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Victorians will have no confidence for disability sector as confused minister offers no clarity on incorrect budget allocation

Victorians with a disability got little explanation today for a $15 million "error" in the state budget papers that saw funding "incorrectly allocated" to the wrong portfolio area.

By news@gippsland - 23rd May 2022 - Back to News

In a bumbling and confused appearance at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) today, Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Anthony Carbines showed he is not across the detail of his portfolios. This included a savage 50 per cent cut to the Office for Disability, which indicated funding of $15.4 million in 2021-22 will be decreased to just $7.8 million in 2022-23 (Service Delivery Budget Paper, p 197).

Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said the Ministerís bumbling response was no confidence for the disability sector

Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said the Minister's bumbling response was no confidence for the disability sector

Minister has no explanation

The Office provides crucial support in disability advocacy and community outcomes. Questioned today at PAEC, the Minister could not provide an explanation, before eventually blaming a "mistake in the budget papers" that "incorrectly allocated [funds] to disability services in error".

Mr Bull said, "If this is nothing more than an accounting error, as the Minister suggests, why didn't he come clean with the sector as soon as he realised the mistake? Why keep it secret until he was pushed for a response? It is no comfort for the sector that the Minister in charge of leading it into the future clearly doesn't care or isn't up to the job." Mr Bull said.

Blank, with no knowledge

The next topic was the budget reference to the reduction of 103 pension-level beds in Supported Residential Services (SRS). When asked about the details of this, including for the location of the beds that will no longer be funded, the Minister was blank, with no knowledge of it at all, simply stating - again after a long pause and more paper shuffling - "we will have to get back to you on that".

Finally, the Minister was asked about the reference to 38 'new' aged care beds in Orbost and whether this was 38 new beds, in addition to the 38 existing beds, or whether it was simply a refurbishment of the existing 38 beds.

Relying on the sector for support

His response that these were new beds, in addition to the existing beds (meaning 76 in total), is at complete odds with the local health service, with Orbost Regional Health confirming it is simply a refurbishment and new layout for the existing 38 beds.

"These were not difficult questions and ones the Minister should have anticipated. That he had no idea in relation to any would be of great concern to all Victorians who rely on the sector for support, for their loved ones and for all stakeholder groups in the Disability, Ageing and Carers portfolio." Mr Bull said.

Pictures from Victoria Disability Resource Centre Facebook page.


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