/ 05 June 2024

Fraud runs rampant in the NDIS

Bill Shorten

The Squiz 

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) integrity boss John Dardo has delivered an alarming warning about “significant indicators of fraud” within the scheme… In an update to senators earlier this week, Dardo said investigators had discovered shady providers – including organised crime syndicates – rorting the system by using participants’ NDIS money to pay for things like illicit drugs, alcohol, pricey holidays, brand new cars, gift vouchers and personal expenses. By the numbers, he said at least 5% – aka $2 billion worth – of the $42-billion-a-year scheme is being used inappropriately, and “there would be thousands of cases where participants are claiming things that are not consistent with their plan”.

That’s a lotta money…

It is, and the Albanese Government has had its eye on it, given the cost of funding the NDIS has blown out – and will continue to blow out over the coming decade. That’s prompted a reform process to ensure its sustainability. The Coalition has had NDIS Minister Bill Shorten in its sights over the issue and has been critical of the slow response to allegations of fraud. Shorten was pressed again in Question Time yesterday but pushed back, saying the issue had begun under the Coalition during its time in power, and steps are being taken to address it. He confirmed more than 700 investigations are underway – including “about 500 plus investigations of compliance matters” – along with 20 prosecutions in court and another 12 being considered by prosecutors. He says “clearly anyone claiming items which are not allowed … it is illegal”.

Shorten’s having quite a time of it… 

He sure is… Aside from the NDIS kerfuffle, you might have seen reports about the tidy sum his speechwriter is taking home. If you missed it, it’s come to light that Julianne Stewart has been employed on a 2-year contract for $600,000 – an unusually high salary. Shorten’s been playing defence, saying she was employed by his department Services Australia, and he was “not responsible for negotiating” the contract. But he did say Stewart “does a very good job”… That might come in handy when he’s called up to speak on behalf of the Albanese Government at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s peace talks in Switzerland next month… There have been questions over whether the NDIS Minister is the right person to represent us, but Foreign Minister Penny Wong – who can’t attend – reckons he’s up for the job.

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