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Today I rise to discuss the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Getting the NDIS Back on Track No. 1) Bill 2024. This scheme must get back on track. It needs to get back on track for the sustainability of the NDIS so that the critical role it plays in so many Australian's lives can be protected.

Australians with disability, before the scheme, were too often unseen and unheard, living in our shadows. People with disability were too often subject to the misery lottery—that is, disability support was incredibly patchy across the country, and very much so in my own home state of Western Australia.

Depending on your postcode, you might have been lucky enough to have some funding to help you and your family or you might have lived a life of complete uncertainty, disadvantage and poverty. Of course, it was also subject to how you had acquired your disability, and there was much discrimination based on whether you were born with a disability or whether, for example, you had acquired a brain or spinal injury or a degenerative condition at some other point in life.

It was clear then, just as it is clear now, that we need a whole system of disability support across our nation. We need to make sure the NDIS is fit for purpose to support people with disability, particularly those with the most complex support needs, which mean they can be vulnerable to exploitation and to missing out on the critical services they need. They can be vulnerable to exploitation from providers who aren't doing the right thing to uphold the support needs of their clients.

Our parliament made the decision a decade ago that we should not let someone's postcode or financial situation dictate whether or not they get the services they need. But today there are new lotteries emerging for people with NDIS support, based, for example, on whether you have an ethical or unethical provider. This sits behind the legislation that we are debating here today. I find it startling, frankly, that the Greens and the coalition are not here to stand by to make sure that the NDIS is cleaned up to weed out unethical providers and to make sure that people can get the support that they need.

The 10 years of NDIS that we've had has fundamentally changed Australia. It represents the best of us as a nation. It represents our values—it's about giving Australians a fair go—and represents a levelling of the playing field. It should and must continue to evolve over time, in deep consultation with people with disability, in co-design with people with disability, just as this legislation sets out.

The NDIS is not currently working well for everyone. We've heard from participants about how every interaction with the NDIS can become a battle. We spoke through the Senate community affairs committee inquiry about the struggles that so many have had to go through to get the support they need, and we did our best to consult through the community affairs committee.

I want to highlight the fact that this also came, at the back end, from the NDIS review process, as well as from the many town hall events that the Department of Social Services held as part of that review. Our inquiry had over 200 submissions and heard from 50 witnesses. We held two lived experience panels and we heard from agencies. We held hearings over three days, and in those hearings we heard a lot of evidence that the government has been tuned in and making changes to the legislation in response to issues raised.

Some of the concerns that were identified in the review and in our inquiry, which this legislation is here to fix, are that, while some people can manage an unregistered provider, lack of registration has led to exploitation and abuse, and there is currently very little oversight of the scheme.

I would also note that the provision of unregistered services is leading to the exploitation of workers in a gig-like economy. Some of the nation's biggest disability service providers insist that their workers have their own ABN. That means they don't have to pay superannuation and can keep workers' hours low so that they don't have to pay a whole range of things. They make their workers responsible for their own workers compensation and the like.

This means that quality providers who want to provide registered services are not just being undercut by one-on-one relationships where someone wants to recruit someone of their own accord and put their own team together. I understand the need to do that. But this lack of registration is actually seeing some of our nation's biggest disability support providers exploiting workers and undercutting their working conditions.

I understand that this legislation is first and foremost about people with disability, their need for the supports and the capacity of this system to provide those supports. However, I contend that, if you have providers that are putting workers out there in the system with their own ABNs when in fact the providers have thousands of workers on the books, that is not going to result in quality support and quality systems.

The scheme's integrity chief, John Dardo, told the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee about the extent of fraud and illegal activity his team were seeing and have been stopping since the team was set up in late 2022. In my view, it is incredibly shocking to hear that funding supposed to be used for packages of support for people with permanent and significant disabilities could instead be used to fund criminal activities or to purchase cars or holidays, with fraudulent providers even withdrawing plan funds from ATMs to buy illicit substances.

Now, under our government, we are checking thousands of invoices every day, whereas previously only 20 invoices across thousands issued to the agency were being checked on a daily basis. Previously, if you put in a claim, it was just paid. This is why, as part of this reform process, we are making sure that we're able to clean up the scheme to catch crooks—so that people with disability get the money spent on them and their primary support needs.

Ever since Labor was elected, we've invested in a mammoth fraud clean-up job, including $126 million in funding over four years to establish the Fraud Fusion Taskforce. In February this year we announced funding of the $83.9 million program to improve the integrity of the NDIS. But improving this integrity fundamentally also means needing to change some of its regulation.

The problems in the underlying regulation and law mean it is too difficult to clean up the NDIS without the law reform that is before us today. We want the NDIS to continue to be able to change lives for the better. This is an investment in people.

It is an investment in our nation. We are creating jobs and careers, small businesses and innovative startups, with people delivering businesses and providing services, including many businesses providing employment for people with disability who are supporting and providing services to other people with disability. But it is too important to politicise this issue in the way that has been done and to not take the opportunity to get it right and to fix it for the future.

This Labor government is absolutely committed to getting the NDIS reform right. We're committed to co-design, hearing NDIS participants and protecting this scheme now and for future generations.