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Tag Archives: NDIS

Scrap the digital workhouse. An open letter to Tony Burke.

We know you are new in your job, Tony and face not only the huge demands of your portfolio but a backlog of catastrophic ineptitude and deceit left you by a Morrison government whose criminal negligence of health and welfare was rivalled only by its pandering to corporate oligarchs and its bent for wholesale corruption, but can you, please, reconsider Pbas?

Pbas is the points-based system that the Coalition was keen to inflict on job-seekers, a jobactive revamp it promoted as “more flexible” than mandatory job application. It’s not. It’s Liberal propaganda designed to pillory job seekers for being out of work. Lazy dole-bludgers. Political point-scoring. Baked into it is unconscionable, sadistic cruelty and victim-blaming. It’s the antithesis of everything we’ve come to associate with Labor.

Above all, Pbas won’t work. It’s too complex. It’s discriminatory and opaque. Users are at the mercy of a computer that decides if they’ve earned enough points. Of course, there are numbers to ring and visits you can make but have you ever tried to visit or ring Centrelink? Now Services Australia, another brave new oxymoron, says it is cutting work to outsourced call centres by thirty per cent. It’s as if they’ve set up the new system and Labor to fail. It’s a $7 billion dollar booby trap. You don’t want to crash and burn so soon after winning office.

Clients also are set up to fail. 200,000 people every month had payments suspended in Jobactive. Who knows how they met their rent or bought their groceries? ACOSS warns that Pbas will replicate this cruelty. It takes the Jobactive debacle and makes it worse.

It’s cruel. Pbas will make it harder for the poor and needy to get support, in the same ways that Morrison’s regime restricted access to the NDIS and individuals had their funding cut. Liberals love to scare us into believing that welfare is a crippling financial liability. Yet corporate welfare is vital. Billions are blown in subsidies to wealthy corporate donors. But look after the aged, the disabled, the poor and the needy? A burden we can’t afford. Nonsense. In fact, there are huge economic benefits in being a responsible government supporting and empowering all Australians. Take the NDIS as an example.

The economic benefit of the NDIS in 2020/21 was $52.4 billion, according to Per Capita. It adds economic activity worth $29 billion to $23.3 billion in NDIS spending. $2.25 was delivered to the economy for every dollar spent, it calculates. Conversely, there are huge costs beyond every pension dollar withheld. Consider the harm Pbas does to a jobseeker’s self-esteem. Bad enough you’re between jobs – or that you can’t get enough hours. Now you’re going to incur demerits as you lose points on Pbas.

Imagine the emotional labour and frustration of having to navigate a system so absurdly arbitrary and punitive that it is dubbed “Hunger Games meets Black Mirror”.

No wonder job seekers sampled recently used the word “suicidal” in their responses to how the new scheme could make them feel. Surely Labor could heed the warnings. No-one has forgotten or forgiven Robodebt. Do you really want to go down this path?

Not only will many be set up to fail the test, which favours the more literate job-seeker with resources such as access to a digital device, internet and time, but Pbas fails us as a compassionate, civil society. It fails Labor, too. If Labor still believes in a fair go. Has Labor done any research? Monash University’s David O’Halloran has conducted an online survey. His 447 job seekers were not only worried about getting a hundred points, a key feature of the system, they were afraid they’d be penalised, another design highlight.

Best heed the early warnings. Listen, as the PM promised he would listen to all Australians. Do you really want to continue the welfare terrorism of Coalition governments?

O’Halloran reckons, “ … harm was actually being designed into the system”.

In his view it’s “still based on the assumption, if you’re unemployed, you don’t want to work”.

I know, Labor supported Pbas in the last government. It’s tricky. Small target strategy can mean you snooker yourself. But you are the government. You can scrap it tomorrow. I’ve read your press releases. You’ve “tweaked it”, you say. But you can’t polish a turd. Pbas is hurtful. It’s been designed that way.

The same crew who brought us Robodebt. presents, Robo Task. Ta-Da. Starring a nifty computer algorithm to cut off your funds. Pbas is not a humane welfare system – but a digital workhouse set up to brutalise people in desperate economic need and push them out of the system and onto the street,” warns The Unemployed Workers Union. Bill Shorten uses the same image.

