Doctor and activist


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Category: Economics

Huge Corporate Rort with Petroleum Resource Rent Tax

24 April 2022

Foreign companies are paying no tax due to deficiencies in the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT). You may recall that the Rudd government tried to bring in a realistic tax based on the one that they have in Norway with a sovereign wealth fund set up to tide the country over a rainy day (like a COVID epidemic perhaps).  The extent of the tax avoided is currently 13% of GDP!

Rudd was targeted by a combination of the miners and Murdoch, who he was trying to stop getting a virtual monopoly of the Australian media.

When Rudd fell, Gillard came in and introduced an alternative tax, which allowed her to save face, but one commentator some time later noted that the increase in miners’ profits that year was almost exactly what Rudd’s tax would have raised, and the new tax raised almost nothing.  It was also said that the Tax Office had not modelled the new tax, and it came from the miners.  This fits the theory that it was a face-saver so that Australians would still think that the government was actually in control.

Here we are a few years later, with a whole election debate is about tax, tax cuts, handouts and the cost of living, yet neither of the major parties have the guts to call out the real tax avoiders, who actually changed the legislation in their favour.  The Greens do and for that they are called radical lefties!

The government takes credit for the COVID bounce-back recovery, which has nothing to do with their policies, and for the low unemployment rate which relates to the lack of backpackers and students, who usually do the dirtiest and least safe jobs for sub-award wages, not to mention the definition of ‘employment‘ as having at least one hour of work a week.  The claimed 4% unemployment rate is actually a bad joke.

Here is an article in Crikey from Bernard Keane:

www.crikey.com.au/2022/04/20/prrt-could-be-biggest-theft-in-history/

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Loneliness and its solutions

25 February 2022


I sometimes watch Foreign Correspondent on ABC TV and by chance on 15/2/21 I came across this excellent programme on loneliness in Japan.


The ABC correspondent there looks at loneliness in the Japanese population from older folk dying alone, to younger people simply withdrawing from society.


Some of the older ones had no family or jobs. Some of the younger ones were so pressured to succeed and felt that they had failed, so simply withdrew from society. It seems that the pressure on kids all to be CEOs is an absurd and unachievable objective.


I am not sure that the situation in Australia is as bad, but I thought about some of my patients and could think of half a dozen immediately. With some of them , I am one of the only two or three people in the world they have any contact with, their relationships are tenuous.


None of them started with mental health problems. Here are some examples:


A 60 year old man worked for a security company looking after an insurance company. He was doing surveillance for them, but it took over his life as he was contacted 24 hours a day for various crises. Case management employees having conscience over what they were doing had to be rescued from self-harm in the toilets. Enraged claimants with refused claims threatened to blow up the company offices with cans of petrol. He saw staff high-fiveing as some claimant got a derisory settlement when they deserved and needed a lot more. It went on like this for years. When he said that he could not do this anymore he was treated as badly as any of the people he had dealt with. He told me this story, and I had hoped that with his considerable management skills and experience, he could be put into a less stressful position. But he deteriorated. Everything reminds him of the corruption of the world. He is estranged from his wife and they communicate with post-it notes on the frig. He goes for a walk at 11 at night so he will not have to speak to people in the street. One son has stuck by him and visits daily, and will build him a self-contained unit in his new home.


Another patient is a 62 year old ethnic taxi driver who was so badly bashed 11 years ago by a gang stealing his takings that he lost an eye, has never worked again and never recovered mentally or physically. He was divorced; lives alone and sometimes will not even answer the phone.


One is a 42 year old foreign student who came to study theology, wanting to become a pastor. Her English is not great. She is a trifle unworldly, and thought that the world is basically kind and people look after each other. She had a casual job in a motel and her boss asked her to move a bed down the stairs between floors. She said it was too heavy and she could not, but he threatened to sack her. She did it and got an injury to two discs in her back. She was frightened to have surgery, so was in agony for a couple of years and eventually agreed. She had minimal surgery, which was not successful. The insurer decided that she was not complying with what they wanted so refused to pay her. She was effectively broke and homeless, so an old lady from her church offered her a bed and food. But she lives a long way away and up a drive that is hard for my patient to walk up. She was effectively trapped. As a foreign person she did not even have Medicare for the minimal psychological help it offers (6 visits a year). Her mental health deteriorated and she shunned all outside contact, and would not even answer the phone. She has gone home to her family- I can only hope she improves there.


