The agency overseeing the $29 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme is without a permanent chief executive or chairman after former Victorian premier Denis Napthine stepped down after just three months into a three-year appointment.
Disability Minister Bill Shorten announced on Monday that Dr Napthine had resigned as chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Dr Napthine’s resignation comes a month after NDIA chief executive Martin Hoffman quit, leaving his $720,000-a-year role a week after Mr Shorten was sworn in as Disability Minister in the Albanese government.
Mr Shorten was highly critical of both men while in opposition.
He labelled the appointment of Dr Napthine a “disgrace” when it was announced by the Morrison government in February. And in April, Mr Shorten said he had not “spoken to anyone in the disability sector who has a good word to say about Mr Hoffman”.
Mr Shorten struck a more conciliatory tone on Monday, describing Dr Napthine as a committed advocate for the NDIS. Victoria signed up to the NDIS in 2013 during Dr Napthine’s stint as premier.
NDIA board member Jim Minto will act as chairman until a replacement is appointed.
Deputy chief executive for markets, government and engagement, Lisa Studdert, has been acting as chief executive since Mr Hoffman’s departure this month.
The disability sector has urged the government to appoint a person with a disability in the chief executive role.
“The idea that appointments for executive roles within the NDIA be based on executive performance rather than lived experience of disability is outdated thinking,” People with Disability Australia president Samantha Connor said last month.
Dr Napthine and Mr Hoffman’s resignations come at a time of rapid growth of the NDIS, with forecasts the scheme will eclipse Medicare in cost.
The cost of the NDIS is on track to double to almost $60 billion by 2030, according to the NDIA’s annual financial sustainability report.
The forecasts reflect strong growth in the number of people using the scheme and the average payments made to participants, which outstrip projections made by the Productivity Commission.
The average NDIS participant receives a payment of $55,200 a year, with the figure increasing 10.8 per cent annually over the past three years.
As of March, there were 518,668 NDIS participants, with the NDIA projecting this number to increase to 670,000 by June 2025 and almost 860,000 by June 2030.
The Productivity Commission forecast in 2017 that 582,860 Australians would use the scheme in 2030.
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