Federal government to pay for disability royal commission

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the federal government will pay for the royal commission into disability abuse, which will be permitted to also scrutinise the massive National Disability Insurance Scheme.

With time running out to get the royal commission set up before the federal election is called, draft terms of reference have been released for two weeks of public consultation.

Last month, Mr Morrison wrote to the states asking for their support for a royal commission and raising the prospect of "any cost sharing arrangements that may be appropriate". But on Wednesday, he told reporters, "the Commonwealth will be fully funding the royal commission into disabilities".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the federal government will pay for the disability royal commission.  Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the federal government will pay for the disability royal commission. Photo: AAP

Mr Morrison has previously indicated the disability royal commission should be of a similar size to the royal commission into child sexual abuse, which ran for five years and cost more than $400 million.

Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher would not be drawn on the negotiations with the states over funding. "I'm not really going to get into the intricacies of who said what. What I will say is, you'd expect any fiscally prudent and responsible prime minister ... to at least ask the question of state and territory governments," he told Sky News.

Mr Fletcher added that states were expected to provide in-kind support. The detail of this is still being worked out, but could include things like disability-accessible office space for the commission to be able to do its work.

His comments come as the five Labor state disability ministers, including Victorian minister for disability Luke Donnellan, wrote to Mr Fletcher expressing concern about the two week consultation period.  Ministers are calling for four weeks' consultation and "direct sector engagement through focus groups".

"People have been waiting too long for a royal commission for it to be rushed in order for the federal government to achieve a political outcome prior to the upcoming federal election," the letter says.

Labor under Bill Shorten has previously pledged $26 million towards a royal commission and is open to increasing the figure.

Disability advocates have suggested funding for the royal commission will need to be much higher than the $400 million set aside for the child abuse royal commission. People with Disability Australia co-chief executive officer Matthew Bowden noted the child abuse inquiry only involved "one age group, one form of abuse and [was restricted to] institutional settings".

Mr Bowden welcomed the draft terms of reference, which ask the commission to inquire into "all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability, whatever the setting or context".

It will also examine "what governments, institutions and the community should do to prevent and better protect people with disability" and explicitly includes the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  This comes as disability advocates have been urging the government to make sure the NDIS is included.

Mr Morrison also said there would be "no time limit going back into history where people can bring forward their stories".

"We are happy with the direction [of the terms of reference] because it is broad," Mr Bowden said.

Public consultation will be conducted via an online survey on the Department of Social Services website, which asks people to rate the importance of "themes" and a list of "suggested focus areas" as well as open-ended questions about what else should be included in the terms of reference.

The release of the draft terms of reference follows meetings with state and territory governments  and disability peak bodies last week. Government sources said preparations were on track to have Governor-General Peter Cosgrove sign off on the royal commission before the federal election is called in early April.

This story Federal government to pay for disability royal commission first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.