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Jul 27, 2012

Government waste and intransigence sinks NDIS

Currently we are seeing numerous reports in the media of people with profound disabilities who were counting on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), coming into effect in order to gain some assistance for themselves and those caring for them. It cannot be argued that people caring for family members with substantial disabilities need some help, especially as they age.

Unfortunately, these reports then tend to lambast the premiers of ‘the four big states’ governed by the coalition, mainly New South Wales, and Victoria. Queensland and Western Australia seem to be getting a pass in Gillard’s rhetoric.

These states are all undergoing the process of recovery from years of Labor governments and the accompanying indebtedness associated with that. Labor states do not have this problem as they still live in cloud cuckoo land where the answer to spending beyond your means is just going out and borrowing more.

Life in Queensland over the past ten years has resembled being trapped in an episode of the Simpsons in which Bart gets hold of Homer’s credit card and goes wild looking for the next thing to splash out on. It’s been like carnival time on the taxpayer’s dime to the extent where the proceeds of the current mining boom have been pissed away on profligacy well into the next generation.

What Labor is proposing is nothing like the recommendation of the Productivity Commission, which was for the Commonwealth to fund the scheme to the extent of $6.5 billion per year, although some estimates of the full cost are in the $15 billion range. What Gillard is proposing, is for a ‘limited trial’ to run for three years with the offer of nearly one billion dollars with the rest being picked up by the states, who have the worry of being left holding the bag afterwards.

The states, far from being the miserable pack of uncaring Scrooges they are depicted as are already funding disability services to the tune of more than $7 billion per year. The opposition has offered bipartisan support for the original proposal, but has been labeled a ‘spoiler’ for rejecting the current effort.

It is doubtful that Gillard actually wants the scheme to go ahead and is probably grandstanding. She has rejected the Productivity Commission’s original recommendation for something else, rejected Abbott’s offer of support, and slapped away the states proposal for funding. Instead, like her Malaysia proposal on people smuggling, she is opting for something nobody else will support.

Given the indebtedness of both the Commonwealth and the states, it is doubtful that we can afford this in any case.

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