Pip Gormly is pleading with the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott not to scuttle the National Disability Insurance Scheme by opposing a hike in the Medicare levy. Picture: Toby Zerna Source: News Limited
GROUNDBREAKING barrister Phillipa Gormly – who went to University with Tony Abbott – is pleading with the Opposition leader not to scuttle the NDIS by opposing a hike in the Medicare levy needed to get it off the ground.
Ms Gormly, a friend to John Howard, has MS and is in a wheelchair but continues to work and says an NDIS would open up the same workforce opportunities to other people with a disability.
The government is considering a 0.5 per cent Medicare levy hike to provide the funds to get the insurance scheme off the ground but Ms Gormly says the tax would be short-lived because the scheme would eventually pay for itself.
The NDIS would allow carers and people with a disability to return to work generating tax revenue and create a new workforce of NDIS carers, she said.
Mr Abbott is yet to declare whether he would support or reject a Medicare levy hike to fund the NDIS.
Disability groups are concerned the Coalition will seize on the proposed levy rise and portray it as a great big new tax, turning the NDIS, which has bipartisan support, into a political issue.
”Don’t use it as a political football, the levy only needs to be temporary because it (the NDIS) will eventually be a self-funded model,” Ms Gormly said in an appeal to the Opposition Leader.
A Medicare levy hike won the support of Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes who says ”it gets a set chunk of money for the NDIS which is critical to ensure we don’t have a scheme that fails or is not successful because it is underfunded.”
He says he is also concerned about a possible Opposition scare campaign on tax and says it is time ”as a country we have a mature conversation”.
Key independents Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott both yesterday weighed into the debate over the Medicare levy.
Mr Wilkie, the independent for Denison in Tasmania, said he was ”open-minded” about an increase in the levy to help fund the NDIS.
”The NDIS is vitally important and must be fully funded,” Mr Wilkie said.
”I’m open-minded about how that might be achieved.”
Mr Oakeshott, who represents Lyne on the mid-north NSW coast, was more cautious.
”I remain an advocate for comprehensive tax reform, and believe negotiations at a wider level on how governments tax and spend are now desperately needed,” he said.
”A one-off increase in the Medicare levy is, in my view, the latest example of a piecemeal taxing measure.”
The Greens yesterday suggested Labor should look at winding back offshore processing or place a levy on the banking sector to repair Labor’s increased budget hole.
”The Prime Minister has said everything is on the table, well that should include shutting down camps and saving Australian taxpayers billions of dollars,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
Greens MP Adam Bandt said another record profit from ANZ announced yesterday meant the government should look to raise revenue from the big four banks.
”Most people would prefer a levy on the big banks, which would raise $11bn, instead of higher taxes or cuts to universities,” Mr Bandt said.
Former Liberal National Party MP now independent Peter Slipper said he was not convinced a Medicare levy was necessary.
”Not at all convinced that there should be a boost to the Medicare levy,” Mr Slipper said.
”Would listen to the arguments for and against. If there needs to be a levy to fund the NDIS, why would it be on Medicare and not a NDIS specific levy.”