You’ll need to be computer-savvy, too. As ACOSS helpfully points out. “Your payment may be suspended if you do not complete the report for your points at the end of your reporting period. You will need to report these points to stop your payment from being suspended.” But let’s say you get your hundred points. How helpful is the site?

I just did a search on your new Jobactive 2.0 website. Guess what? As with everything else Morrison, it’s a dud. There’s not a single job in our regional town of around 9,000 people. Petrol is up to $2.20 a litre in town but there are a few jobs if you travel an hour each day. That’s just if you are lucky enough to get an interview. The bigger centres have plenty of locals on their books and an industry of job agencies. But PBAS is more than a website, of course, it’s a points system masquerading as self-help in that unctuous, patronising, condescending tone trademark of the Morrison horror-show.

Here’s a sample.

“Do you want to improve your English, reading and writing skills? Improving these skills could help you find a job or lead to other study or employment opportunities. The Skills for Education and Employment program is a free program that can provide you with training to improve your reading, writing, maths and digital skills.” Of course, it will. It will also improve the bottom line of the Pbas tutorial agencies that will pullulate, like mushrooms in the dark, all over the country, overnight.

The SEE program will help you overcome obstacles and achieve your career goals. You’ll gain new skills and confidence and learn alongside others with similar experience. The training is flexible to suit you, so you can do full or part-time, in a classroom or at home. You can even gain a certificate-level qualification through the SEE program. To see if you can join, contact your Employment Services Provider or Centrelink.”

Life’s hard enough if you’re one of the 1,360,100, the ABS reckons are unemployed, underemployed or unlucky enough to be retired but too young to go on the pension. You must make do on a pittance that is below the poverty line.

There is a full-blown crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of Australians who face vegetable price rises of 27% annually, pro-rata over the first three months of this year. Basics such as baked beans and sausages are up 20%-30%.

The penurious amount paid to Centrelink pensioners is a national scandal that governments are able to ignore because they are marginalised and voiceless. Helping is a Murdoch-led media which is keen to scapegoat those out of work as bludgers. Yet steep rises in the cost of food, rent, power and fuel are turning crisis into catastrophe. You own five houses, Tony, You enjoy a high salary, generous allowances, a top superannuation scheme and you’ve just had a 2.75 per cent pay rise. Can you even begin to imagine what it’s like to have to get by on fifty-four dollars a day? (With rental assistance.)

We have a clear idea because our wonderful 37-year-old daughter has to do just that. Matilda’s degenerative bone disease means she’s in continuous pain. She’ll need two new hip replacements shortly. It’s seven months to see a pain specialist.

Centrelink puts hurdles in her way. Her pain can only get worse yet Matilda must continuously get certificates from a GP to be exempt from applying for jobs she’s got no show of ever getting, let alone doing and which are scarce enough in a regional town. Fifty-four dollars if you qualify for rent assistance looks pitiful against the $291 per day that you can claim for accommodation in Canberra. It’s more if you have to stay in other cities. Unlike your job, Tony, with your accommodation and your travel allowances, there’s no fringe benefits in Matilda’s job. Matilda doesn’t get enough hours at her workplace where she’s worked for seven years without sick leave or benefits because she’s a “permanent casual”, an oxymoronic term embracing up to a quarter of the workforce.

The way workplaces are run these days means that more and more Australians are working casual shifts. It saves the boss a fortune but work itself becomes ever more precarious. And stressful. Along with many other young workers with special needs, our daughter has difficulty coping with change. I’m our daughter’s nominee in dealing with Centrelink but there’s been no warning of the change. It starts July 1st. Granted, no-one will be penalised in the first month but it will take all of that to get over the shock of having the rules changed so suddenly and without any consultation, whatsoever, with prospective users. The PM promises a government that will listen. How hard would it be to consult those vulnerable men and women who must suffer your grand design? At $7 billion dollars, Pbas is an unwarranted extravagance for any government let alone a Labor government which has its origins in looking after workers and their families. It’s just another costly way to punish the 548,100 unemployed and the 821,000 the ABS tells us are underemployed. (It’s far more than these statistics show given the way data is collected.)

You are not unemployed for example if you live on a family farm or are part of a family business and do one hour’s work a week unpaid. You do not enter unemployment statistics if you have given up looking for work. Or if you have given up on the system altogether because it’s all too hard. Is that your aim, Tony? Save the welfare spend by getting the poor job-seeker to drop out? We hope not. But if you continue with Pbas that’s what will happen. Not to mention the confusion, suffering and distress you will inflict on some of our most vulnerable by proceeding with a points-based system that is unworkable, unfair and downright cruel.