One is a 39 year old from a religious and teetotal family with a high sense of ethics. He was a top salesman of a computer company and became aware that they were ripping off some customers. He drew this to management’s attention, but they declined to do anything and he was labelled a whistleblower. Management supported him by putting out an email asking that he be supported for his mental health issues. He felt that this ostracisation was the end of his career, because he had asked them to behave ethically. He was certain that no one in his tight top group will now employ him, so he withdrew and started to drink to lessen the pain. His family then rejected him because of the drinking and his sales friends are estranged also. The psychologist gives him Cognitive Behavioural Therapy exercises and I try to get him to drink less and somewhat ironically counsel him that you cannot withdraw from the world merely because the baddies generally win. He lives alone, answers the phone and is just able to do his own shopping, but is not improving much.


These are just some examples that I know. Coasting home as GP at least keeps you in contact with life. The point is that many people have broken lives, but just keep living. None of these examples have done anything wrong themselves. Is a sense of ethics a mental illness?


As everyone has to ‘look after themselves’ in a consumer-oriented society, more people will fall through the cracks, especially as the gap between rich and poor is enlarged by pork barrelling which puts resources into areas that need them less, tax breaks for the rich, subsidies for private schools and private health insurance, derisory welfare payments, and insurers allowed simply to refuse to pay without penalty.


People need basic support with universal housing and universal health case. They need jobs or at least occupations and an adequate income to survive. And we need outreach and support services that can be called upon.
When people say, ‘There are not enough jobs’, they are taking nonsense. Anyone can think of many worthwhile things that need doing. And there are plenty of people who would be happy to do them. The problem is that in a world where nothing can be done that does not make a profit, a lot of things that need doing are not done. That is where the policy change are needed. We cannot simply look at the money and see to what level existing activities can be maintained. We need to look at what needs to be done, and then work out how to achieve it. We need to decide that everyone has a right to live and those who have a good life will live in a better society if everyone can share at least a basic quality of life. There has to be recognition that the ability to be profitable need not be the overwhelming criterion for what is done. Tax may go up, but if there is real re-think of priorities, it is not likely to be all that much.


The link to the ABC program that initiated this tirade is below.
https://iview.abc.net.au/show/foreign-correspondent/series/2022/video/NC2210H002S00

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NDIS- An Unsuccessful Privatisation of the Welfare System

13 January 2022

I was never in favour of the National Disability Insurance System as I saw it as a defacto privatisation and reliance on a ‘market’ which would have another layer of assessors, who may or may not get it right in a single interview, the award of ‘packages’ of money which may or may not be enough and/or may or may not be wisely spend.  The greatest problem was that as a ’market’ it would be always liable to have glossy marketing to vulnerable families, with services delivered as cheaply as possible, by unqualified people and profits skimmed off.  The government coffers were topped up by increasing the Medicare levy, which just ensured that the private sector was given huge amounts of public money.

When I was in the NSW Parliament’s Social Issues Committee  which looked at the issue, a key problem was that there was no actual numbers of what the needs were for disability services. There were two ways of calculating it. The first was to add up all the people on benefits on the assumption that everyone who needed benefits was getting them. The other way was to ask the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the government-funded research body what percentage of the population had a disability and multiply that percentage by the population.  Their answer was many multiples of those on welfare, presumably either because their relatives or support networks were looking after their problems, or there was unmet need. 

It seemed obvious that:

  1. There would be a huge increase in demand when more resources were (at least in theory) available
  2. There would be a lot of bureaucracy that would waste a lot of money
  3. Those actually doing the job and who knew the needs at a practical level would  have less control so the decision making would worsen
  4. There would be a lot of profiteering
  5. Disability workers would face a race to the bottom in pay and conditions.

It might be noted that NDIS cuts out when you are 65, so the whole process restarts with recipients having to apply for a Disability Support Pension (DSP). The current government has boasted that it is putting only a third as many people  on the DSP as formerly.  My experience was that when the NSW government stopped all Workers Comp payments after 5 years, many people who had been on this support for 5 year at least had to apply for the DSP. Figures were rubbery as the NSW government did not want to know how many people were simply tipped off income support, but the best estimate was that about 20% got the DSP and the rest had to go on Jobseeker. I wrote a lot of detailed medical reports for people who were still unable to get the DSP, and then the government wrote to me and said that I could only charge a very modest Medicare amount to write such reports, so presumably doctors will not be able to take much time on them.  I cannot write them in the time that the allowance pays.  I had one patient who was 61, ethnic, unskilled and illiterate in English who had been on compensation for a back injury 13 years and was carer for an invalid wife and was refused the DSP despite my best efforts and put  into the ‘mutual obligation’ multiple job application system.

