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8 months ago
THERE are fears for a beloved Newcastle-based disability service as the Morrison Government and the NSW Liberals squabble over who should fund it.
St Vincent de Paul’s Ability Links program supports tens of thousands of people with disability into jobs, sporting teams, volunteering positions and more independent lives.
But its closure is now looming after the Morrison Government slashed its commitment to provide $28.5 million to just $8.5 million.
A spokesperson for the National Disability Insurance Agency had previously told the Newcastle Herald that Ability Links was a NSW Government responsibility.
But now the NSW Liberals have well and truly belled the cat revealing it is their federal counterparts in the Morrison Government who are penny pinching at the cost of people with disability.
NSW Liberal Disability Minister Gareth Ward has said: “I actually wrote to (NDIS Minister Stuart) Robert—before he was sworn in and after he was sworn in—in relation to this matter. I am continuing to lobby the Commonwealth for its share of funding because we have provided our full share of funding.”
Under questioning from Labor Mr Ward was asked whether ‘the Feds’ had not provided what they committed to providing and answered: “That is correct.”
Shadow NDIS Minister Bill Shorten said leadership was needed to save Ability Links
“The Liberals need to stop squabbling and act to prevent this excellent program from closing,” Mr Shorten said.
“This blame game will only see a program which makes a real positive difference to so many people end forever. That would be a disaster.”
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said the surprise accusation demonstrates that the Liberals can’t be trusted to look after people with disabilities.
“While the axe hangs over this vital service, the State and Federal Liberal Governments are more intent on blaming each other than fixing the problem,” Ms Claydon said.  
“This savage cut is going to hurt tens of thousands of families. The Morrison Government needs to come clean on what’s going on here.”
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said the cut was particularly cruel given that more than one billion dollars wasn’t spent by the Morrison Government from the NDIS budget.  
“The Liberals are cynically underspending $1.6 billion on the NDIS to prop up their flimsy surplus at the expense of people with disabilities.
“The Morrison Government needs to stop playing stupid games and deliver every single cent that it has committed to Ability Links.”
Social Services