Disability advocate Anne Vetter.
Disability advocate Anne Vetter. Craig Warhurst

Disability scheme still not a sure thing

GYMPIE disability services advocate Anne Vetter is delighted - up to a point.

The news that Queensland is "very, very positive" about reaching agreement with Canberra to implement a national disability care scheme is in itself "very, very positive", according to Mrs Vetter.

But, she says, she will believe it when it actually becomes law.

"I'm elated by the news, but I won't be happy until it's legislated," she told The Gympie Times yesterday.

But the scheme is still far too caught in the middle for anyone to be popping the champagne corks just yet, she says.

"It's a grey area at the moment. Julia Gillard is claiming to want to legislate it now if the Opposition comes on board; otherwise it won't be legislated until after the election.

"The worry is that something so potentially vital to the lives of people with disabilities and their families could become a political football."

She had just received word from Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the funding stream that would enable Disability Care to function.

But the promise will not come into effect until next year, well after the September federal election.

"We will increase the Medicare Levy by half a percentage point from July 1, 2014, which will take the Medicare Levy from 1.5% of taxable income to 2%," the Prime Minister said.

"The key thing I need Australians to know is this," she said. "For someone earning an average wage of around $70,000 a year, this will be a modest contribution of around 96c a day.

"That money will support a better life for hundreds of thousands of Australians with a significant and permanent disability, and their families and carers."

That, she said, would involve 410,000 "of our fellow Australians".

But, also, Ms Gillard said: "That money will protect every Australian - anyone who might acquire a disability will have a new safety net to rely on."

Mrs Vetter expressed even more delight that the scheme now has the support of Mr Newman, meaning Queensland now expects to join Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT, in supporting a full rollout of the scheme from 2018.

The Northern Territory is also involved but Western Australia is still hesitant.

Gympie Times

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