Endless Debt Disaster: It’s Time To Hit The NDIS

THE NATIONAL SHAME of a debt peak of $647bn within four years — confirmed by Treasurer Scott Morrison in this week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook — proves, despite the mixed messages of the Abbott/Hockey era and the inconsequential blather about “fairness” from Labor, that drastic action is needed to stop Australia’s debt crisis becoming a permanent mire. Sacred cows, hitherto regarded as untouchable, must be carved up.

This morning’s post will be a relatively straightforward one, on the run today as I am; in any case, I’m sure the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) delivered by Treasurer Scott Morrison is something we will be discussing, directly and indirectly, at great length over the silly season and early next year, so it’s hardly a subject that needs to be knocked over in one go.

I have been reading David Crowe’s piece in The Australian this morning, and we’re looking at it and linking to it this morning because in my view, so rare are voices of common sense and sanity in the mainstream press where the true state of Australia’s books are concerned that when someone tries to communicate some insight and reality on a mass basis, those efforts should be amplified and reinforced.

It is an indictment that much of the delusional denial and opportunistic deceit the ALP has spent the entire time since its thumping election defeat two years ago is enthusiastically picked up and cheered on by not just the usual suspects at the ABC and Fairfax, but even some at the Murdoch press — slated viciously by Labor and its fellow travellers as some kind of de facto Coalition communications unit — but as MYEFO showed rather starkly, the warnings about a “debt and deficit disaster” and similar formulations that were routinely propagated by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were no joke, and no exaggeration.

Make no mistake, it is an indictment not just that Labor was able to spend (borrowed) money hand over fist whilst in office and to legislate tens of billions of dollars of new recurrent expenditure before it was thrown out, but it’s an almost criminal dereliction of responsibility that the Coalition — and the press community — have all but allowed the ALP to escape responsibility for its handiwork.

To be sure, the fairy story fashioned by Bill Shorten and his henchmen — that the ballooning mountain of Commonwealth debt is the fault and product of two years of Liberal governance — has taken root and been allowed to gain traction, and it is to be hoped that Morrison’s tepid effort this week is followed by a more concerted, robust endeavour to sheet the blame home to the ALP, where it belongs, and to till the ground of public opinion to make the tough remedial action that is urgently required acceptable, if not perhaps particularly palatable.

On this count, we will wait and see.

But the point I want to make today is that one sacred cow in particular — the National Disability Insurance Scheme — has hitherto been excluded from any attempt to rein in government spending, and given the relatively piecemeal measures the government announced this week are likely to be jumped all over anyway by a cynical but ruthlessly opportunistic opposition, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison might as well look at the gold-plated scheme that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan sucked the Abbott-led Liberal Party into and take careful aim at sustainably scaling it back.

After all, Labor’s own figures suggest this behemoth will add $24bn to budget outgoings per year, every year, once it is fully operational after 2022: this sort of largesse might play well with those attuned to Labor’s smash-and-grab approach to the politics of big spending announcements, but it doesn’t augur well where responsibility, accountability and the efficient expenditure of public monies are concerned.

To date, no meaningful attempt has been made to revisit the NDIS, which in itself is a dereliction of responsibility: the only group anywhere in this country that believes the scheme is fully funded is the ALP.

Anyone who takes Labor Party pronouncements at face value where the expenditure of monies is concerned is, I am sorry to say, a mental case.

And in any case, the booby-trapped budget was an open secret before the ALP left office, so trusting it — and over a colossal sum of money every year, no less — requires the kind of leap of faith that motivates lemmings to jump off cliffs.

In other words, $24bn annually might even be a conservative figure.

There will no doubt be those who think I am heartless for putting the NDIS on the table in the context of budget cuts; as this column repeatedly noted at the time, it’s not the soundness of the concept I question, but the cost — and whether it can be justified.

Labor pilloried Tony Abbott’s own “rolled gold” scheme — universal maternity leave pay — and created so much grief for the Liberals that Abbott was forced first to water it down, and then abandon it altogether.