But to get back to the NDIS itself, I recently chanced across this article recently from an old issue of Green Left Weekly- a personal story.  It seems very credible.

My view is the NDIS needs to be abolished, but it will be very hard to rebuild a public welfare support system against a well-funded and established private lobby that is making a fortune and has at least one major party ready to undo any efforts in this direction.

NDIS is also making life harder for disability workers

Janine Brown, Melbourne, February 8, 2019, Green Left Weekly Issue 1208

I am employed as a disability support worker by a council and, since the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), I will soon lose my job. This is my story.

I am in transition to becoming “self-employed” with an ABN (Australian Business Number), which makes me a small business, and enables me to sign individual contracts with each client.

The other alternative was to become an employee of a private company that has contracts with NDIS clients.

From these two bad choices, I decided to go with the former.

We have been told that NDIS will be much better for hundreds of thousands of Australians. But is it?

Once families receive NDIS funding, it is their responsibility to make the choices for their child or adult family member and manage their finances over a 12-month period.

The idea that they are in control of the life choices of their family member may sound appealing. But the stress levels rise with the amount of bookkeeping required and when it is difficult to clearly define their needs.

Parents are encouraged to employ an advisor, but that person is paid for by the funding for their family member. That NDIS planner will recommend “one of theirs”, someone who will ask many questions and tick many boxes but who doesn’t really know the needs and interests of the person concerned.

I was once supporting a child at home when the NDIS planner was interviewing his parents. One of the questions was “Do you own your home?” I invited the planner to meet the child but she declined, saying it wasn’t necessary.

As much as I agree with giving parents options in choosing a carer for their child, the options being presented are often inadequate to the task at hand.

By privatising the disability sector, many people are obtaining an ABN (which is easy to do online) and presenting themselves as a qualified support worker. They do not need background checks and parents who search online for support workers only see promotional material.

I am qualified and have many years of experience, but l am now in competition with an untrained person who is willing to provide “services” at a cheaper rate. They call it business. I call it a dangerous rort.

NDIS has also meant that our work is now casual: we no longer have permanent employment with leave benefits, superannuation and union support.

A few weeks ago a parent asked me to do a buddy shift with a potential new carer as she lives near the client. Having a carer nearby is appealing for parents who may need to call on you at the last minute.

l agreed to do the shadow shift. I found that the inexperienced carer had no idea about the work responsibilities or the safety measures. She had no knowledge about supporting someone who is non-verbal with behavioural difficulties, who needs support in all aspects of daily life. She appeared to be more interested in the times of shifts, rather than the child’s needs.

It is easy to be blinded by the NDIS marketing, but just as the privatisation of the aged care sector has led to cuts in staff, quality meals and wound management, the same is true for the disAbility sector.

There are also many grey areas concerning the care of people with a disability.

Statistics show that as the number of people being diagnosed with autism (done by general practioners) has increased in the past few years. This adds to the NDIS budget.

As a result, NDIS bureaucrats are thinking of using “their people” to make the diagnosis. If this happens, we can expect a decline in the numbers of people being diagnosed with autism and many who need support will not be eligible for funding for appropriate services.

Another grey area concerns supporting people transitioning from childhood to adulthood, and teaching them to become more independent.

It is sometimes possible to teach a person to take public transport to an activity. However, it becomes a crisis situation when the bus/tram/train is late or cancelled and the person has lost all points of reference and they have to navigate replacement measures.

The NDIS planner may have ticked a box for someone to take public transport to an activity when things are going well, but an unexpected or crisis situation which causes the person anxiety is not factored into the plan.

It is imperative that we continue to support vulnerable people in our community. We must not be blinded by the NDIS hype when the reality is vastly different.

www.greenleft.org.au/content/ndis-also-making-life-harder-disability-workers

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Australia at Glasgow COP26

4 November 2021

Just when you think it could not get any worse- it does.  There has been relatively little about Australia’s appearance and presentation at the Glasgow climate summit and the reaction to it; the media being preoccupied with the fact that President Macron of France called Scott Morrison a liar, and chasing abducted Cleo Smith in WA. 

