More concerns over legislation

THE efforts of well-known Gippsland carer advocate Jean Tops have been recognised in Federal Parliament as Ms Tops stepped up a local National Disability Insurance Scheme campaign.

In the same week Gippsland Carers Association president Ms Tops was praised in parliament by Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester for her “formidable” lobbying on behalf of Gippslanders with disabilities, Ms Tops warned bickering governments threatened to derail full implementation of a NDIS.

Meanwhile, a peak legal body raised concerns some people with disabilities could be left worse off under current draft NDIS legislation.

Just after Ms Tops told The Express a proposed NDIS would fail if a “quick fix” approach was pursued, the Australian Lawyers Alliance also forecast the scheme’s failure.

“From a legal perspective, it is especially concerning that there is a lack of protection for existing common law rights,” ALA national president Tony Kerin said.

“People should not be forced to take legal action in order to receive disability support – it should be up to the individual to choose when to exercise their rights.

“This fundamental freedom of choice could be compromised by the Bill as it stands,” he said.

Mr Kerin also criticised the “lack of clarity” on the scheme’s funding, which he said “raised significant issues”.

Ms Tops said GCA also sought clarity on a range of NDIS issues.

She said the scheme, subject to funding debate between the federal and state governments, should be “core Federal Government business”.

Mr Chester said this week it would take “several parliaments” to fulfil the NDIS implementation.

The MP said he had long supported the scheme’s implementation, but it would “require a major funding commitment from not only the current government, but also successive governments”.

“There is a concern that we do not really know how we are going to fully pay for the future stage of the implementation,” Mr Chester told parliament.

He also said the current system of disability care and the support it offered was “unsustainable”.

Ms Tops has long maintained the same stance.

She also recently warned federal MPs who failed to get behind a full NDIS would suffer a backlash from carers.

In recommending a GCA submission for a regional carers network across Gippsland to the Senate legislation committee, Mr Chester recognised Ms Tops had made it “very clear what she thinks” about the Federal Government’s obligation to “step up to the mark with the NDIS”.