But the NDIS is off limits. Even just the fact it seems to be “untouchable” is a cause for unease given the vast sums of money in question.

I don”t advocate abolishing the NDIS, although I will reiterate the point that such a grandiose package wasn’t affordable when Gillard and Swan cooked it up, and is even less affordable now.

Yet with the annual budget deficit now effectively running at $40bn per year (and seemingly set to stay there for some years) surely some efficiencies might be squeezed from the NDIS?

Surely some of the gilt edges and gold plating could be prised away without compromising the core objectives of the scheme?

And having pilloried Abbott’s “gold-plated” maternity leave scheme (which in any case was fully funded by a levy on businesses, the merits of that put aside for now) to the point it was dumped, the only discernible argument for the NDIS to be quarantined from savings seems to be that Labor set it up rather than the Liberals.

Oh, and that the Liberals allowed themselves to get sucked into the trap, which — empty blather and bullshit about “compassion” aside — was a very big part of the game Gillard and Swan were playing.

We will, as I said, talk a great deal more about the budget in the coming days and weeks, but the point is that unaffordable adventures — irrespective of how worthy — are a luxury this country simply can’t afford as it haemorrhages red ink as far as the eye can see.

Surely some kind of paring back of the NDIS — either through direct cuts or a savage focus on efficiencies (not creating as many richly remunerated, Labor-aligned public servants to administer it, for example) could leave a scheme that still consumes $12-$15 billion per year, but also tips the better part of $10bn per annum  — or a quarter of the entire budget deficit — back onto the books in one fell swoop.

Fixing the problem of the deficit and the mountain of debt that is accruing will take time. There are no easy options. Nobody likes having their cut of government largesse reduced or eliminated. Yet unless some tough action is taken now, in not much more than another decade, Australia will be as good as bankrupt.

I just wonder, with his mangled rhetoric about “fairness” and the utter shamelessness with which he helped create this problem as a minister in the last Labor government, what Bill Shorten might say by way of atonement to the Australian public if that nightmare scenario should ever come to pass.

The answer, of course, is nothing, for Shorten and his cronies will be long gone.

Such is the opportunity cost for unprincipled wreckers who would mortgage this country’s future for their own political benefit, then skip off into the sunset leaving someone else to carry the can — and yet, reprehensibly, refuse to allow them to fix the problem they had themselves created in the first place.



16 thoughts on “Endless Debt Disaster: It’s Time To Hit The NDIS

  1. In response to your article about: “THE NATIONAL SHAME of a debt peak of $647bn within four years — confirmed by Treasurer Scott Morrison in this week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook”. It now ought to be detailed showing specifically how much of that $647 Billion has been wasted or paid-out to various: Law Firm partnerships, Lawyers, Queens Counsel, Senior Counsel and on Accountancy Firms etc, given the isolated reasons set-out by Me in: http://www.cabinetdeceitfultactics.com

    Kind regards
    Kenneth-Clyde Ivory.

  2. I don’t think you’re heartless in going after the NDIS. I think you’re imprudent and counterproductive.

    The current system for helping disabled people and their families is incredibly inefficient. One in five Australian households is affected directly by such a predicament. Government services are piecemeal and disconnected, so that disabled people and their families spend more time hunting down available services than anything else. Carers take time off from work, and disabled people are unable to secure work, while they shuttle between appointments.

    Government services exists to maximise private utility while sinking private costs. The ADF, the road system, all worthwhile public services can be judged usefully in this manner. Merely focusing on cost and seeking to reduce it, regardless of benefits foregone and other consequences, is mere skimping. It makes a mockery of prudent government and any sensible notions of economising.

    The NDIS is designed to be a proper public policy response to the intolerable situation facing disabled people and their carers. It is designed to get different services working together in order to drive down the costs that arise from disjointed expectations and Catch-22 situations. It is designed to take the pressure off families and maximise opportunities for disabled people to support themselves through paid employment.