Australia has had a SANTOS  stall at its exhibition at the Glasgow Climate Summit.  Santos is spruiking its carbon capture and storage, subsidised by guess who?  You and me as taxpayers, facilitated by Energy Minister Angus Taylor who is charged up with a $2.3 million donation from Santos to the Liberal Party.

Carbon capture is a complete nonsense. Coal is more or less solid carbon. To do some basic chemistry, a mole of carbon weighs 12gm and occupies 5.3 cubic centimetres. When it combines with oxygen it weighs 44gm and becomes CO2, a gas which takes up 22.4 litres which is 22,400 cubic centimetres or 422.6 times the volume of the original carbon at atmospheric pressure.  To capture the CO2, and then compress and store it will almost certainly take more energy than was released in burning it.  To halve the volume of a gas, you have to double the pressure, which takes 101 Joules of energy per litre per atmosphere.  The carbon dioxide is also able to penetrate barriers, such as going through solid concrete, and the sites suggested for the carbon storage are at 31 degrees, when carbon dioxide does not become a solid until minus 78 degrees.  So the whole process cannot be economic or sensible, and no ‘technology’ will make it so.

Everything in the above paragraph is high school chemistry, so no great knowledge is required here.  Only those venal or wilfully ignorant can dispute this. How the myth of Carbon Capture and Storage can still be peddled is beyond belief, excepting the explanation attributed to Napoleon, ‘In politics, absurdity is no impediment’.

The fact that Australia could have a Santos stall in its display in Glasgow shows the extent to which the Morrison government is willing to make us an international laughing stock for the sake of their $23 million, not to mention the subsidies, the greenhouse effects and the delays caused by this policy.

The other quote that seems apposite is Greta Thunberg’s, ‘Blah, blah, blah’.

www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/03/australia-puts-fossil-fuel-company-front-and-centre-at-cop26?fbclid=IwAR3x1hmLa5dbh7nJ8i_IFx8PyZEAyzSIuIeJVMQOlZfLQfY0-nt9wXE1Wgs

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An OECD Analysis of the Federal Government’s Policies

16 September 2021

This is a good and reasonably comprehensive article in The Guardian where the OECD looks at Australia with some interesting graphs and international comparisons. 

The OECD also wants to review the role of the Reserve Bank.  One might comment that the Reserve Bank might have more power in other countries and the OECD might either think it has more power here, or is pushing for it to have such. The RBA here had traditionally kept out of politics, finally made some very sensible comments and been roundly ignored.

www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2021/sep/15/australias-climate-failures-are-costing-its-economy-and-scott-morrisons-government-is-being-blamed?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other&fbclid=IwAR0HPjSa-z0Esu7GklbLRl3IrvAzJnjsBdMNX7VhWFbCcOsNbNBTYGpZO2U

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What Has Gone Wrong in Australia?

8 September 2021

John Quiggin gives a good, insightful summary in The Monthly.

www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2021/september/1630418400/john-quiggin/dismembering-government?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The Monthly Today – Wednesday 8 September 2021&utm_content=The Monthly Today – Wednesday 8 September 2021+CID_77319af0620e0ea97965a0e5af6e7e60&utm_source=EDM&utm_term=The Monthly#mtr

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NDIS Individual Assessments; A Symptom of a Wider Problem

10 July 2021

The current issue in the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is the government’s efforts to introduce ‘independent assessments’ of people on the scheme and those who want to get on the scheme.  The idea has been abandoned for the present, but that is not the end of the story. It is the beginning.

Some context is needed here.  I was on a State Parliamentary inquiry into disability funding during which we heard evidence of inefficiencies within the disability sector where often there were shortages of appropriate services, and in some areas there were none at all.  The real crunch time was when parents with children with disabilities realised that they were going to die eventually and wanted to make a plan for the rest of their child’s life.  People would apply at various facilities, and be turned away as there were no places.  They then assumed that they were on a waiting list, but usually no lists were kept. When a vacancy occurred, whoever applied at that time got it.  It was mainly luck.  Naturally the people trying to help their loved one wanted a guaranteed package that would continue after their death.  More articulate parents and carers, who had struggled for years just wanted the money to buy the services that they felt that they needed. Many carers simply wanted more services, and hoped that a national system that guaranteed services for disability.  

