THE Labor opposition intends waving a National Disability Insurance Scheme bill through Parliament tomorrow, enabling the Coalition to privatise the state’s disability services.
Unions, staff and the families of many people in government care are angry at Labor’s stance, which supports the closure of the Stockton Centre and the Hunter’s other large residential facilities, Tomaree and Kanangra at Morisset.
Stockton welfare association member Wendy Cuneo sapprovalaid both sides of politics had betrayed the Stockton Centre ‘‘community’’.
‘‘Labor said they supported us and it was only 2010 when the Coalition assured us the residents could stay on those grounds for as long as they lived,’’ Mrs Cuneo said.
‘‘As far as the disability community was concerned, the NDIS was a lovely concept that would start giving services to those who didn’t have them.
‘‘But, instead, it is starting by destroying the lives of those who were already catered for.’’
Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery confirmed that Labor would vote as a bloc after a caucus decision to support the bill, despite concerns that she and others had about the privatisation of state-run disability services.
Ms Hornery said the bill was due in the Lower House tomorrow after passing the Upper House late last month.
She said it was hard for state Labor to oppose the bill because the NDIS – including the privatisation of state assets – was a federal Labor initiative.
Asked why federal Labor supported such privatisation, Ms Hornery said ‘‘none of us know what took place during the discussions’’ between then prime minister Julia Gillard and the states.
She said South Australia was not privatising and she urged the NSW government to ‘‘carefully consider its decision’’.
‘‘The O’Farrell government is putting profits ahead of the lives of our constituents.’’
Public Service Association regional organiser Paul James said the union was extremely disappointed with Labor’s stance, saying the party was hypocritical.
‘‘Labor opposed the privatisation of the National Disability Service Agency when Joe Hockey proposed having Medicare Private administer it, but it’s quite happy to have the NDIS result in the privatisation of state disability services,’’ Mr James said.
He said opposition to the privatisation would continue, with a community rally at Club Panthers Newcastle on Wednesday, December 4.
Opposition spokesperson on disability services, Barbara Perry, said Labor was ‘‘fully committed to the NDIS and its principles of giving people choice of service’’.
‘‘There is understandably, a lot of anxiety for many people with disabilities, their families, carers and disability sector workers about the transition to the scheme and how it is being implemented,’’ Ms Perry said.
‘‘That’s why Labor moved amendments in the Legislative Council, which were unfortunately rejected by the government, including stopping the forced transfer of disability workers from the public sector,’’ she said.