    It is designed to do those things. It may succeed, to varying degrees. It should be given the chance to succeed, a chance that you would deny it.

    You make the mistake of treating NDIS expenditure as though it were in addition to existing expenditure, rather than in stead of or supplementing much of the spending on disability. Perpetuating that mistake means the only economies you can achieve will be false ones.

    At a time when government is seeking to maximise workforce participation, perpetuating an intolerable situation whereby people’s opportunities to work are minimised, and where they are forced onto inefficient public services and pensions for survival, is counterproductive for the people – and a false economy for the budget.

    When you set up a policy and then tinker with it, you blow out the costs and ensure that its original objectives can never be met. Virtually every policy initiative of the Rudd government failed for that reason. So too the NBN has failed under this government. Almost every policy initiative affecting Indigenous people has failed, and is in the process of failing, for that reason.

    The NDIS was agreed by disabled people and most people who work with them, people of sense and goodwill who know where the inefficiencies are. Abbott’s paid parental leave was not; it was not even Liberal policy, but a commitment of a leader whose edicts and whimsies no longer need be indulged by anyone (except, perhaps, the media).

    You seem to think that because the Liberals have sacrificed a pet policy (Abbott’s paid parental leave), Labor must too (NDIS). This gives political argy-bargy an importance it does not deserve, and elevates it above prudent government – which must prevail no matter who is in office. Indeed, office-bearers are judged on the extent to which prudent government is possible on their watch.

    Many Liberals seek to not only anticipate criticism as ‘heartless’, but frame any/all criticism that way. You can see that the foregoing lies entirely upon sound economics (that is, a consideration of both costs and benefits in the context of proper policy) rather than an appeal to sentiment. The lesson to be drawn from the Abbott government is that imprudent government means harsh measures are not rewarded with longterm improvements. Lessons from the NDIS are yet to be drawn, but all indications are that adjustment difficulties will be more than compensated for in a range of ways that Canberra bloviators can scarcely imagine.

    We should enable the NDIS to succeed. We should realise that micromanaging it will ensure that its costs blow out and its prospects for success will diminish. Setting the broad parameters and encouraging people of sense and goodwill to fulfil it will have a positive effect on the budget – on the cost side, working out inefficient services and reducing welfare payments; and on the income side, more people in productive employment contributing to the economy and paying tax. This is neither namby nor pamby; it is vitally important to the life of our nation, and the individuals and families who comprise it, that the NDIS succeeds. For this to happen, it is vitally important that skimpers and political point-scorers back off.

    • Andrew, thank you for the comment, but I feel that in your rush to defend the NDIS you have overlooked a point that I have been clear about in this column ever since the NDIS was conceived: namely, that I think it is a worthy initiative and that I do not — and will not — advocate its abolition.

      I am aware of the background to the policy, although your outline will be of use to casual readers who follow these things less closely than we do.

      Where I disagree with you is over your rationale that the NDIS should be immune to finding savings and efficiencies.

      $24 billion per year is a hell of a lot of money; setting aside the merits of the program for a moment, it is impossible not to discuss this without reference to what was openly known at the time — namely that Gillard and Swan were taking steps to sabotage the federal budget once it became inevitable Labor would lose in 2013. To some extent that is another discussion altogether and perhaps, at some time I really want to belt the anti-Labor can, I will focus in on it explicitly, but for now it is enough simply to observe that any Gillard-era spending initiatives (and especially those requiring large sums of money on a recurrent basis) MUST be viewed with some degree of scepticism where the ledger is concerned. Even ALP figures were gleefully backgrounding journalists in 2013 to the effect the game was all about trashing the books. In this case a worthy initiative has been enmeshed in that irresponsibility. It is not unreasonable at all to question whether the books — and the funding totals — were cooked and over-baked.

