Queensland Premier Campbell Newman insisted on Friday that he was not blocking funds intended for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) but instead pushing for federal funding closely moulded after the Medicare system.
Mr Newman said that he backs the setting up of a national levy, meaning the general taxpayers will have to shoulder the full cost of the NDIS roll out, in lieu of the state-funded model that Prime Minister Julia Gillard prefers.
In short, the Queensland chief executive said that he was for a viable solution that would extend to "to people with disabilities for a brand new scheme to give them the dignity and the quality of life that they don't have at the moment."
Mr Newman told Fairfax that Ms Gillard was lukewarm to his proposal, which claimed has the support of state premiers, at least the conservative ones, and chief ministers.
He was reacting to reports that the Labor Government has accused him and other Liberal state chiefs of refusing to contribute to the NDIS funding, which Ms Gillard said should function with significant roles coming not only from the Commonwealth but also from state and territory governments.
As it encountered opposition from conservative states, Ms Gillard said the NDIS trial run will instead be implemented on test modes in ACT, South Australia and Tasmania, where their Labor governments were willing to foot majority of the bill.
However, Mr Newman said the national levy he floated was for the long-term, which he added was similar to that U.S. President Barack Obama had instituted in reforming America's health care system.
"The opportunity was there to not only deliver the scheme but to deliver it not in 2018, but in the next year-and-a-half to two years. We could have got this going. We could have ramped it up because it does need a proper long-term funding source," Mr Newman was quoted by Fairfax as saying in an interview.
But the prime minister was not sold to idea, firmly convinced that another tax measure on a national scale will not be supported by the Parliament, the Queensland chief added.
True enough, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said that another levy will not gain support from the Coalition and instead pointed to the position of the Productivity Commission on the matter, which said the NDIS "should be funded out of general revenue."
Mr Abbott also blamed the national government for its inability to fund the initiative, which he described as a very "important reform ... (that would give disabled people) the fair go they deserve."
"The reason why the current government is struggling is because they are addicted to wasteful and unnecessary spending," The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Abbott as saying on Friday.
He hinted, however, that an Abbott Government would do otherwise, which means that the NDIS "has to be led by the national government, it has to be funded by the national government."
In a reaction, Trade Minister Craig Emerson scored Mr Newman for playing politics on the issue when he claimed that the Queensland government would find it difficult to identify source of funds for the NDIS.
"It's about priorities ... Campbell Newman thinks it's better to spending it supporting an appeal in the High Court against the mining tax so he can give the money back to the big mining companies," Dr Emerson told Fairfax.
Mr Newman's refusal to pitch in to the fund only proved that "the Queensland government is the worst funder of disabilities in Australia," which Dr Emerson said was not the case in other Australian states.
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