Given the political context of privatisation and reducing government involvement in everything, the scene was set to have disability services delivered by the private sector as a massive market for services.   The private sector naturally wanted to get access to services that had been provided by government as a source of business and profit.

Government also had a real estate agenda.  Some large institutions were on valuable land. The large facilities at Peat Island in the Hawkesbury and Stockton Disability Centre was on beachfront land just north of Newcastle.  There was a residence for the grossly disabled opposite Wollongong Hospital that had taken years of fundraising for the parents to achieve.   These could be sold off as the mental health facilities had been a few decades earlier, with the catchy slogan of putting the residents ‘back in the community’. The idea that the residents were better off isolated in a suburban homes with few facilities rather than in a community of people with the same problem and a well-structured programme of activities seemed a dubious proposition to me.  Resident groups such as the relatives of long-term psychiatric facilities at Bloomfield in Orange were very scared of the suggested changes.  There had been problems with the old system and some inappropriate facilities, but an overall lack of facilities was the major problem.  It was not even throwing the baby out with the bathwater; it seemed more like smoke and mirrors. 

The key question in dealing with any problem is how big a task is it?  When the Committee asked how many people with disabilities there were, there was no answer.  No register was kept.  The two ways of calculating it were:

  1. To add up all the people on all the types of possible benefits and get to a total. 
  2. To look at the AIHW (Aust. Institute of Health and Welfare) figures of what percentage of the population was disabled, then multiply this by the total population. 

The latter method gave figures about ten times greater.  So clearly if help or services were made more available, the numbers involved were going to blow out hugely from what was currently funded.

John Howard passed the Aged Care Act in 1998, which was the blueprint for the privatisation of the sector. Old people are very vulnerable. They have often sold the family home, so they are temporarily cashed up, looking for accommodation and long term care with mental and physical facilities failing, or they would not be there.  Carers faced with responsibilities that they were not used to and uncertain of what care was needed were easy pickings also.  The whole sector is more like a dysfunctional real estate market; a market failure due to insufficient ‘consumer information’, but also distorted incentives and priorities.

The NDIS was similar.  Private operators with slick marketing made promises which would not be tested for some time, but people were signed up now.  The not-for profit sector had never paid staff well, but most had a ‘care ethos’.  Some of the private providers did not, and regulatory supervision was minimal. The government was pro-business and trying to give away responsibility. 

But an absolute shortage of services was still a big factor.  A neighbour who was a 95 year old retired academic widower wanted 2 hours a week of home help.  For some reason he could not get a community nurse.   The best deal he could get was 2 sessions of 2 hours at $65 an hour.  The lady delivering the service was paid $21/hr.  So much for private services; the ‘overheads’ are huge.  I had suggested to Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Vision in 2000 that the Government needed to licence service providers as individuals if they wanted a market model, and our neighbour could have selected a person on a one to one basis.  (I never even got an acknowledgement).

Now the government wants ‘independent assessors’ to evaluate cases, presumably to lessen costs.  A number of points can be made about this.  It assumes that the assessors will learn more about the patient in an interview than the people who work with them already know.  The new management philosophy since the 1980s always assumes that a manager at the top will know more than the person actually doing the job.  Naturally if the object is to save money and have the person at the bottom paid minimally, requiring no skills and interchangeable in staffing, this may be true.  But if the people at the bottom were respected, trained and empowered, the need for the middle level experts might be much less.

‘Independent Medical expert’ assessors are used in the Workers Compensation and CTP systems.  They work for agencies hired by insurance companies.  Often they find the patients either have nothing wrong with them, or it is degenerative and not related to their injury.  These experts are even flown from interstate and save insurers money by denying treatments. Presumably if they find in favour of the patients, their agency gives them less work.  The agency takes its cut and has to please the insurer.  So the systems are more complicated and an ever higher percentage of the money is spent in trying not to give services.  The NZ National Accident Compensation scheme, though it was government owned, went to a private insurance model and the same thing happened.  Doctors who had a track record of denying liability were flown around the country to do their medicals.