A society can be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members. So far, Labor is breaking its election promise to be a government for all Australians by proceeding with a job-seeker system that discriminates against the powerless, poor and marginalised worker who has too few hours or who, increasingly, may be unable to find work. Would the women and the young people who voted for you, have done so had they known you were simply going down the Morrison government’s road of punishing the poor and vulnerable? You say it’s too late to change. It’s not. You’re in government. You can halt Pbas immediately. Dismantle the digital workhouse. Jobseekers, the aged and the disabled don’t need more ways to make them feel they are a burden. Take the $37 billion you are going to give to the rich. Use it to help create fair and liveable pensions instead.

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One Sign Of Intelligence Is Being Able To Change Your Mind or Why Scott Morrison Is Einstein!

Remember just a few years ago when we were told that we needed to be “energy agnostic”. Well, all that’s out the window. Apparently we now have to build a church to gas because the private operators have decided that they’d rather invest in something profitable.

Why do I call it “a church”? That’s because – like a church – it will be large and unused for much of the time and in future generations people will look at it and go, “Wow, what a large structure. I wonder why they spent so much money and something with no practical purpose. They must have really believed that someone would reward them in the next life!” (In the case of the Coalition, that’s Life After Politics!)

It’s very tempting to point out that once we took it for granted that governments would be responsible for building the infrastructure that enabled us to generate energy, but we were told by the Liberal Party that private industry was a lot better at it and market forces would make the whole thing a lot more efficient. Now we’re being told that the market has failed because the market relies on making a profit and nobody in private industry is keen to build a gas-fired power station for the simple reason that it’s not economically viable.

Of course, I shouldn’t criticise the Liberals for changing their mind and completely repudiating their free market principles and totally embracing socialism. After all, it’s only the intelligent who can change their minds. At least I think that’s true…

Whatever, the Liberals are certainly good at changing their minds. Sometimes they’ll even do it from one interview to the next.

Remember when they told us that people don’t need the government making decisions for them and that individuals were best placed to decide what to spend their money on… Of course, this was before they realised that once they got the Indue card out and accepted, they could eventually roll it out to pensioners and then the rest of us and we could only shop at approved Liberal donor stores.

Remember when Scotty was all about opening up the borders but then he saw how successful various state premiers were with their border closures. Now he’s determined to keep Australia’s borders closed until… well, it’s not like he intends to set a date because targets are for the accountable. We can’t say when borders will be open again, even with the majority vaccinated. As he put it: “Even in that circumstance, you’re talking about many Australians, millions of Australians, who wouldn’t have been vaccinated. Because A, they’re children or B, they’ve chosen not to be [vaccinated].” Unvaccinated children a concern? Is this different from “Schools are safe, I can’t be any clearer than that!” Too right it is, which just shows the intelligence of the man because he’s apparently changed his mind.

Remember when they labelled that ad about the vaccines with the Liberal Party logo? Well there’s another example of them changing their mind. Now they want bipartisan support for the rollout. Surely, Labor have to take part responsibility. Why? Well, they said that the logo shouldn’t be there because it was the government who were providing the vaccines and aren’t Labor an alternative government?

And then we have the NDIS which just a couple of Budgets ago was so awash with funds that Josh Frydenberg could take $4.7 billion from it to put us into surplus. While at $4.7 billion, those “Back In Black” coffee seemed overpriced, that’s nothing compared to the unsustainable nature of the NDIS now. We need to stop those “empathetic public servants” from giving wheelchairs to people. Everyone needs to stand on their own two feet even if they have no legs. Yes, social media was very cruel and mocked Linda Reynolds about her heart condition, but even she agrees that’s better than being awash with empathy like those public servants who fail to push those on the NDIS to get better. Our PM does believe in miracles, as we all know.

And Scotty’s changed his mind on debt and deficit too. We’re going to have deficits for the next ten years according to #Scottyfromannouncements. Yes, ok, Hockey said that the Liberals would deliver a surplus in their first year of government and every year thereafter but they changed their mind about that, as well as Hockey being Treasurer. And about having a stable government who didn’t change Prime Ministers. Of course it would be unfair to bring up how the Liberals changed their minds about Abbott’s rolled gold maternity leave, because that’s so many Prime Ministers ago.