      I didn’t say that because the Liberals sacrificed a “pet policy” as you put it that Labor should be forced to weather the same; the point I was making goes to the heart of what passes for standards at the ALP, which is that anything the Liberals do is to be regarded as fair game, whilst their own measures should be permitted to stand, free from scrutiny or challenge, and their minutiae accepted unquestioningly at face value. To reiterate, I do not think the NDIS should be abolished. But I do think it should be rigorously examined, recosted, and an emphasis on value for money given equal weight to the imperatives of service delivery.

      (For the record, I didn’t agree with the Abbott parental leave policy — not the government’s business — and was glad it was scuppered).

      I disagree with your assertion that “when you set up a policy and tinker with it, you blow out the costs and ensure that its original objectives can never be met.” Policy is, by its nature, an imperfect beast; the endless quest to close loopholes by governments of all persuasions is a simple illustration of the fact. Events and circumstances — and priorities — change; so must policy to respond to this. But “tinkering” with policy isn’t the only way to blow out costs.

      Seeing you use the example of an infrastructure project — the NBN — to try to bolster your point, I will respond with examples based in infrastructure construction here in Victoria, but your argument is based on the false premise that “policy purity” (if I can put it like that) is all that is needed; if projects are allowed to merrily proceed from conception to delivery they will materialise on time, on budget, and fully functional on an efficient basis.

      Do forgive my cynicism, but the ALP has a truly shocking and woeful record in delivering infrastructure projects in a timely and cost-effective manner: its North-South Pipeline, delivered almost $1bn over budget. Its myki ticketing system, delivered years late and almost $2bn over budget. When Labor took office in 1999, the Kennett government had $1.8bn in a cash fund (the money was meant to build the Scoresby Freeway, but the promise to do so had been inadvisedly withheld from the election campaign on the basis Kennett didn’t want to be seen to be buying the election). As we soon learned, the Scoresby (now Eastlink) was delivered years late, with tolls out to 2050, and the cash set aside to pay for it was pissed up against a post somewhere. A desalination plant that cost $7bn (the original price tag was $1.5bn). Whether you agree or disagree with the Napthine government’s East-West Link (or specifically, the contract issued to build it) the confirmed cost billed to taxpayers by the Andrews government NOT to build the road has now blown out to $1.1bn when Andrews repeatedly insisted tearing up the contract wouldn’t cost the state a cent. The contract wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, he said; it turns out that it was. Can you really expect anyone to believe the NBN wasn’t just another Labor infrastructure SNAFU? And in light of all of this, what thinking person would believe the estimates of $24bn in annual costs as the policy was designed by Swan and Gillard? As I said in my article, it could even be that the estimated price tag proves conservative once the actual costs begin to be booked.

      I only “anticipated” criticism as “heartless” because most of the people who come here and feign outrage that I dare to question Labor, its people and/or its initiatives frame their fury in just those terms: it’s all stuff from the same song sheet. You may not babble their propaganda lines, but most non-conservative critics do. I should point a couple of other things out.

      First, if you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I evolved from a very staunch Abbott supporter to a very outspoken (and disgusted) critic of his government: and the only reason I supported him in the leadership challenge is that I did not (and do not) believe Malcolm Turnbull is a suitable candidate to lead a long-term government comprised of mainstream liberals and conservatives. Time will tell, but as much as I like Tony personally, he had to go for a whole raft of reasons, and he only has himself to blame: it was just the replacement candidate I couldn’t stomach.

      Secondly, I at least partly agree with you about the “harsh measures” you refer to. Broadly, the Hockey budget of 2014 offended every known law of political decency in that it actually targeted — targeted — the Coalition’s own constituency, hitting hardest at swinging voters in marginal Coalition-held seats. That said, it impacted on just about everyone, and the strategy (for want of any better word) of spreading the pain so everyone had “a share” in it, as Hockey said, merely meant that as wide a contingent of the electorate as possible was turned against the government.