The assumption may still be that well intentioned assessors still can do better.  My widowed mother lived alone in the family home and had a stroke.  A neighbour noticed her confused, walking on the balcony.  She recovered, but seemed to have lost some judgement.  She was assessed by an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) who said that she could live alone in supported accommodation. So we got her into a unit in the grounds of an old house, where she could book a dinner at a days’ notice in the communal dining room, have a nurse onsite during the day, and had a right to a nursing home bed if she ever needed one.  Seemed perfect.  She said that she could look after herself. Can you microwave a dinner?  Yes. OK. Do it.  It got done.  No problem. Dinners in the frig. Sweets in the jar on the mantelpiece; see you in 2 days.  Arrive in 2 days.  Dinners still in the frig. Lolly jar empty. Very hungry- can we go to lunch?  She could do anything when asked, but could not initiate a process. She could not think to get a dinner from the frig, or book lunch tomorrow in the communal dining room, nor ask for help.  The one-off team could not pick this.  Neither did the family. But it emerged when the situation at home was known. This is just a story, but a carer who is savvy and properly trained will know more than a university-qualified assessor who has only a short knowledge of the patient.  And naturally the person on the job actually delivers the service and is not an extra cost. They can also judge relative needs of people on a run or in an area if resources are limited.

So the scheme to bring in assessors is the tip of an iceberg. 

Private insurance models have huge problems at many levels.  The overheads of Medicare are a bit under 5%. The overheads of Private Health Insurers are about 12%, and they cannot refuse to pay doctors.  The overheads of US Health insurers are about 12-36%, as the best way to improve profits is to cut costs (payments to patients) rather than increase services and then try to prove you have and sell on that basis.  At the bottom of the efficiency barrel is our own NSW CTP system with overheads of almost 50%. The question has to be what is the focus of the system?  Delivering services, or saving money?  The US health insurers, like our CTP scheme are very good at making money.  What they make their money from just happens to be people rather than widgets.  The main cost savings of privatisation seems to be destroying award conditions and lowering ‘staff costs’.  The immense administrative savings from universal systems, where determining entitlement and paying for profits are eliminated cannot be matched by any private system, despite what the ideologues might pretend.

The NDIS is currently a fund supposedly to help people with disabilities.  These people apply to get ‘packages’ of money and services.  Businesses persuade people to spend their packages with them. It is a market.  But there are more people with disabilities than was expected, for the reasons discussed above.  So a new level of assessors, were to be rolled in, but a huge outcry has prevented this temporarily.  But the problems that led to the need for the assessors remain implicit in the design of the NDIS, which is fatally flawed.  The government, particularly this one, is not going to take this very large bag of lollies from the private sector.  The totally inefficient Private Health Insurers (PHI) give money to political parties and advance by stealth, letting Medicare become irrelevant for health care. Disability is now also privatised, and a new private lobby is in there.  It has not yet generated a Royal Commission into its rip-offs, but it will, not that the Aged Care Royal Commission has stopped the privatisation of aged care.  The political forces are too great.  It is ironic that as Medicare is starved and pays less and less of the doctors’ fees its levy was increased, using a wave of sympathy for people with disabilities to make a bigger pool of money for increasingly private disability providers.

How to fix the problem?

I do not pretend to have all wisdom on this, but in dealing with difficult political problems I think it is wise to set a direction, take some basic steps and consult widely, looking for advice particularly from those who do not get an immediate financial benefit.

Here is a start:

Recognise that disability is not a sickness.  Some disabilities are inherited; others are acquired due to accident, illness or aging. The sector is quite diverse, often divided up by the type of disability or how it was acquired.   Sickness has an ‘episode’ model, based on traditional infectious diseases or surgical treatment models. Disability tends to be long-term and may improve or be worked around, or may degenerate gradually. As such it needs long-term solutions like welfare, but using the term ‘welfare’ now implies charity. Disability funding is funding to enable those less fortunate to have as normal a life as possible. From our common wealth, we give more to those who need more so that our society has equal opportunity for all. We are being taught that tax must be minimised and if we are getting less than we pay we are being ripped off.  A better model is to consider the statement by Rhonda Galbally, ex-CEO of VicHealth, ‘There are two populations, the disabled and the not-yet disabled; if you are lucky enough to be in the second group, you should be happy to help pay for the first’.

The idea of a universal service obligation is the cornerstone.  We should start with the assumption that people with disabilities should live in our  society with as  normal a life as possible and we should adapt to support them in as cost-effective way as possible. 