Some of you will be expecting that I’ll also be pointing out the PM’s changing his mind on electric vehicles, but apparently he hasn’t. He told us that he never mocked EVs in the lead up to the 2019 election. No, no, he was complaining about Bill Shorten ruining the weekend by simply being PM and that would have ruined the weekend of everyone who mattered so EVs had nothing to do with it.

Yes, I can certainly recommend that you vote for Scott Morrison in the upcoming election which he assures won’t be held until next year, so I’d expect it in about three months. Even if you don’t like his policies and what he announces, there’s a better than fifty percent chance that they’ll never be implemented and that he’ll change them before the month is out. You can be content knowing that if you don’t like, for example, his intention to build a gas-fired power station, that once they’ve bought the land from the Liberal donor, and once they’ve spent a few million on consultants, they’ll change their mind and sell the land to a firm who wants to make electric vehicles or develop it for social housing.

I suppose you’ve noticed that lately, Mr Morrison seems to have a booklet in hands every time he appears in the media. Perhaps he’s working on the next slogan. “Liberals: We Have A Plan AND a Pamphlet.”

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An Open Letter to Stuart Robert

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Robert,

My name is Elliot Dolan-Evans and I am a voter in Footscray, Melbourne. I am currently completing a PhD at Monash University in political economy and feminist studies, I am a registered medical practitioner, and a law graduate awaiting admittance to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

I write this open letter to condemn the Robodebt Centrelink Scheme unequivocally and urge you to stop enforcing the unsubstantiated debts of vulnerable Australians. If this scheme is to continue at all, which it should not, then any Australian being contacted by Centrelink must be provided with all documents (including the Debt Schedule) that demonstrates the alleged debt, along with calculations and notes determining the alleged debt made by Centrelink, and free legal advice to effectively and fairly challenge it.

As a legal graduate, I am greatly concerned that the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have been contacted by Centrelink have not been given due process under the law. There is a lack of information provided by Centrelink in the first instance to their Robodebt, and even on subsequent requests for proof, Centrelink do not provide the required documents. I have been assisting several friends, colleagues and vulnerable members of the community, and not once has the Debt Schedule of the person alleged to have a debt ever voluntarily sent by Centrelink. Only through FOI requests does this occur, which is a process most Australians do not know how to initiate. Then, when the Debt Schedule is provided, there are no notes, no workings, and no indication as to how the Robodebt has been calculated. A vast majority of Australians do not understand their rights concerning Robodebt claims, do not know the correct process in obtaining documentation, and community legal clinics are so under-funded in this country, by the Australian government, there is no capacity to assist.

As a medical doctor, I am severely concerned that the harassment of vulnerable Australians with Robodebt claims is having a deleterious outcome on mental, and subsequently, physical health. The number of people that I have assisted, who are all predominantly university graduates and young, have been devastated mentally by the ordeal of Centrelink harassment and the quick referral to aggressive debt collectors. This is undeniably translating to poor physical health, and I have serious concerns for those more vulnerable. This is without mentioning the incredibly burdensome financial costs of unproven and unsubstantiated Robodebts. I assert, again, that these debts are unproven and unsubstantiated until Centrelink properly provides all documentation and explanation to those it is trying to extract money from. Otherwise, it is a complete abuse of government power and intimidation, towards people who generally do not have the tools and knowledge to challenge these Robodebts.

Again, I demand that the Centrelink Robodebt Scheme is immediately halted. The physical, financial, and mental impacts that it is having on Australians is absolutely and unequivocally damaging and is fundamentally unjust. For all of those who have been accused of having a debt, whether paid or not, Centrelink must provide all documentation relating to their debt immediately and provide free legal advice to help navigate these damaging accusations.

Kind Regards,

Elliot Dolan-Evans MBBS, LLB (Hons), BAppSci (Hons)

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NDIS red-tape leaves vulnerable Victorians in abusive homes

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Vulnerable Victorians living in disability accommodation remain in abusive situations for months due to NDIS bureaucracy.

This was a key finding the Community Visitors Annual Report, tabled in State Parliament today.

