Friday 25 December 2020

*Season's Greetings From North Coast Voices, December 2020*

North Coast Voices

Wishes all its readers

A  very happy holiday season

This blog is now going into its annual break and will be back on 1 January 2021.

Thursday 24 December 2020

How the NSW Covid-19 infection numbers stand early Christmas Eve morning 2020



24 December 2020

18 new cases as of 8pm last night:


* 9 new locally acquired cases 

* 7 of which have been confirmed to belong to the Avalon cluster and 2 are under investigation as reside in the Northern Beaches

* Avalon cluster now numbers 104 cases

* 9 new overseas acquired cases.

NSW Health archives its media releases covering the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic at

These media releases show that in the nine days encompassed by 14 to 22 December 2020 the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New South Wales grew by 155 people. However, there were no additional deaths.

23 December 2020

The total number of cases in NSW is now 4,616 since the beginning of the pandemic….. [with 55 deaths recorded]

Of the 16 new cases to 8pm last night:

  • Eight cases are locally acquired, and of these

  • Seven cases are linked to the Avalon cluster

  • One is a close contact of a known case whose source is under investigation

  • Eight cases were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.

22 December 2020

Of the 18 new cases to 8pm last night:

  • Eight cases are locally acquired, and of these

  • Seven cases are linked to the Avalon cluster

  • One case remains under investigation

  • Ten cases were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.

21 December 2029

Of the 23 new cases to 8pm last night:

  • 15 cases are locally acquired and linked to the Avalon cluster

  • Eight were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.

20 December 2020

Of the [36] new cases to 8pm last night:

  • 28 cases are locally acquired and linked to the Avalon cluster

  • Investigations are ongoing into the source of the remaining two cases, both of whom live on the Northern Beaches

  • Six were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.

19 December 2020

Of the [30] new cases to 8pm last night:

  • 21 cases are locally acquired and linked to a known case or cluster (Avalon)

  • Two cases are local acquired with their source under investigation

  • Seven were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.

18 December 2020

Of the [16] new cases to 8pm last night:

  • 15 were locally acquired, and the source of their infections are under investigation.

  • One was acquired overseas and is in hotel quarantine

All 15 of the local cases to 8pm last night are Northern Beaches residents announced yesterday, and NSW Health is undertaking urgent investigation and contact tracing to identify potential links and the sources of the infections.

17 December 2020

[9 news cases to 8 pm last night]

NSW recorded three locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Two additional new locally acquired cases were notified this morning in the Northern Beaches area in a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s.

The source of these two new infections, which will be included in tomorrow’s case numbers, is under investigation and further updates will be provided throughout the day as information becomes available.

NSW Health is now investigating five locally acquired cases. Four are in the Northern Beaches, and one case is a resident of south Sydney.

Six cases were also reported in returned travellers in hotel quarantine in the 24 hours to 8pm last night….

16 December 2020

[7 news cases to 8pm last night]

NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night…..

Seven cases were reported in overseas travellers. NSW Health has been notified this afternoon of two new cases of COVID-19 in people who live in the Northern Beaches area.

The source of these new infections is under investigation. At this stage, no links have been identified to other known cases.

15 December 2020

[5 new cases up to 8pm last night]

NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Five cases were reported in overseas travellers. This brings the total number of cases in NSW since the start of the pandemic to 4,461 [with 55 deaths recorded].

And as annus horribilis 2020 nears its end.......



And on that note, battered by the political, economic, social and public health winds of 2020, I have no more f*cks to give.

Australia ends 2020 as it began - with Scott Morrison refusing to act on mental health policy and program reform

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 December 2020:

At the end of one of the most challenging years we have ever faced in Australia in terms of our collective mental health, and following Prime Minister Morrison’s impassioned release of the long-awaited Productivity Commission report, many have asked what’s the government’s plan of actions for 2021?

Well, it turns out that the answer is yet another inquiry! The terms of reference for this new “Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention” were tabled quietly in the Federal Parliament last Thursday, just before it closed. They state that an interim report is required by April 15, and a final report by November 1, 2021. The Labor spokesperson, Chris Bowen, made it clear the Opposition was not consulted.