      But finally, in coming back to your argument, you do not provide an atom of evidence to prove that the $24bn annual running cost of the NDIS should simply be accepted and swallowed at face value beyond the assertion that “tinkering causes blowouts.” I’d have thought that an untested policy fashioned in the spirit of causing as much damage as possible to the federal budget and involving colossal sums of cash would be an obvious place to look for waste and bloat that could be stripped out without compromising outcomes. Even if you chop $10bn a year out of it — an arbitrary figure, only to make the point — there would still be $15bn per annum left to run the thing: still an awful lot of money. I accept that not all of it is new funding. But when the only publicly presented funding “solution” was hiking the Medicare levy to 2% to raise $8bn over three years to partially fund an NDIS trial, the question marks over the $24bn figure just get larger and more numerous.

      Very simply in sum, I don’t want to see the NDIS abolished. But I do think, on balance of probabilities, that there is a huge component of the headline figure from 2022 onwards that may be able to be heavily scaled back without affecting the desired outcomes the policy is meant to deliver. Don’t you agree it is at least prudent to go and hit the thing with a blowtorch, and find out? Or are you happier accepting the word of Gillard and Swan, who promised on more than 600 separate occasions to deliver a budget surplus, and never did?

      In closing, just a quick word — this is the first time you have commented here, so welcome; I do read your own material from time to time (when I have time, which isn’t as often as I would like at present) and I think you publish a good read. Where your own allegiances lie is a matter for you; I am quite openly a conservative opinion source, although I’m a conservative first and a party man second. Often, I disagree with what the Liberals do, and I’m not sycophantic enough to keep quiet about it: hence the critiques of Abbott and his junta, especially this year. I hope you’ll drop back here from time to time, and comment as desired; I may sit on the mainstream Right, but I would like to think you get a reasoned opinion here — even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.

      Oh, and finally — one of the measures I DO think needs to be abolished outright is the First Home Buyers’ Grant: a Howard era sacred cow that is next to useless in enabling first time buyers into the market, but which nonetheless helped drive housing prices to ridiculous levels last decade, and which still costs an inordinate amount of money despite its uselessness as an aid to purchasers. If I was really only about protecting the sacred cows of the Liberal Party and slating those of the ALP, my lips would be sealed on the subject 🙂

  3. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said, “The full implementation of the NDIS would result in 6200 new jobs in the sector.”
    Treasurer Scott Morrison said, “Extreme responses would place a handbrake on household consumption and business investment growth. We cannot cut our way to prosperity. People need to stop asking when the budget will be in surplus.”
    Prime Minister Turnbull said, “We must be innovative and agile. Its a very exciting time to be alive.”

    • Recurrent expenditure is not “investment,” it is simply additional recurrent expenditure.

      If there is nothing in the tin to pay for it, it is rank irresponsibility.

      I’m not questioning the merit of the NDIS, nor advocating it be abolished. But the fiscal vandalism that was being systemically and deliberately committed means that only a fool would believe the figures are no more than is required to pay for it.

    • Investment is expenditure that is expected to bring a return greater than the original cost of the investment. Gonski and NDIS are just vote buying exercises that will only generate consumption without productivity, and probably add to inflation, as well as public debt.

  4. Nor insurance. Nor modern monetary theory, for that matter. What a simplistic take on the issue. Admittedly, Gillgard rammed it through parliament because she knew her days were numbered, but since when does a sovereign nation need to worry about a debt which is such a low ratio of GDP? If we don’t invest in things like the NDIS and the NBN (the real one, not Turnbull’s fraud band) we’ll never be in a position to make the money (oops, sorry, SAVE it up) to pay of that hideous ‘debt and deficit.’

    • It’s a favourite article of faith of the Left — the Gillard/Swan sycophants especially — that Australia has a low debt ratio to GDP. Gross debt has already passed 25% to GDP and is set to reach 30% to GDP within a few short years unless RECURRENT INFRASTRUCTURE is cut, or taxes ramped up to pay for it.When Labor took office, the figures were -5% and -15% respectively. The blowout to date is the direct result of six years of Labor government and a lot of shortsighted incompetence, including on the watch of Joe Hockey, with regard to the likely extent of the collapse in commodity prices and the Australian dollar. If this can happen in less than 10 years, how long will it take to reach the magic 60% debt threshold to qualify as a Eurotrash-style train wreck? Not long. But the Left, and the Gillard/Swan sycophants, reckon someone else can answer for that long after the damage they inflicted on the country has matured. Meanwhile, the place will be broke.