Nearly half of all serious incidents in disability group homes reported by the visitors each year relate to violence between co-residents, with 133 notifications being made this year to the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC). [p. 19]

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that despite the number of recent inquiries into violence against people with disability, co-resident violence had received “little practical attention.”

The visitors report [p. 22] that one female resident suffered traumatic abuse from another but had been unable to move to another group home for at least five months, despite the support of her legal advocate and the DSC.

NDIS participants require their plans to be reviewed to move from one group home to another, even if the funding is the same. As well, an occupational therapist’s assessment is needed, however, NDIA pre-approval is needed first which involves a lengthy wait then a ten-week wait before the assessment and, only then, can a plan review be scheduled, which generally takes months.

In this case, the assessment was rescheduled several times from February because the NDIS delegate or the resident’s lawyer were unavailable.

Dr Pearce said that resident-on-resident violence and abuse in group homes was not uncommon.

“There are multiple instances where residents have expressed to Community Visitors how fearful they are in their own homes, and how they often choose to stay in their own rooms rather than interact in shared living spaces.”

Other issues identified include inappropriate environment for residents, lack of continuity of staffing and use of restrictive interventions.

This year, 266 volunteer Community Visitors made 2952 visits to 1148 units across the state, identifying 3806 new issues.

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Turnbull: From Diamond to Deviant. Oh! How He Has Fallen

I felt sick today. Truly sick. Malcolm Turnbull dangled people with disabilities as political pawns. He used vulnerable people as pawns to pressure Labor to support harsh cuts to welfare or he would hold off on the NDIS. Turnbull has now slid all the way from Diamond to Deviant. There is absolutely no coming back from this.

Tawdry Deals Between the Sheets

Before Turnbull had to whisper tawdry deals to Pauline Hanson between the sheets; he was so proud of the NDIS. When he thought he was invincible in September, 2015 he said this about signing agreements for the NDIS.

This marks a huge milestone towards the delivery of one of the largest social policy reforms in our nation’s history.

Fast forward post the 2016 election, Turnbull returns by the skin of his teeth. No longer popular with the people. No longer popular with his party. A whipping boy for the rancid right and now plays kissing cousins for real with Pauline Hanson – the Jimmy Swaggart of the Racist Set.

All Hail Turnbull – A Diamond

In 2015, he was considered a diamond. Precious and rare. A Prime Minister who would never lose his sparkle. In that point in time, in all his verbose puffery, he wailed glorious over the benefits of the NDIS.

I am proud our Governments are securing a sustainable NDIS that will be available to all who need it and I want to thank all of those who have worked so hard to get us here.

All Hail Turnbull – A Deviant

Today, just 17 months later Turnbull dismissed the NDIS as a burdensome cost to the taxpayer. A shameful political defence that reduced some of our most vulnerable people, who need our support, love and pro-community solidarity, into nothing more than a stigmatising liability on the taxpayer.

He then drew the “Hanson card” and pitted the oppressed against the oppressed. A tactic normally reserved to pit the homeless against the refugees; he used this card to pit jobless youth living under the poverty line against people with a disability

In a dehumanising fashion that literally made my skin crawl and my stomach flop; he did something so abhorrently repulsive, I could not believe my ears.

What Was He Thinking

I know I have already expressed I was shocked. I still am, hours later. Listening to this today, I was appalled. I couldn’t imagine what sort of person I would have to become to do this. How would I feel? What would I be thinking about? How could I look a person with a disability in the face again?

I really want to know what was going through his head. What was he feeling. Not that he would reply but I just had to tweet him this. If a journalist can ask him face to face that would be great.

Turnbull threatened to withhold assistance for people with a disability they have been waiting years for, unless Labor signed off on harsh reductions in welfare. This includes a reduction in payment for Newstart and withholding payment from new recipients for four weeks. Over 25% of people on Newstart also have a disability.

The choice Turnbull gave Labor is sickening and can be summed up as:

Sign up to push unemployed young people into more poverty and homelessness or the disabled kid gets it.

 

How Far He Has Fallen

The Prime Minister is showing an obvious contempt for people with a disability. The tirade towards Bill Shorten calling Shorten a parasite; clearly shows this was a case of psychological projection where Turnbull was bellowing out his deepest feelings about himself. Today he was on display as a parasitic, loathsome creature.

I would not normally be so harsh; but his behaviour today was nothing short of contemptible. I have no other words. I’m sorry.