No, this is not a repeat episode of Yes, Minister or its sequel Yes, Prime Minister. This committee’s deliberations will sit alongside a range of other reports still being prepared by the National Mental Health Commission (Vision 2030) and the Prime Minister’s special advisor on suicide prevention, Christine Morgan.

At this point, I’d suggest that Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece Waiting for Godot may now be essential Christmas reading for those who as a consequence of where they live, their family income or the severity of their illness are locked out of essential mental health services. For many others, only limited primary care responses were available pre-COVID-19. 


The mental health sector is often criticised by political leaders, and other social commentators, for not being more united in its advocacy or focused in its key "asks" of government. Consequently, it is easy for governments to argue that it is still necessary to hold more stakeholder consultations, parliamentary enquiries, inter-governmental meetings, royal commissions or human rights investigations. 

Frankly, in 2020, these delaying tactics are no longer acceptable. In late October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its annual cause of death data for 2019 . In terms of productive years of life lost, suicide dwarfed all other causes. It accounted for 115,000 years lost annually, with heart disease a distant second (78,000 years lost prematurely). In the COVID-19 era, many expect a worsening mental health toll, particularly among younger people. 

Prior to the October 2020 budget, a broad cross section of the mental health sector presented the Morrison government with a four-year $3.7 billion proposal to implement immediately a range of widely agreed priorities. The sector assumes that the states and territories will also commit funds, workforces and infrastructure to deliver a regionally focused program of work..... [my yellow highlighting]

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Australian Society 2020: and the annual female death by violence count grows


Destroy The Joint

There are 52 weeks in every year. As of 22 December 2020 the Counting Dead Women project has recorded a a total of 54 women who have died violent deaths in Australia, predominately at the hands of their partners, family members or people they knew socially.

A satirical comment on Australian politics and society in 2020


Australia's unique plant species declining in population numbers faster than mammals and birds

The Conversation, excerpt, 16 December 2020:

Plants, such as WA’s Endangered Foote’s grevillea, make our landscape unique.
Andrew Crawford / WA Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions

Australia’s plant species are special - 84% are found nowhere else in the world. The index shows that over about 20 years up to 2017, Australia’s threatened plant populations declined by 72%. This is faster than mammals (which declined by about a third), and birds (which declined by about half). Populations of trees, shrubs, herbs and orchids all suffered roughly similar average declines (65-75%) over the two decades.

Of the 112 species in the index, 68% are critically endangered or endangered and at risk of extinction if left unmanaged. Some 37 plant species have gone extinct since records began, though many others are likely to have been lost before scientists even knew they existed. Land clearing, changed fire regimes, grazing by livestock and feral animals, plant diseases, weeds and climate change are common causes of decline.

Vulnerable plant populations reduced to small areas can also face unique threats. For example, by the early 2000s Foote’s grevillea (Grevillea calliantha) had dwindled to just 27 wild plants on road reserves. Road maintenance activities such as mowing and weed spraying became a major threat to its survival. For other species, like the button wrinklewort, small populations can lead to inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity.... 

Threatened plant conservation in fire-prone landscapes is challenging if a species’ relationship with fire is not known. Many Australian plant species require particular intensities or frequencies of burns for seed to be released or germinate. But since European settlement, fire patterns have been interrupted, causing many plant populations to decline. 

Three threatened native pomaderris shrubs on the NSW South Coast are a case in point. Each of them – Pomaderris adnata, P. bodalla and P. walshii – have failed to reproduce for several years and are now found only in a few locations, each with a small number of plants. 

Experimental trials recently revealed that to germinate, the seeds of these pomaderris species need exposure to hot-burning fires (or a hot oven). However they are now largely located in areas that seldom burn. This is important knowledge for conservation managers aiming to help wild populations persist.... 

A quarter of the species in the threatened plant index are orchids. Orchids make up 17% of plant species listed nationally as threatened, despite comprising just 6% of Australia’s total plant species. 

The endangered coloured spider-orchid (Caladenia colorata) is pollinated only by a single thynnine wasp, and relies on a single species of mycorrhizal fungi to germinate in the wild. 

