Tuesday June 27, 2017
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Newmania: Why CanDo Is Still Being A Can't On NDIS

A dangling carrot before the electoral donkey, the NDIS funding in Queensland doesn't start until the 2014-15 budget and actual services don't commence until 2018.

Social media lit up with excitement on Wednesday, as Queensland Premier Campbell Newman called a presser to announce his 'commitment' to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The media scrambled to the Cerebral Palsy League hosted event. To add to the drama, the Minister for Disabilities, Tracy Davis was parachuted in from holidays. Even Treasurer Tim Nicholls, a long term opponent of the NDIS, popped in.

The previous week, Nicholls had described the NDIS as 'a hoax'. A phrase that echoed Federal Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey's 'NDIS Cruel Hoax Speech' at the National Press Club.

Even the Federal Government was surprised by the planned announcement. Calls by The Courier Mail to the offices of The Primer Minister & Qld Senator Jan McLucas revealed they had not received anything by way of an agreement from the Qld Government.

Yet, it was building up to be the event that would stop the Queensland disability nation. We sat through the usual LNP spiel about the previous Government's fiscal irresponsibility (which seems to be the normal prelude to all press gatherings these days). With great expectation we listened, watched and read live reporter's tweets as Newman lit the NDIS Christmas tree.  However, there were a few bulbs missing.

We don't have an 'agreement', a 'commitment' or a 'sign-off'. We have the Premier's word.  From the outset this may seem 'as good as'.  However, for the benefit of folks living outside of Queensland, we've seen far too many statements from the Newman Government on a whole range of platforms which either result in backflips or become broken promises. In the current climate, it is extremely difficult for Queenslanders to take Premier Newman at his word.

Well might you ask; the announcement is a step in the right direction? Yep, I agree it's looking better. He's copped a serious amount of flak from the disability community in Queensland with petitions, letters, complaints and a procession of visitors to his office in Ashgrove.  I've given him a far bit of stick on here and over twitter. At least he's acknowledging we're not happy and we seem to have nudged him in the right direction.

Light Bulb 1 Sign-off

Now to the first faulty Christmas tree light bulb. I saw one carer's comment on Facebook that her Christmas present had been delivered and her son would receive the help he needed from next year. People were excitedly facebooking, tweeting and writing articles that Queensland had 'signed off' on NDIS.

Not true. Premier Newman did not take out a pen and sign anything at the presser. The only thing he signed was a letter sent during the day to disability reform minister, Jenny Macklin and the Prime Minister stating Qld's interest & offer. We've seen this  before. Prior to his famous 'Qld will be like Spain' speech at COAG midyear, he fired off a 1.5 page letter of interest to Macklin.

 Light Bulb 2 The Deal

Lightbulb two; the deal will see funding set aside in the Queensland 2014-15 budget. This is where Treasurer Tim Nicholls comes in. He feels we will be in a surplus by then and he'll be able to allocate the millions. Successive years will see more funding set aside until a pool of $868 million is created by 2018. He'll add this to the standard Queensland budget to give a total of $1.77 billion. He's asking the Federal Government to chip in a further $2.2 billion.

However, there is an escape hatch; no budget surplus, no funding, seemingly channelling previous sentiments made federally by Joe Hockey.  The previous week, at COAG, Newman stated we could not join the NDIS as Queensland needed to increase the State's deficit by a further $10 billion in order 'to keep the lights on'.  This week Newman stated that his 'fiscal repair measures' such as public sector cuts and service cuts has helped achieve budget for the NDIS. A miracle when you consider his statement at COAG just a few days earlier.

 Light Bulb 3 No NDIS Trial

Light bulb three; no NDIS trial in Queensland will be arranged. States like NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT have all allocated regions where the scheme will begin mid 2013. Critics argue that we don't need trials, we need the 'full blown' NDIS right now. However, the trials are important because they give input into the plan from the actual people receiving the benefits.

 Light Bulb 4 Another Committee

Light bulb four, another committee; instead of the trial we get a Queensland NDIS Planning and Implementation Group. Last thing we need is another conference room of people discussing NDIS up until 2018.

 Light Bulb 5 Election Promise

Light bulb five, the election issue; like a dangling carrot before the electoral donkey, the NDIS funding doesn't start until the 2014-15 budget and actual services don't commence until 2018. Now that's a double election promise. Get excited and vote 1 Newman for NDIS!

