26 June 2017

Labor calls on the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion to immediately accept the long-awaited Federal Court decision to approve a $10 million funding grant for the Machado Joseph Disease Foundation by the former Labor Government in 2013.

This morning in Senate Estimates Senator McCarthy questioned Minister Scullion on his intentions to overturn the $10 million grant to the organisation.

Minister Scullion said:

I havent seen the courts ruling but I think it is useful to say that we are unlikely to appeal it.

Minister Scullion has been delaying the release of urgently needed funding to Machado Joseph Disease patients across northern Australia.

Todays decision is the second time Senator Scullion has been successfully challenged in the Federal Court by the Machado Joseph Disease Foundation. The Court has reaffirmed that the Minister did not have the power to revoke the decision of the previous Government.

The funding decision of the Labor Government meant the MJD Foundation could provide critical services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Territorians and Queenslanders who are afflicted by Machado Joseph Disease.

MJD is a rareneurodegenerativedisease that can lead to a lack ofmuscle controlandcoordinationof theupperandlower extremities. Its impact can be devastating.

The overtly political and needlessly spiteful actions by Minister Scullion to stop the delivery of this funding has been a disgrace. The Ministers actions have caused uncertainty and stress to patients, families and communities dealing with the ramifications of a terrible disease.

This legal battle has been going since 2014. Minister Scullion has wasted resources and the time of Indigenous Australians dealing with MJD.

The Minister should have respected the original grant as it was clearly made with the agreement of representatives of the ABA. This has been an exercise in ministerial interference at great expense to the Australian taxpayers.

This uncertainty must end today. Minister Scullion must accept the decision of the Federal Court and approve the funds immediately. Its not good enough to say an appeal is unlikely. He must rule it out completely.