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NDIS minister Bill Shorten clashes with 2GB host Ben Fordham over rogue service provider claims

Labor Secretary Bill Shorten has admitted that rogue criminals have infiltrated the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with some allegedly offering drugs and strippers under the scheme.

As some Australian families with special needs wait months before being approved for NDIS treatment, a provider is said to be offering to take clients to ‘strip clubs’ and cannabis festivals in promotional material.

Radio host Ben Fordham first made the claims about his 2GB breakfast show last December, when the minister’s office said NDIS investigators would look into the provider.

Three months later, Fordham claimed the operator is not only still trading, but is now offering nightclubs, a pub crawl and a weekend getaway in Nimbin in northern NSW for the upcoming Mardi Grass festival.

The activities are all reportedly funded under the NDIS, said Fordham, who demanded answers from the minister in a heated confrontation on Wednesday’s programme.

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten vowed to crack down on unreliable service providers in a fiery radio interview on Wednesday

“I warned you about this gang in December,” Fordham told the minister.

The minister appeared unaware of the new claims about the service provider and vowed to prosecute the case, admitting that “one villain is one too many.”

“I referred it to our investigators, but I don’t know if they closed them or not, but I certainly took action,” he told Fordham.

Mr Shorten also insisted he had never heard of the Mardis Grass in Nimbin until Wednesday, prompting a fiery response from Fordham.

‘Bill! This is the same service provider who took customers for joint stripping last year,” he said angrily.

Mr Shorten hit back at claims he is sitting back and ‘doing it all’, while Fordham demanded more be done about how NDIS funding is spent.

“You’ve got all these people going on NDIS cruises and people going to the weed festival in Nimbin,” the broadcaster said.

“At some point, as a minister, you have to make the tough decision and say, ‘You know what?’ We can only pay a limited amount and put an end to a lot of things.”

Mr Shorten planned to discuss the issue of unreliable providers in Parliament later on Wednesday morning.

“That’s why I’m finally putting a bill in Parliament that will tighten up what people can spend (NDIS) money on,” the minister said.

‘Do I think this should have happened ten years ago? Probably.’

Broadcaster Ben Fordham claimed the NDIS service provider is planning to take customers to the Mardi Grass Festival in Nimbin.  The photo shows previous festival goers

Broadcaster Ben Fordham claimed the NDIS service provider is planning to take customers to the Mardi Grass Festival in Nimbin. The photo shows previous festival goers

Ben Fordham (photo) first expressed his concerns about the service provider three months ago

Ben Fordham (photo) first expressed his concerns about the service provider three months ago

Fordham questioned whether the overhaul should have happened two years ago, after Mr Shorten became NDIS minister when Labor came to power.

He added that there would be funding for legitimate recipients still waiting for the scheme to be approved after an overhaul was carried out a year ago.

“You have to talk to people before you do things,” Mr Shorten replied.

“People with disabilities are tired of everyone being an expert on their lives and I need to talk to them first.”

Mr Shorten admitted there were ‘dodgy providers taking loans’ from the NDIS and pleaded with Fordham to read up on the abuse he receives from them.

He also agreed the NDIS needed a clean-up, despite state premiers resisting major changes and opposition from industry.

“If you want to read my social media, the trolls and the people who say I only have bad things to say about service providers, I want to be very clear: most people on the program are trying to do the right thing, but there is a cohort of dodgy people trying to borrow money for the scheme,” Mr Shorten said.

The minister promised to investigate whether the service provider offers its customers activities such as strip clubs and a weekend getaway to attend Mardi Grass in Nimbin.

The minister promised to investigate whether the service provider offers its customers activities such as strip clubs and a weekend getaway to attend Mardi Grass in Nimbin.

‘There will be people in the disability sector who will scare everyone about how unfair it will be.

“On the other hand, because that’s politics, you (Fordham) will flog us for not happening fast enough.

‘What I am going to do is ensure that the money from the scheme reaches the people for whom the scheme is intended.’

Earlier this week, Mr Shorten announced the creation of a new taskforce to investigate overcharging.

“If you rip off NDIS participants you will be caught and you will have to face the consequences,” he warned.