Yet even for such a seemingly difficult species, conservation success is possible. In one project, scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, aided by volunteers, identified sites where the wasp was still naturally present. More than 800 spider orchid plants were then propagated in a lab using the correct symbiotic fungus, then planted at four sites. These populations are now considered to be self-sustaining. 

In the case of Foote’s grevillea, a plant translocation program has established 500 plants at three new sites, dramatically improving the species’ long-term prospects.

The coloured spider orchid, found in South Australia and Victoria, is endangered. 
Noushka Reiter/Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Tuesday 22 December 2020

It would appear that there are some Northern Beaches residents who don't believe that NSW COVID-19 public health orders apply to them


On the morning of 21 December 2020 the Northern Beaches local government area COVID-19 cluster had grown to 86 individuals.

Commencing at 5:02pm on Saturday 19 December, public health orders were put in place for Northern Beaches residents who have been told they are not to leave their home except to go shopping for food or other goods and services, receive medical care or for compassionate needs, exercise and work and education, where these cannot be done from home.

On 21 December 2020 public health orders were also made for Greater Sydney and the NSW Central Coast as contact tracing showed how far infected individuals and their initial contacts had travelled.

However, nine and a half hours into Monday 21 December Queensland Police had already turned around 81 vehicles and directed 112 people into quarantine as a result of random border checks which revealed they may have come from areas covered by these public health orders.

Unfortunately Queensland Police have also discovered that 4 NSW residents allowed to cross the border on condition that they self-quarantine for 14 days have decided to breach quarantine,

Those who have been in Greater Sydney since 11 December are now being denied entry into Queensland and a 'hard border' is being re-established by the Queensland Government, with returning Queenslanders now having to hotel quarantine if they did not cross the border before 1am today.

To date there have reportedly been 27 close contacts of confirmed Sydney Northern Beaches COVID-19 cases found in Queensland, all of which are now in quarantine, with one returning to NSW. Of these 7 appear not yet to be classified as testing negative for the virus.

People from the Northern Beaches are also travelling within New South Wales, though some may have left the Northern Beaches before public health orders were in place.

A Northern Beaches resident was discovered in Shoalhaven on 21 December 2019, having left his/her home after public health order restrictions came into force in the early evening of 19 December.

School holidays began in New South Wales on 21 December and one can almost guarantee we will hear of more Northern Beaches residents deciding that public health orders don't apply to them.

Trump Administration actively sought to spread COVID-19 infection as late as June 2020 in order to achieve "herd immunity"

"Consistent with a “herd immunity” approach, the evidence obtained by the Select Subcommittee shows that Dr. Alexander privately acknowledged to other appointees that “[w]e always knew” that “cases will rise” as a result of the Administration’s policies. Yet even as he advocated for letting the coronavirus spread widely, Dr. Alexander also attempted to pass blame for the Administration’s failure to contain the virus to career scientists and public health officials. He also urged colleagues to suppress scientific information about the risk posed by the virus to minority communities that he admitted was “very accurate” out of concern that it would be “use[d] against the president.....Documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee show that top Trump Administration officials repeatedly communicated about pursuing a dangerous herd immunity strategy as far back as June 2020, despite public denials that the Administration was adopting this approach.” [U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on the Corona Virus Crisis, Memorandum dated 16 December 2020]

On the morning of the day this article was published the number of COVID-19 deaths in the USA had reached 305,268 men, women and children, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University.

Bloomberg, 17 December 2020: 

A Trump administration official sought to speed the spread of the coronavirus among children and young adults in order to achieve “herd immunity,” according to documents released by a top House Democrat. 

Paul Alexander, a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Humans Services, repeatedly encouraged adoption of a policy to increase the number of virus infections among younger Americans, saying they have “zero to low risk,” according to documents released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. 

In one email message, Alexander said “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc” should be used “to develop herd…we want them infected,” according to the documents released Wednesday. 

“Achieving herd immunity before a vaccine is widely available — which requires a very large portion of the population to get infected with the coronavirus — has been widely rejected by scientists as a dangerous approach that would lead to the deaths of several hundred thousand Americans at a minimum,” Representative James Clyburn, chairman of the panel, said in the memo to members of the committee.....