My suggestion is that the Community Nursing service is the basic structural framework.  We assume that people with disabilities will be living in society, and need varied and integrated support.  If they are born with a disability or acquire one, they will come in contact with the acute hospital system, which will hopefully document their situation and alert the community support system.  People on the ground will then liaise with family to see what support there is for independent living, and organise resources, calling in specialists of required. The cost of home support may be part of a package or allowance.  Individuals may register to offer services for everything from shopping, cleaning and lawn mowing to medical or paraplegic support services.  The government will register and insure both practitioners and those who use their services and may put training requirements on those who wish to register for some skills.  A market with consumer feedback as exists for restaurants or other practitioners will allow people to hire help directly without big corporations adding massive overheads.

Whether the monies are paid separately of via Centrelink is an administrative question, but Centrelink has to have a major makeover so that it is not the niggardly decider of the ‘worthy poor’ with its chief function being to avoid paying anyone, or paying as little as possible.  If society cannot find everyone employment, we must share what we have to those who are disadvantaged by disability or circumstance. This will collide head on with the problem of increased numbers of those with disabilities, but the extra load must be seen as part of having a decent society. 

The way we are going seems to be privatising, allowing huge profits, then running out of money and shutting the gate on those who do not yet have packages.   The independent assessors were merely the instruments of Managers who were not able to make their own assessments and did not trust the people who actually deliver the services.  The assessor problem was the tip of the iceberg of a system that has all its underlying assumptions wrong, but sadly has a lot of  political power that having been created, may not be able to be undone.  The first step is to understand what is happening.  Hence this lengthy post.

www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-09/ndis-disability-independent-assessments-model-dead-after-meeting/100277324

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The IMF suggests taxing those who have benefited from the COVID pandemic.

4 April 2021

So I guess that would be the companies that had just a part of their organisation drop 30% in turnover for a short period, and then claimed for the whole company for a long time- the people mentioned in Michael West’s article yesterday. Here is the article below from the SMH today. And yes, it is the IMF, hardly a Leftie organisation suggesting this, though the Greens did also.

Tax those who prospered during pandemic to repair budget: IMF

Shane Wright, 4 April 2021

Sydney Morning Herald, Senior economics correspondent

The International Monetary Fund has urged nations to consider using the Abbott government’s temporary budget repair levy to overcome the huge deficits left by the coronavirus recession, warning deep cuts to spending could lead to political instability.

Amid predictions Australia’s budget deficit could be $50 billion less than feared, the IMF has also suggested taxes on “excess” profits such as the abandoned mining resource rent tax.

Governments around the world have all been forced to run huge deficits to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, with collective deficits approaching 13 per cent of global GDP. Australia’s deficit, forecast to reach $197.9 billion this financial year, is close to 10 per cent of GDP.

The IMF, in its fiscal monitor report ahead of this week’s world economic outlook, said that while governments had been forced to run large deficits there had also been an increase in income and wealth inequality because of the pandemic.

It said governments faced difficult decisions on how to cover their large deficits while also not exacerbating inequality.

Among budget repair options, the IMF said those nations with “robust tax systems” could look to increase top personal income tax rates, similar to the budget repair levy put in place by the Abbott government in 2014.

“Temporary increases in personal income tax rates (often restricted to the highest income brackets) were previously introduced during exceptional circumstances in Germany, Australia and Japan,” it said.

The budget repair levy, which was a 2 per cent impost on people earning more than $180,000 a year, ran between 2014 and 2017, raising more than $3 billion to help reduce the budget deficit.

The IMF said another option was to tax so-called “economic rents” or super-profits, targeting those sectors that had done well during the pandemic.

“Taxes on ‘excess’ profits, either in addition to or instead of the regular corporate income tax, can assure a contribution from businesses that prosper during the crisis (such as some pharmaceutical and highly digitalised businesses) and not affect companies (and their workers) otherwise earning minimal profits or incurring losses,” it said.

The fund warned trying to repair budgets by cutting expenditure on services or support to those left behind by growing inequality could lead to substantial political problems.

The Morrison government has pledged not to increase taxes, as the Abbott government pledged ahead of the 2013 election.

Very high iron ore prices, strong GST returns and a better-thanexpected economy are already reducing the budget deficit.

Deutsche Bank economist Phil Odonaghoe said it was not inconceivable the deficit could be half of what had been predicted in the mid-year update.