In 2017, the transition from diamond to deviant is complete. Turnbull now holds views that are incompatible with civil society. Oh! How he has fallen!

Turnbull Holds the NDIS Hostage. Please sign the petition below.

Click to Sign the Petition Below

petition

Originally Published on The Red Window Blog

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Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

When Julia Gillard left office we had a carbon price in place, a burgeoning renewable energy industry, and the respect of the world as leaders in taking action on climate change. The system had not been perfected but it was underway and open to refinement with expert bodies set up to advise us on the best way forward.

Now we are advised on climate change by Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton. Billions of investment dollars have been lost due to the abandonment of the Renewable Energy Target. Instead, we are pinning our economic future on coal whilst killing our natural wonders and tourism industry. Instead of collecting $10 billion from polluters, encouraging them to move to clean practices, we will give them $3 billion to do their upgrades while we pay for the research – a $13 billion turnaround in revenue.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had a mining tax that paid us a small but growing dividend for the huge profits being made by selling our resources. Once again, it was not ideal but at least it was in place and the original concessions like accelerated depreciation were running out.

Now we have no mining tax which, even according to Hockey’s pessimistic outlook, will cost the budget about $5.5 billion in foregone revenue.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had signed agreements with most states and territories for hospital and school funding. To get the federal funding, the states had agreed to matching proportional funding, locking both parties in, and to accountability reviews where standards had to be achieved to maintain funding support.

Now we have reneged on those agreements, cut $80 billion in funding from health and education, released states from their obligation to direct set amounts into these areas and from accountability goals, and seem on the road to privatising both sectors and increasing the GST.

When Julia Gillard left office, the rollout of a world class National Broadband network was underway where over 90% of us would have fibre to the premises. There were teething problems as there would be with any such undertaking, but the contracts were signed, the plan was made, and premises were being connected at an increasing rate.

Now the rollout has slowed down while Malcolm Turnbull conducts three reviews into why Labor was bad. In the meantime we have no contract with Telstra, who are in a monopoly situation, who can hold out for the best deal for their shareholders (note the dividends this year were higher?). We will now get some mix of technology sometime, maybe, but certainly not soon and definitely more expensive in the long run.

When Julia Gillard left office, the orders had been given to bring home our troops from Afghanistan.

Now we are sending them back to Iraq and farewelling them with a wage cut.

[And before anyone mentions the one year freezing of politicians’ wages, could I point out that in the 16 months leading to July last year, they received three payrises, delivering a salary boost of $54,220 or more than $1000 a week since March the previous year.]

When Julia Gillard was in office, she was unable to get her media reform laws passed that would have protected against ownership monopoly, and against factually incorrect reporting. Who could forget the screams of censorship and the Murdoch photoshopping.

Now we have the possibility that the Attorney-General can decide to prosecute and incarcerate a journalist for ten years for telling the truth about what our government bodies are doing.

When Julia Gillard left office, pensions were indexed to rise with Average Male Weekly Earnings which kept their standard of living relative to the community.

Now pensions will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. The proposal to change the indexation, due to commence in 2017, would cut the value of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Veterans’ pension and Carer Payment by an estimated $80 a week within ten years. Despite the anger the changes sparked, they raised a modest $449 million over five years.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had a universal health care system that was the envy of the world.

Now we will have to pay every time we see the doctor or have a test and our Pharmaceutical Benefits System will be at the mercy of free trade agreements.

When Julia Gillard left office, we finally had universal agreement for a National Disability Insurance Scheme funded by an increase to the Medicare levy, a move widely accepted by the population, even if the Opposition didn’t bother to turn up for the introduction of the legislation of this groundbreaking reform in Parliament.

Now we find Mitch Fifield tasked with the job of holding it up for as long as he can while he conducts… you guessed it… more reviews.

The third quarterly report on the NDIS, released in May, makes clear that there is no case for any cut, cap or delay to the NDIS but Tony wants a surplus so I guess he will collect our increased levy and sit on it while he pays consultant mates to recommend winding it back or leaving it to Labor to pay for.

“In response to the capability review, the Agency has developed an action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme rollout.” – Mitch Fifield, March 2014

Senator Fifield’s comment echoes previous statements from senior Coalition figures that indicate the national start date of 2018-19 could be pushed back.

CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Creswell, said:

“The NDIS has an inbuilt review, a cost review at this point in time is both curious and concerning. Costs are right on track, package numbers are consistent and hopes are high. We need to move forward, not tread water while we undertake yet another review.”

[ARA CRESWELL, CARERS AUSTRALIA, 1 MAY 2014]

Kevin Stone, President of the National Council on Intellectual Disability said:

“…we expect the State and Territory Premiers and Treasurers to stand by people with disability and their families and stand firm against any attempts to change the agreements made”.

[KEVIN STONE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, 1 MAY 2014]

What will be next?

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’

-Martin Niemoller

 

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Haters want to hate

It’s clear Australian voters aren’t rational, but do they have to be so blatantly mindless as well? When I say voters, I’m currently referring in this context to the people recently polled by ReachTEL and whose responses contributed to this headline on News.com:

“Voters trust Opposition Leader Tony Abbott most to deliver NDIS, poll reveals”

I had to read this a couple of times before I believed what I was seeing. The figures in the article state that 57% of the poll’s respondents trust Tony Abbott to deliver the NDIS, more so than they trust Julia Gillard. Surely, even someone completely rusted onto the Liberal party, even Peta Credlin, even Gina Rinehart, even Rupert Murdoch, even Alan Jones, even Tony Abbott himself must see the inanity in this poll result. The NDIS is Labor’s policy. It was the work of Bill Shorten, and only with Julia Gillard’s support did it have any hope in hell in getting a name, let alone being successfully implemented. Tony Abbott supported Labor’s NDIS policy after many months of non-commitment, only after it became obvious that if he didn’t, he would be seen as the scrooge we all know him to be. But just because he supported it, does not mean he gives a crap about it. He never raised such a scheme as even an idea when he was in government for many years. And when the policy did finally pass the lower house, much to the joy of the Labor MPs who worked tirelessly to make it happen, Tony Abbott and his team weren’t even there to see it happen. Because they couldn’t bear to be seen celebrating a policy win by the Labor government. A Labor government policy. So on what far off planet do these voters live if they think Abbott would be the better person to deliver a policy that was designed and successfully passed through the Parliament by Gillard’s Labor government?

At this point I’m pretty much ready to say to Australian voters, wake the f*ck up. Could you really be so misinformed by the Murdoch, Fairfax and ABC press, so out of touch with the policy platforms of the two major parties, and so ready to hate everything Julia Gillard does, that even when her government successfully implements a policy of huge national significance, you give Abbott the credit?

Perhaps this isn’t just a sign of an electorate that is completely uninterested with the roles played by the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in delivering the landmark NDIS policy. Perhaps it’s a sign of just how disengaged ordinary voters are from, well, political reality.

I guess it’s these same voters who haven’t twigged that the Carbon Price is designed to save them and future generations of their family from the effects of climate change. It’s these same voters who refuse to equate Murdoch’s campaign to bring down the Gillard government with an agenda to destroy the NBN, a technology that puts his Foxtel profits at risk. It’s also these same voters who don’t understand that Gina Rinehart hates the Mining Tax not because she wants to make enough money to keep employing more workers, but because she doesn’t want to pay tax on her super profits. Because she wants to keep the money from the sale of Australia’s resources for herself. These voters are probably willing to support policies that they do understand, such as the Gonski school funding, but they’re still not willing to give Gillard the credit for designing and delivering such policies. Gillard is damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

The other truly frustrating part of this whole messed up situation is that Abbott supporters never have anything nice to say about Abbott. They only have bile to spew at Gillard. Ad astra is right, propaganda directed at the Gillard government is spreading hatred throughout the electorate. This hatred is making the electorate crazy. Here’s a challenge for any Abbott supporters who come across this post and decide to make a comment. Please tell us why you support Abbott, without mentioning Labor or Gillard. I dare you.

 

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An Open Letter to Bernie Brookes

Dear Bernie Brookes,

I’m sure you can guess why I’m writing you this letter. You’ve no doubt had many similar complaints this week surrounding your comments about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the effect this policy will have on Myer consumer spending. So here’s another one to add to the pile. Even if you don’t have time to read it, please do me the favour of handing it around your mates, fellow CEOs of big companies who think they’re entitled to an opinion about political policy. These words are for all of you.