In a series of messages during the summer, Alexander continued to make the case to other officials to open up college campuses and businesses to increase the spread among the young and relatively healthy, while maintaining distancing measures for the elderly. 

“The issue is who cares? If it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares,” Alexander said in a July message. “As long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes, we must go on with life….who cares if we test more and get more positive tests.”

Monday 21 December 2020

Is opening Sydney back up for Christmas and New Year 2020 the biggest mistake Berejiklian and Morrison can make?


It is an open secret that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has managed to cow fellow Liberal NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, into submission and that she alone of the state and territory leaders now follows his personal position of open state borders and the economy over all other considerations during this global pandemic.

The fallacy that communities, states and the nation can safely learn to live alongside SARS-COV-2 has already been played out in the United Kingdom and the United States of America with catastrophic effect.

Four days out from Christmas Day 2020 and the U.K. has already recorded 67,503 deaths from COVID-19 within the last 11 months and the U.S.A. 316,749 deaths within the last 12 months.

Because Australian states and territories have largely resisted embracing that dangerous fallacy, nationally the country has only recoded 908 COVID-19 deaths in the last 11 months and New South Wales 55 of these deaths.

However, this could change in a heartbeat.

This was Head of the Biosecurity Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Medicine, Professor Raina MacIntyre, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on 20 December 2020 on the subject of the current Northern Beaches COVID-19 cluster:

Forty new cases today may become 120 new cases by Christmas Day. Half of them will have no symptoms and the rest will have mild symptoms so will carry on as normal. The peak infectiousness of this virus is very early in the infection, before symptoms appear, making Christmas Day a ticking time bomb.

People infected today and tomorrow may travel half-way across Sydney for the family Christmas lunch and maybe to another household for dinner, possibly infecting a minimum of 360 new people. The 360 people infected on Christmas Day will be at their peak infectiousness on New Year’s Eve, and could infect more than 1000 others. We could be looking at 3000 cases by January 8. You could not plan a disaster more perfectly if you tried.....

If we do not act urgently, Christmas Day will be a super-spreader, followed by the mother of all super-spreading events, New Year’s Eve. The exhausted NSW public health team may begin 2021 with the largest COVID-19 epidemic the state has ever faced.

The idea of “living with a bit of COVID-19” and soldiering on is a falsehood because of exponential growth of epidemic infections. The health system is the weak link – it is the first part of society to break during pandemics. When hospital and ICU beds are full, health workers dead, ill or quarantined, all other medical care becomes compromised. Even in the Ruby Princess-related outbreak in Tasmania, more than 1000 health workers were quarantined, forcing a hospital shutdown. 

Every city that has laboured under the misapprehension that they can carry on with a bit of community transmission has been forced into lockdown when the health system collapsed.....

Mandating masks across greater Sydney will make a difference, especially as people flood shopping malls in huge numbers for Christmas shopping. Without a mandate, we can expect 30-50 per cent at most to wear masks compared to 100 per cent with a mandate. Making masks compulsory early in an epidemic will prevent many more infections and deaths than one issued at the peak.....

Distorted messaging and hygiene theatre have seen people frantically washing hands and wiping surfaces but remaining unaware of masks and ventilation to reduce airborne transmission, which is the dominant mode of spread. Further, 80 per cent of spread occurs indoors.....

If this epidemic has not dwindled to single-digit numbers by Christmas, we need to ban indoor gatherings on New Year’s Eve, including dance parties, nightclubs, pubs and restaurants. If we don’t, these businesses may face even longer closures in the months ahead, as occurred in Melbourne with a three-month lockdown. 

Finally, we must prepare and protect our health and aged care workers. More than 7000 health workers had died of COVID-19 by September globally, and Australian health workers had three times the risk of COVID-19 compared to the general community. We should not wait until 3500 of them are infected (as occurred in Victoria) before providing them better respiratory protection. We should be using the precautionary principle and recognising that the occupational health and safety of health workers lags far behind other industries. 

