The West

Premier Colin Barnett has again baulked at signing up to the national disability care scheme, saying the increased Medicare levy is the “easy” part of funding the plan.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced a 0.5 per cent Medicare levy increase, to start on July 1 next year, to raise money for the DisabilityCare Australia scheme.

Mr Barnett thinks WA will eventually be part of a national scheme but he wants greater flexibility and a more decentralised model before he commits to it.

“We’re not going to sign up to a take-it or leave-it proposal,“ Mr Barnett told ABC radio.

“Part of the federal government model is that they take over state funding and spend it out of Canberra and I don’t think that is going to be good with people with a disability in this state.”

Ms Gillard warned the additional Medicare levy would not fund the full cost of the scheme and there would be no “free ride for states and territories”.

Mr Barnett said the cost of the scheme could top $22 billion and that was unaffordable.

“I will not sign up for a scheme that is not even funded,” he said.

“The PM is assuming the rest of the money is going to come from the states but what capacity do the states have to increase a tax to pay for our share?

“I hesitate to promise people with a disability something that at the moment neither the commonwealth or the state has got the money to pay for.”

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said the levy hike was a “brave move” so close to an election.

“It is an insurance policy for all of us if we suffer from a catastrophic injury, or in fact we suffered from it from birth,” he said.

The West Australian

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