Charity begins at home

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “Crikey says: a rich country, a poor result” (yesterday). “What’s missing is global leadership.” Right on, Crikey — and it is only going to worsen as Europe’s unemployment continues to soar and its financial mismanagement expands with SARS like contagion. The Yanks keep printing money, China is going off the boil and poorer countries are now fighting over dwindling resources. I would love to think (and hope) that our current government has realised that there is a rapidly approaching recession and that keeping our money here might help us more in helping others fleeing failing countries. Charity begins in the home. There are plenty of people in Australia who need help, and the number is growing.

Abbott strolling to the Lodge

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “The extraordinary feat of a byelection-free Parliament” (yesterday). Malcolm Mackerras’ comment on the unexpected survival of the Gillard minority government, made against the background of solid policy achievements, only serves to deeper underline its grave failure. While Gillard and her team are capable political operators, they are woeful communicators. Ironically, the PM was installed as a replacement for Kevin 07, the Sunrise Kid, partly on the basis of her debating skills. While this might go down well among the few who watch Parliament or the ABC’s Q&A, her personality goes down like a lead balloon with the wider electorate. Her defenders argue that she is unfairly targetted because she was a woman, but they knew that when she was put in. They also knew that all PMs are subject to ferocious assault, and that the Right is more ready to stoop to personal attack, even of its own. The alternative was to reduce Kevin Rudd to a frontman, with cabinet backed by caucus reasserting its authority. But that was a road not taken, and nothing stands between Abbott and the Lodge now except his own feet. We even know the date he will arrive: September 14. It’s not a triathlon: it’s just a walk in the park, Howard-style.

NDIS must be thoroughly thought through

Ian Franklin writes: Re. “Only fools would rush into disability insurance scheme” (yesterday). I do have a vested interest in a workable NDIS, as my son has a disability, however I fully agree that our politicians seem to racing ahead without any idea of what an actual policy will be. Reading reports in last weekends press, the favourite response to any question about eligibility always seemed to come back to the “reasonable and necessary” test. I think it incredible we will increase the Medicare levy on “motherhood statements” without an idea of how or where it will be spent. I mean, how can anybody question providing for the disabled. It must be unAustralian, right?

The big issue no-one seems to have asked yet is who will administer this? With what appears to be an arbitrary process of “reasonable and necessary” who will and how will they assess claims? The 411,000 participants seem a huge workload, which would suggest it would need its own department or at least massive increases in other existing departments (or perhaps third-party providers — like unemployment / job finding outsourcing) With talk of proposed costs of $13 billion-plus when fully implemented, how much of this will be gobbled up by administration and how much will this reduce any funds available to the actual participants?

Yes, we will have an NDIS but also a bureaucracy that will prove to be nothing but a quagmire with ever diminishing returns to those for whom the scheme was envisioned. If we have bi-partisan support, let’s work through the details first and not just rely on the usual approach of “trust us, we are politicians”.

Peter Fray

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