenue.

This, of course sparked the usual round of words between the Federal Government and State Government.

Source: PM a 'coward' for shunning disability levy: Newman
  Fast forward to this week. Over the weekend of 27-28 April 2013, rumblings of a rise in the Medicare levy to fund the DisabilityCare NDIS began to permeate through the main stream media and social media.

Premier Newman reacted instantly, with 'a great big tax hike' tweet, challenging the Prime Minister's idea of raising the Medicare levy.

Also on that Monday, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey would not commit to ABC News Breakfast host, Virginia Trioli on a rise to the Medicare levy to fund DisabilityCare NDIS.
May Day and Amy Remeikis from Brisbane Times reported that Prime Minister Julia Gillard had an unlikely allly in Premier Newman.

"My position has been consistent for the last year; NDIS is something that has never been undertaken in Australia. This is a bold, new important social initiative that brings a level of care and protection for people with disabilities and their families that has never been provided before in Australia's history."

Source: 'Newman backs NDIS levy'

Had Premier Newman been consistent, though? I asked Fairfax journalist, Daniel Hurst if he would mind finding out.
  NDIS My Policy Joe Hockey
  The Government's media manager, Lee Anderson responded to Daniel, stating that;

"Not so. Wasn't re NDIS"

However, no other taxes or levies were being discussed at a federal level during the period.
One of the great disability advocates, President of People with Disability Craig Wallace was in Canberra for the levy increase announcement.

He explained that NDIS advocacy groups had been working on a funding solution for many months and that the levy was the best way to go. They'd managed to swing the Prime Minister from her original stance.

"A levy is the right mechanism to do this."

He highlighted the need for urgency.
  NDIS My Policy Craig Wallace
"I've heard Peter Costello and we've heard from the Australian Council of Commerce and Industry talking about needing to shelve the scheme for better days. Well the fact is we've had the better days, we had the brighter days with the enormous surpluses under the Howard Government. If we didn't do it then, you know, how are we going to do it now?"

Bringing up the rear, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott agreed to a conditional levy. He called it a 'moderate increase' to the existing Medicare levy to raise funds for the scheme.  He popped off a few jibes at the Gillard Government's 'economic failure' before disappearing off camera.

Minutes later, the media statement was released which read; If elected to government the Coalition would resolve to ensure that the increase to the Medicare levy is a temporary increase and will be removed when the budget returns to strong surplus and the NDIS can be funded without it.

A small caveat to satisfy the big CEOs and Chairmen like Myers' Bernie Brookes who had complained that an increase to the Medicare Levy would be to customers, "something they would have spent with us".

Social media erupted in anti-Myers sentiment almost as the words were spoken.
NDIS My Policy Chaney Interview   Chairman of Woodside Petroleum and National Australia Bank wanted to delay the NDIS in favour of a review until the budget was back in surplus. He suggested that such a scheme would put Australia into financial difficulty of European proportions.

"The problem I have is these sort of decisions tend to be made on the run, or that's the perception, they are terrific ideas, as I say no one would argue with many of them but we need to be able to pay for them, you can't just keep spending money without getting the revenue in the end you end up like the countries you see now in Europe that have very high levels of debt and very few ways if getting out of it."
We'd been presented with lots of ideas on how and when to fund DisabilityCare NDIS. As to ownership of the preferred method of a levy, who could lay claim to it?

While Campbell Newman had raised the levy idea at a dinner, it had been contemplated long before he arrived on the scene by the Productivity Commission.

Having said that, it's the type of thing we want him to do, come up with ideas, represent Queensland. It's what we pay him for.

However, he'd dropped the ball, thrown his hands in the air because the Prime Minister wouldn't accept his plan right away.  When the idea resurfaced he was skeptical and then all for it for Queensland in 2018/19.

How the DisabilityCare NDIS is shaped and paid for now belongs to the public. No one should lay claim to it, not even Labor.

However, like it or not, it has entered the Federal election campaign 2013.

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