First off, let me just say that I am a very grateful person. I am grateful that I live in a society where a brand like Myer exists. But I don’t wake up in the morning and curse that Myer isn’t open yet. I, like all other Australians, don’t need Myer. We don’t rely on Myer providing us with products. This is because nothing your store provides could ever, in anyone’s warped sense of reality constitute a ‘necessity’. Necessities, things needed to live, for lucky Australians like me, include shelter, food, water and healthcare. Everything else is lifestyle. That’s what your store sells isn’t it? Lifestyle choices. As an Australian, I get to enjoy a whole raft of lifestyle choices, Myer being one of them. I get to enjoy so much more than just bare necessities, and that’s why I’m so grateful.

I am also grateful that my life has not been touched by the difficulties of disability. Yet, if I was to find in my future that, for instance, I had a child with a disability, I don’t think my first concern would be that this child might cost me more money, and reduce the amount of cash that I could spend at Myer. Thousands of Australians have been looking after themselves or loved ones who have a disability, buying all the expensive healthcare and equipment needed to give them a life that’s nowhere near as privileged as most of your customers, without the government offering them the support that it has always been able to afford. Hence why Gillard’s Labor Government has introduced the National Disability Insurance scheme. But rather than applaud this social policy, you whinge to your investment banker crowd that the policy is going to hurt your shareholders. How pathetic a human being you are. When I think of your shareholders, somehow I don’t manage to conjure the sort of pity that I have for people who are prisoners in their home due to a disability, or for their carers who have been by their sides their entire lives. Giving up trips to Myer. Giving up everything for their loved one.

It’s clear that you have a predictable view of government spending on social welfare. You don’t like it. You don’t seem to think the government can afford to do anything. Although I didn’t hear you complaining when Rudd’s Labor government stimulated the economy during the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis by giving your consumers money to spend in your stores. Are you grateful at all for that Bernie? That this country didn’t plunge into recession like the US and most of Europe?

When you found your statements about the NDIS had made their way out of your investment banker echo-chamber and into the general populace (your consumers) and you realised your words might affect your shareholders’ income, you issued the most cowardly format for an apology – a press release. And in this release, you stuck by your criticism of the funding model for the NDIS – a minor increase in the Medicare Levy. You said you would prefer the NDIS was funded using ‘existing revenue streams’. Well thanks Bernie. Thanks for this insightful advice. Have you not heard that government revenue isn’t doing so well lately? You are constantly complaining that your retail sector isn’t performing well but do you ever put two and two together? While you and your CEO mates might find the economic conditions difficult, might it also be so that government taxation revenue is also dropping due to large companies like your own not contributing as much in tax revenue? Or is the government meant to be responsible for this as well? Last time I checked, Australia is doing incredibly well economically compared to other developed nations – would you prefer to run a group of department stores in Greece? And while you and your mates are constantly backing Tony Abbott’s catch-phrase that the government MUST be in surplus, how do you expect that government to afford the NDIS, which you now seem to agree we need, without an increase in taxation? What’s this magic pudding you seem to know about that the government doesn’t? Please enlighten us.

Speaking of your buddy Tony Abbott, what are your thoughts on his plans to fund his inequitable-middle-and-upper-class-welfare-election-bribe paid parental leave with a 1.5% increase in the company tax rate? Myer will be paying that I would think. I totally understand big business. I know the cost of this tax increase will be passed onto Myer consumers. Aren’t you concerned that if you charge us more for your lifestyle choices, we might not be able to afford as many lifestyle choices? Or we might give up on your lifestyle choices altogether? Heard of the internet? I’ve only got a rudimentary understanding of economics and supply and demand, but that’s how it works doesn’t it? Prices go up, demand goes down. I would personally agree with you if you were to come out and criticize Abbott’s paid maternity leave policy. I don’t want your prices to go up so Abbott can ensure women who earn way more than the average wage, get paid more than an average salary when they go on maternity leave. I don’t want to see every company in Australia put their prices up so women can pay for expensive lifestyle choices whilst being full-time mums. If the company tax rate was increased for an equitable policy like the NDIS, I would have no complaint.

I guess it all comes down to priorities, doesn’t it Bernie. My priority is the poorest and most disadvantaged in society. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to contribute from my taxable income, to ensure disabled Australians are better supported with their challenges in life. Your priority is your shareholders. How’s that working out for you this week Bernie? Are your shareholders impressed with your public relations disaster?

 

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