He cautioned everything would have to go right for that to occur, which would result in a deficit of about $100 billion. Even that would still be a record budget shortfall.

Mr Odonaghoe said a deficit of about $150 billion was more likely, which would set up the budget for future years. “The better starting point in 2020-21 also means smaller deficits across the forward projection period. On our revised profile, the federal budget could conceivably return to balance by 2025-26,” he said.

ANZ economists Hayden Dimes and David Plank said the deficit would be as low as $155 billion because of the better expected economic conditions.

But they cautioned some of this improvement was due to GST receipts.

Due to the way the GST is refunded to the states and territories, the better revenue this financial year could end up a shortfall in 2021-22.

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The Cost of Colonialism

27 February 2021

Most of the wealth of the West is built on the labour of countries that are paid less.

The British Empire was built on exploiting other countries. India the most, being the biggest, but the gold of Africa and the riches of Australia and Canada were not trivial.

Colonialism pre-1900 insisted that the coloniser took over, and in Britain’s case put their flag on the colony’s flag. After 1900, things became a bit more subtle. The financial arrangements were made, but not advertised on flags. The US in the Philippines is a good example, or its efforts in South America.

It is good that this is discussed as in the article below. It is the first step in change, though note that the article is from 2018, so the discussion is by no means inevitable.

As there is free trade since WW2 top level capitalists get stuff made in low cost countries then sell it in high cost countries. The rip-offs continue but there is still a gradual transfer of both capital and expertise to developing countries, as well as the transfer of jobs, that is squeezing developed country jobs.

The greatest challenge for the next generation is to have justice between nations without the West’s lifestyle being destroyed; you could call it a controlled climbdown. Some method of evening the wealth within Western countries might be a start.

www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2018/12/19/how-britain-stole-45-trillion-from-india?fbclid=IwAR0JosFy8foda9iCMA-arjrccEEgsNUeQVINetrH3PoILVAGutePbgNHEMo

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Housing Stimulus: More Middle Class Welfare 5/6/20

Successive governments have used the building industry to pump up the economy on credit.  How so?  For decades the tax deduction on negatively geared real estate has made housing a favoured investment. It has been the no-brainer way to make money. You borrow to own a property, and as long as it is your, all the capital gain is yours.  So the lesser fraction that you own, the greater the percentage rise in your total assets.  And since you save on tax and gain rent, it is far better than shares or other assets. If you ask to borrow 90% to buy shares, no bank would lend you 90%. They would fall about laughing, and you would be taking a big risk.  If you wanted to borrow 90% of real estate, no problem- all perceived as low risk.  How come?  Because Australia’s private debt is rising and is now the highest in the world.  This little Ponzi scheme has a cost. We have the best houses, which are the most expensive relative to our incomes, and we have a huge national private debt, which means that we pay interest to foreign banks and have no money to develop and own our own country.  Like all Ponzi schemes, it is OK as long as you sell out before the bubble pops.  The older generation are doing this, cashing out as the younger generation takes up the huge loans that are now necessary.

The tax department got less money to create this mess, so public housing was not built, and there is a huge shortage of public housing.  Because prices are so high there is also a problem in affordable housing as wages in the real world have stagnated as globalisation allows jobs to go offshore to be done more cheaply by third world people.  The negative gearing thing amounts to middle class welfare, where those who had one house were able to buy more, and those that did not merely saw rents and prices rise.  Labor tried to address this and lost the election.

Now we have a recession, worsened by the COVID-19 crisis and the taxpayer has to step in, making more debt for the future.  So what projects to spend the money on?  More middle class welfare! Those who already have $150,000 to improve their house get another $25,000 from the future taxpayer, the young people of today.

It is merely another example of the Morrison government’s lack of commitment to a fair go for all. This could be a huge opportunity to build social housing to help those who have been left behind.  Is the excuse that the projects are not ‘shovel-ready’?  The government could pay for the huge outstanding renovations and repair bill on the public housing, which has been neglected for 30 years.  Surely these repair lists on yellowed paper could be found and actioned.

Morrison governs for his voters, not for the country as a whole. His policies increase inequality, which stores discord for the future.  This last effort will further the Matthew Effect, named after the biblical quote, ‘For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away’.

— Matthew 25:29, RSV.

www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/03/morrison-government-to-offer-25000-grants-to-help-build-and-renovate-homes

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