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The resulting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill 2012 was referred to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry in late November 2012.

The committee undertook a comprehensive inquiry process over the following four months, receiving almost 1600 submissions and hearing from 232 witnesses while travelling and teleconferencing throughout Australia. It found there was ‘overwhelming support’ for an NDIS among people with disabilities, their families, carers and service providers.

Influenced by issues raised in submissions to the inquiry, the government began proposing changes to the bill while the inquiry was still underway. The committee’s report, tabled on 13 March 2013, made 29 additional recommendations, many of which were incorporated into the bill over the coming days. Eight days later the amended NDIS bill passed into law with full cross-party support.

The NDIS inquiry showcases the committee process at its best. The improved scheme, despite its teething problems, represents a revolutionary change in disability support in Australia.

Committee public hearing in Geelong, 20 February 2013. L-R: Senators Carol Brown, Rachel Siewert, Claire Moore, Sue Boyce and Mitch Fifield. Witnesses L-R: Dr John Chesterman, Manager of Policy and Education, Office of the Public Advocate; Lynne Coulson Barr, Deputy Disability Services Commissioner and Laurie Harkin AM, Disability Services Commissioner.

One month later, committee chair Senator Claire Moore remarked on the NDIS bill’s passage into law: ‘To all those people who actually came and took part in the committee: this reinforces that, again, you have the right and you have the voice to impact on legislation in our country’.

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Making Laws: The National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012

Video (duration 06:30), Department of the Senate, 2015