 Light Bulb 3 A Premier Seeking Praise

Light bulb six, a Premier seeking our praise; not less that 24 hours after making his announcement, Newman appeared in The Courier Mail under a headline Premier Worthy Of NDIS Praise written by Staff Writers (or the perhaps the Faceless Newmanics, yes there are still a few people who support him). Given the timing, dated December 13, 2012 at 12:00am, (13 hours after the announcement) it was obviously a LNP manufactured rocket primed and ready for firing.

The piece attacked the Qld Oppostion Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk for trying to make 'political mileage' for her comments that the funding would ultimately fall short of what was required by 2018. How terrible of her to get the calculator out. It also went on to attack the Prime Minister and Jenny Macklin for not immediately accepting Newman's letter, despite the fact that there was no consultation or explanation as to how Nicholls had arrived at his funding model.

Is he worthy of praise? Far from it. He hasn't done anything yet.

It proved my worst fears had manifested. Newman was now back to playing the political blame game. It's a well trod path for him on a range of Fed/State issues. Newman had returned from the mid-year COAG telling Australia that Queensland would be 'Spained' if he didn't act. Meanwhile, Treasurer Tim Nicholls was off to Asia, telling everyone Queensland was a good investment. Newman announced a new $2 billion casino to be built out of the parliamentary building. He funded Queensland racing to $110 million and topped up country racing with a further $4 million. He even wrote a $220,000 cheque for Big Brother to be continued on the Gold Coast. He put through a bill to re-establish the Gold Coast Waterways at a cost of $30 million.

He announced job cuts to 14,000 public servants after promising they had 'nothing to fear'. He presided over the sharpest rise in unemployment in Queensland's history.  Crime rose for the first time in ten years. At last report Foodbank Queensland was feeding 100,000 people per week in the greater Brisbane area. He cut the funding to kid's programs from cadets to aides for children with hearing impairments and medical programs such as vaccination for whooping cough. He terminated the funding for Queensland's Tenant Advice & Advocacy Service leaving it to the Federal Government to step in an rescue the rental service from collapse.

On the ground, it had became clear that austerity would be applied to some of us but not others.

Over the course of 8 months, two of his ministers resigned from their portfolios. A number of internal skirmishes have led to 3 LNP MP's resigning from his government. His ministers have a proven track record of bad (or selective) diary and register keeping.

Today, a day after NDIS Newman, he called another presser to announce a commission of inquiry into the problems with the Queensland Health Payroll system. No doubt this will begin a whole series of  'he said-she said' and 'gotcha' politics aimed at the former Bligh Government. Initial cost allocation is $5 million with additional funding available if required.

To Queenslanders, it's now a matter of trust. Do we trust Newman to deliver on NDIS? Are all of his 2012 mishaps behind him, put down to simple teething troubles? It'll now be up to the electorate to decide on Newman's plan for NDIS at the 2015 poll.
Nelson Mandela said, "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." Imagine a Queensland Premier of hearts and minds, one that said 'This is too important, we're going to do NDIS now. Casinos, waterways and racecourse upgrades will have to wait till 2014-15 budget.'

Would business be unhappy? Probably. They'll get over it because disability touches everyone directly or by association.

Would we, the common folk, be happy? We'd be ecstatic, high-fiving and popping the champagne corks for real right now.

Go on, tell me I'm dreaming.

Related Links:
Newman’s numbers don’t add up on NDISResponse from Jenny Macklin: Newman’s numbers don’t add up on NDIS
Premier worthy of NDIS praise Premier worthy of NDIS praise
Queensland Government plan on NDISQueensland Government plan on NDIS
Queensland Jobs Rewarded To The LNP FaithfulQueensland Jobs Rewarded To The LNP Faithful
Newman's Election Promise: Better Support For Queenslanders With Disabilities And Their FamiliesNewman's Election Promise: Better Support For Queenslanders With Disabilities And Their Families
Disability Care and Support Productivity Commission Executive SummaryDisability Care and Support Productivity Commission Executive Summary
Telling Qld one thing, foreign investors another.Telling Qld One Thing, Foreign Investors Another
Telling Qld one thing, foreign investors another.Newman Government Delivers Gold Coast Racing Upgrade


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