Senate hurdle in NDIS top up
Federal Government plans to boost NDIS funding with education money may not be possible.
Reports say Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces a $3.7 billion funding black hole if he cannot transfer money from an education fund into the landmark initiative National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The Government needs Senate approval to move the money from the Education Investment Fund (EIF), which was set up to fund university infrastructure, to the NDIS.
Senior government figures have reportedly told News Corp that legislation would not be needed to make the transfer, but Universities Australia has written to public universities to point out that the Department of Finance says legislation “would need to be amended for the government to remove the uncommitted balance of EIF and transfer this money to a different purpose”.
Additionally, the Senate has already rejected moves to shift the EIF money to the Asset Recycling Fund in the last parliament.
Group of Eight universities chair Peter Hoj said the NDIS should be funded adequately, just not using money from the EIF.
“Damage research and you damage not only the medical advances that come from research, but indeed the economy which sustains many of the services we wish to have available in the long term,” he said.
Opposition research spokesperson Kim Carr called the move a “false dichotomy”.
“The government has $50 billion in proposed tax cuts sitting there yet it wants to deprive the country of essential research infrastructure that will drive innovation into the future,” Senator Carr told The Australian.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said it would happen as planned.
“The uncommitted funds from the EIF and the BAF will be allocated to the NDIS savings fund special account,” Senator Cormann told News Corp.
“These are not the only funds that will be added to the NDIS savings fund special account.
“The government remains committed to putting the NDIS on a sustainable funding foundation for the future.”