All planning must consider the exponential growth of epidemics, the role of social mixing and movement in transmission of SARS-COV-2, the calamitous timing of New Year’s Eve within one incubation period of Christmas Day on, and the magnitude of risk this poses. At the same time, we must aim high and aim for herd immunity through vaccination so we do not have to face this situation again.” 

“A big shout out to all of our first responders, particularly volunteer SES crews, for their exemplary work in several life-saving rescues, completing hundreds of call-outs for assistance, and monitoring and sandbagging across the region" during recent flooding - Janelle Saffin MLA

Saffin welcomes disaster assistance for our Electorate

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has welcomed news that natural disaster assistance will flow to flood and storm-affected residents, councils, businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations in Lismore City, Tweed and Kyogle Local Government Areas.

Ms Saffin yesterday (17 December) joined NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott, NSW State Emergency Services Commissioner Carlene York, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Lismore Deputy Mayor Cr Neil Marks at SES Northern Rivers Command Centre in Goonellabah, where the relief was confirmed under the joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan were also there for the announcement.

Ms Saffin said she was with Minister Elliott in Tenterfield and Drake on Wednesday (16 December) and had hoped a natural disaster declaration would be made promptly.

This was before Lismore was thrown into afternoon chaos by torrential rain and flash flooding,” Ms Saffin said.

I thank Minister Elliott and his Federal counterpart, Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud, for recognising that Lismore’s flash flood and the evacuations and damage associated with flooding in South Murwillumbah and Tumbulgum this week were very serious events.

Lessons have been learnt from major floods in 2017, where the disaster assistance did not meet the need to repair and restore the catastrophic damage to Lismore and Murwillumbah.

A big shout out to all of our first responders, particularly volunteer SES crews, for their exemplary work in several life-saving rescues, completing hundreds of call-outs for assistance, and monitoring and sandbagging across the region this past week.”

Assistance available under the DRFA may include:

  • Help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged

  • Support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets

  • Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations

  • Freight subsidies for primary producers, and

  • Grants to eligible non-profit organisations.

For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

To apply for a concessional loan or grant, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit

Further information on disaster assistance is available on the NSW emergency information and response website at and on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at

Friday, 18 December 2020.

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission takes Facebook Inc to Federal Court over allegedly misleading and deceptive conduct, December 2020


Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, media release, 16 December 2020:

ACCC alleges Facebook misled consumers when promoting app to 'protect' users' data

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Facebook, Inc. and two of its subsidiaries for false, misleading or deceptive conduct when promoting Facebook’s Onavo Protect mobile app to Australian consumers.

Onavo Protect was a free downloadable software application providing a virtual private network (VPN) service.

The ACCC alleges that, between 1 February 2016 to October 2017, Facebook and its subsidiaries Facebook Israel Ltd and Onavo, Inc. misled Australian consumers by representing that the Onavo Protect app would keep users’ personal activity data private, protected and secret, and that the data would not be used for any purpose other than providing Onavo Protect’s products.

In fact, the ACCC alleges, Onavo Protect collected, aggregated and used significant amounts of users’ personal activity data for Facebook’s commercial benefit. This included details about Onavo Protect users’ internet and app activity, such as records of every app they accessed and the number of seconds each day they spent using those apps.

This data was used to support Facebook’s market research activities, including identifying potential future acquisition targets.

Through Onavo Protect, Facebook was collecting and using the very detailed and valuable personal activity data of thousands of Australian consumers for its own commercial purposes, which we believe is completely contrary to the promise of protection, secrecy and privacy that was central to Facebook’s promotion of this app,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

Consumers often use VPN services because they care about their online privacy, and that is what this Facebook product claimed to offer. In fact, Onavo Protect channelled significant volumes of their personal activity data straight back to Facebook.”

We believe that the conduct deprived Australian consumers of the opportunity to make an informed choice about the collection and use of their personal activity data by Facebook and Onavo,” Mr Sims said.

The Onavo Protect website stated that the app would “save, measure and protect” users’ mobile data, while advertisements on Facebook’s website and app included statements such as “Keep it secret. Keep it safe… Onavo Protect, from Facebook”.

The ACCC is seeking declarations and pecuniary penalties.