      Once state taxes and the Medicare levy are included, this country is already in the top 10% of most heavily taxed OECD countries. Australia is not a low-tax state. Do you propose even more tax to nudge the ALP’s spend-a-thon onto a sustainable footing? A realistic, line-by-line review of recurrent expenditure, and substantial efficiencies without impeding service delivery, is a better approach, but the Left has that covered too, having framed debate about things like health in terms of the raw number of dollars they throw at it (or promise to) to the total disregard of efficiency and value for money.

      We’re not talking about the NBN here, and your attempt to do so is a fallacious attempt to embark on a parallel argument to deflect attention from the issue at hand. The only reason anyone knows the cost of the NDIS is because it eventually leaked out of Treasury and even then, key ALP figures flatly refused to confirm the scope of the projected expenditure until they were forced to do so after the commission of audit undertaken when the Abbott government was elected. That the report from that audit went absolutely nowhere is an indictment on Hockey and on Tony Abbott, but it at least let the cat out of the bag. Why do you think Labor went to such extreme lengths to deny the numbers? Because they were a booby trap masquerading as a principle nobody could argue against.

      Keep the NDIS by all means, but it must be subjected to rigorous examination of its financials and stripped of any padding whatsoever. I’d bet there’s five to ten billion annually that could be cut from it without jeopardising service delivery at all, but if such an investigation revealed it was in fact a prudent expenditure of monies, who would argue? But the point is that nothing should be immune from the search for savings. $40bn deficits, in suitable quantity, will bankrupt the joint. If there’s one new spending initiative that everyone seems to have declared off-limits despite its gargantuan price tag, I’d say that was a very big red flag.

    • Right, here’s my list.

      1. Sabbatical in Europe, First Class all the way, $150,000 for six months.
      2. New Beamer 5 series — $130,000.
      3. My dream house in Brighton — the one I drive past every day a block back from Beach Road — $7.5 million.
      4. Holiday house in Devon or Cornwall (ideally Dartmouth) — £350,000.
      5. Seaside retreat at Margaret River — $2.5 million.

      I don’t have the money of course — just like the NDIS and all other manner of ALP expenditure vandalism — but as I’m not allowed to say “I can’t afford it,” I assume you’ll send me a cheque for $11 million Australian dollars, or point me toward the patsy who’ll simply cough up for my unjustifiable largesse?

  5. When I voted them in, it was reduce the deficit. They were going to do it by reigning waste. Well NDIS is not wasted money. They are very disappointing.

  6. Most of the commentary about NDIS has come from people who know very little about disability or the transformation agenda in disability support that is known internationally as the ‘personalisation’ agenda. This agenda is largely unknown to Australian politicians, policy makers and think tanks, who by and large remain locked in a provider-centred approach to social policy and service delivery, rather than a person-centred or consumer-centred approach. Both Liberal and Labor governments are immersed in provider-centred thinking and practice.

    NDIS is an ill-conceived reform. It was designed by four bureaucrats and consultants, and then imposed without consultation by the disability sector of service providers, consultants and academics. A handful of people with disabilities and a large number of families of people with disabilities warned that the scheme was ill-conceived, costly, and highly bureaucratic, but these warnings were ignored by the disability industry and the political class. Despite having managed a dysfunctional disability system for decades, service providers and the political class adopted a ‘reform’ in which the same people responsible for the dysfunction were assigned $22bn a year to ‘fix’ it. This was, in short, a money-grab on an organised scale we have rarely witnessed in Australian history.

