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While i don’t want to dismiss the angst I see in the commentary on the Welfare review lets keep a couple of things in perspective here, firstly no matter how much the government may want to do any of the things that make up the sum of all of the fears expressed here they do not have the senate and those with the balance of power there are not going to be able to pass the enabling legislation to change very much of the status quo.
Secondly one thing that the review is right about is that the current welfare system is very complicated and confusing both for those who now rely on it for their sustenance and for those who have to administer it. Further to that there is the popular myth that getting on to the DSP is in any sense easy or that it is subject to a great deal of fraud. Frankly if this government were to find savings with better administration and simpler process without hurting any of the vulnerable I don’t think anyone would object. Given the senate we have now I do expect some changes in the way that the department is run are very likely to eventuate rather than this government doing to the disabled what Gillard did to single mothers .
On the matter of encouraging work, well its fine in principle but I find it difficult to believe that there is even enough unpaid volunteer work to viably engage very many of the disabled especially when you consider the extra support that many of the disabled would need to be able to work at all. So if you are starting form a purely economic point of view it may well be that the cost of forcing or coercing the “unwilling” disabled to “work” is far greater than the value of the work that they may be able to do. Further to this there has been no consideration of the contributions that so many disabled people make to their families and communities. Things like the child care and good old domestic duties that they do for their families and the contributions that they already make to their communities with their involvement in a great deal of volunteering. Of course much of this is totally invisible to the general public who sadly think that shows like “Housos ” is reality TV rather than greatly exaggerated satire. There certainly has to have been some fraud because no system of welfare can be immune to it. But there are enough checks and balances that make it less common than some would have us believe.
Taking that all on board I can’t help but think that this whole thing is a very big ambit claim because the government must know that they will not get the sort of changes that are mooted here through the senate so I think that their end game here has to be to seek simpler and less expensive ways to administer the welfare system while minimizing the possibility of having to run a gauntlet angry starving cripples on the way to the next election, because if they don’t tread lightly here then the desire to reform welfare could become Tony Abbotts’ “Gimpchoices” that sees their much needed tenure in the lodge cut short .