Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has renewed his attack on Queensland premier Campbell Newman, calling him “cold-hearted and callous” for refusing to fund a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The NSW and Victorian Liberal governments on Friday bowed to public pressure and agreed to meet federal funding benchmarks to host trial sites for the multi-billion dollar NDIS.
Mr Newman is still refusing to meet the benchmarks, saying the state can’t afford it.
Mr Swan, who described the Queensland premier as “irresponsible” during the week, fired another broadside on Saturday, saying he had never seriously considered a national disability insurance scheme.
“I don’t believe he’s fair dinkum about doing something to assist Queenslanders with disabilities and Australians with disabilities,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“I call on him to put away the politics and to get stuck into working constructively with the federal government.”
Mr Swan estimated an NDIS launch site in Queensland would set the state back an extra $20 million.
Mr Newman was “playing politics” with disability, he said, adding that the premier had made “quite a few mistakes” in the past week – referring to Mr Newman’s comments comparing the Queensland economy to that of Spain.
“He made reckless statements about the Queensland economy, which were simply untrue – and very damaging – and I believe he’s being cold-hearted and callous about people with disabilities as well,” Mr Swan said.
“… It’s really, really disappointing to see what Mr Newman and his government have been doing in this area.
“They’re playing with people’s lives. They ought to get serious.
“This is a serious national reform (and) they ought to come on board.”
Mr Swan said Mr Newman was running a political campaign to hide his embarrassment over sacking 20,000 public servants.
“That’s what this campaign’s all about – hiding his embarrassment at repudiating his election commitments,” Mr Swan said.