    NDIS is misguided because it ignores the low-key, inexpensive innovations in disability support already underway across Australia towards personalisation of disability supports. Instead of supporting and extending these innovations, it began with the creation of a brand new statutory authority and worked downwards. This is the standard model of top-down social reform in Australia. Rather than strengthening and supporting actual innovations on the ground, it began with a bureaucracy, a billion dollar budget, and a sector of pulsating vested interests. Having commenced in July 2013, NDIS to date has spent 82% of its budget on operating costs and 18% on people with disabilities.

    This is an excessively centralised, bureaucratic and costly approach to reforming disability. It was conceived by bureaucrats and consultants, and is being implemented by bureaucrats and consultants, at vast and unnecessary cost to the taxpayers.

    The political class and the political media have swallowed NDIS because they know very little about the field and fear that any critical scrutiny of it will be perceived as ‘lack of empathy for the disabled’. Political correctness is a curious and very costly phenomenon. NDIS should be the subject of critical scrutiny every bit as much as the NBN, but it is not. We have a failed and discredited political class in Australia and a weak culture of critical public debate.

    Disclosure: Vern Hughes is the parent of two sons in their 20s with disabilities who are recipients of the Disability Support Pension.

    • “Both Liberal and Labor governments are immersed in provider-centred thinking and practice”
      Correct, but, even more to the point, they both worship the religion of the green glob, as described by one of their own in 1990:

      “For a long time to come, our top national priority in countries like Australia should be to reduce the GNP as fast as possible, because we are grossly over-developed and over-producing and over-consuming and there’s no possibility of all people ever rising to the per capita levels we now have, let alone those we’re determined to grow to.

      Often it is obvious that developments that would do wonders for the GNP should be prohibited, such as devoting local land and water to export crops.

      There would be far less trade and transporting of goods than there is now. There would have to be many co-operative arrangements; the sharing of tools, many community workshops, orchards, forests, ponds, gardens, and regular community meetings and working bees.

      Applying the concept of appropriate development in the over-developed countries would make it possible for most people to live well on only one day’s work for cash per week, because many of the relatively few things they need would come from their own gardens, from barter, from gifts of surpluses and from the many free sources within the neighbourhood.

      ………Ted Traynor, lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of New South Wales, gave a talk on Robyn Williams’s ABC radio program Ockham’s Razor in May 1990

      As Vern Hughes illustrates, the NDIS is an abject failure IF YOU CONSIDER THAT ITS OBJECTIVE IS TO BETTER THE LIVES OF THE DISABLED.

      When you realise that it is just part and parcel of a scheme to reduce human habitation by 86%, and return humanity to the Dark Ages, it is a screaming success.

  7. The NDIS is creating a distorted market where “providers” – vested interest groups providing disability services – are being given free reign to rort and gouge the government and the funds supporting disabled people. There are no serious independent checks and balances on the plethora of private providers, now taking on average a twelve percent cut out of every individual disability payment for their services. The umpires – the so called “NDIS planners” – are these same private companies milking the government and disabled clients for all they are worth.

    These NDIS private providers – who will soon completely replace generally accountable government departments such as ADHC – are mostly staffed by innumerate rent seekers who say “no” to any and all reasonable requests put forward by clients about how they would like to allocate their own money. They control the client funds, and there is nowhere for the clients to go, other than a similar situation with another private company.

    If there was true competition to these providers, such as real self management of approved funds by the disabled, it would operate more like a free market system and a natural balance might be found. However, this sector is dying before it can hatch out of the egg. Self managing disabled people must now pay in advance for all services before seeking reimbursement through the NDIS portal. This means that a disabled person who has costs of eight to ten thousand a month -not untypical for in home based care supports- must now find that money themselves out of their Centrelink Disability Payments or even credit cards to pay providers before they can seek reimbursement from NDIS though the creaky portal. All assistance measures – such as a “float” to help disabled people manage the initial up front costs – have gradually been abandoned by the NDIS. Most disabled people are now giving in and signing up with the private providers. So choice is dying, and the disabled people are one again on the bottom rung of a big pile of vested interests. The NDIS puts Pink Batts in the shade in terms of the damage it will inflict on tens of thousands of people who need help to eat, dress and shower every day with dignity.

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