The attached document below contains the ACCC’s initiating court document in relation to this matter. We will not be uploading further documents in the event this initial document is subsequently amended. 

Concise statement 

ACCC v Facebook Inc & Ors_ Concise Statement ( PDF 2.34 MB ) 


US-based Facebook, Inc. owns global social media and private messaging platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. 

US-based Onavo, Inc. and Onavo Mobile Ltd, based in Israel, were mobile analytics companies that were acquired by Facebook in October 2013. After the acquisition Onavo Mobile became Facebook Israel Ltd. 

Apple removed Onavo Protect from its App store in 2018 for non-compliance with its developer terms such as, among other things, collecting information about other apps installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics. It was later also removed from the Google Play store and was discontinued in 2019. 

The ACCC’s Digital platforms inquiry final report examined a range of issues involving digital platforms and consumers, including concerns about Onavo Protect and how its users’ data was being collected and used. 

In December 2020, in an unrelated action, the US Federal Trade Commission (US FTC) brought proceedings against Facebook, alleging that the company is illegally maintaining its personal social networking monopoly through a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct. The US FTC alleges that Facebook engaged in a systematic strategy including its 2012 acquisition of Instagram and 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp, and the imposition of anticompetitive conditions on software developers to eliminate threats to its monopoly. The court documents filed by the US FTC refer to Facebook’s use of Onavo Protect data to identify future acquisitions as part of the allegation that Facebook is illegally maintaining a monopoly.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Upgrade of NSW section of Pacific Highway finally completed in 2020


It has taken around twenty-four years but the $15 billion 657km Pacific Highway upgrade, from Hexham a suburb of Newcastle to the Queensland border, is now complete.

The prime minister celebrated this fact at New Italy on the Far North Coast – even though he personally had little to do with the planning, implementation or funding of most of this upgrade. Not being a member of parliament when the project began and only being part of a federal government for the final seven years.

Left to right: Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan, Deputy Prime Minister & Nationals MP Michael McCormack, Prime Minister & Liberal MP Scott Morrison, NSW Premier & Liberal MP Gladys Berejiklian

Current road toll

Between 1 January 2020 & 17 December, 292 people have been killed on NSW roads - 178 on country roads [NSW Transport, 18 December 2020].

At least 10 of these deaths were on the Pacific Highway.

Media reports revealed that one person was killed just north of Sydney, one on the Central Coast near Lake Munmorah, one on the Mid-North coast at Nabiac, one at Charlestown, one at Harwood in the Clarence Valley, two were further north about 5kms south of Woodburn, one south of Tweed Heads, another across the Queensland border at Nerang and one down south at Albury near the Victorian border.

Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2020-21

In December 2019 the Morrison Coalition Government was handed the Review of the NDIS Act report.

This report was published and reported on in January 2020 and the Morrison Government released its formal response in August 2020.

Concerns about details in the Morrison Government's response and other statements by the department and minister responsible led the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme to issue this media release on 16 December 2020:


The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will conduct an inquiry into independent assessments under the NDIS. 

An independent assessment is an assessment of a person’s functional capacity, which will be used to inform decisions about eligibility for the NDIS and about funding in a participant’s plan. 

The National Disability Insurance Agency proposes to introduce independent assessments as part of the NDIS access and planning processes in 2021. 

“Through its other inquiries, the committee has heard that many stakeholders—particularly in the disability and allied health sectors—have strong concerns about the independent assessments process, and about how assessments will be used to inform access and planning decisions,” Committee Chair, the Hon Kevin Andrews said. 

The inquiry will have a particular focus on: 

• the rationale for introducing independent assessments into the NDIS, and the evidence to support this decision; 

• the assessment process and its impacts; 

• the implications of independent assessments for NDIS access and planning decisions; and 

• the appropriateness of independent assessments for particular cohorts of people with disability. 

The committee is particularly interested in hearing from people with disability, families and carers; allied health professionals; and representative organisations. 

Full terms of reference for the inquiry are published on the committee’s website. 

The closing date for submissions to the inquiry is 31 March 2021.

Terms of reference and guide to making a submission can be found at: