NDIS – Well intended: wrongly based: seriously flawed

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is required by law to provide “reasonable and necessary supports” to help eligible people with a disability live more independently.

The Agency administering  NDIS is governed by the NDIS Act, (191 pages!) the Rules and the Operational Guidelines.

Not supposed to have  predetermined criteria for ‘reasonable and necessary supports’. Different people with the same type and severity of disability may  require different kinds of help.  NDIS only funds a support if it is considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ and is directly related to a person’s disability. What’s covered varies from person to person.

Determining what supports are reasonable and necessary involves subjective assessments by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which administers the scheme, or its contractors. 

Planners are employed or contracted by the agency to help each applicant identify their goals and draft a plan. The plan sets out the supports needed to achieve their goals. Participants are then allocated funds for these supports, which, the Agency suggests ‘must represent value for money’. Funds can only be used to achieve the goals in the NDIS plan.

NDIS offers ‘three main ways to manage your plan and its budgets (and you can change how you do this at any time, you just need to ask the NDIS) or you can choose a combination of options. Plan managed and Self managed and Agency managed  How to choose which one is challenging even for someone with tertiary education and no disability!

The NDIS uses tight definitions when  allocating individual support packages. It doesn’t duplicate other formal supports such as health and education. It does not pay  day-to-day living costs or the kind of help able to be given readily by family and friends.

Guidelines say the NDIA will fund daily living activities, social activities, aids and equipment and home modification that are necessary.  At a practical level the NDIA assessor decides what is reasonable and necessary and  if someone gets an individual support package or misses out.

NDIS delivery – more problems than you can poke a stick at, including:-

    • Baffling –  complex,  complicated, too bureaucratic and too hard to navigate
    • People are waiting too long – for entry, for support, for equipment, for reviews
    • Carers, particularly those caring for children, have often to be on hand and work 24/7 – no access to respite and help with a singularly challenging role
    • People need more help at every stage of the process – with applying, with planning, and with getting their plan into action
    • Staff lack basic skills, are not experienced in different kinds of disability and lack resources to call on when they need help.
    • Some employees and contractors stay briefly with  NDIS  – quit ASAP – too stressful and confused
    • Some people have to  go into significant debt paying for assessments to try and gain access to the scheme (if they can borrow at all)
    • People on Newstart, Disability Support Pension, the homeless and others who don’t present well to NDIS contractors and staff often see their applications rejected. Assessors have no life experience or professional understanding of these people and their needs.

In 2018, the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigated the NDIS’s handling of reviews on the basis that around one-third of all complaints it received about the scheme related to this issue. This system was judged “unapproachable” and “lacking in fairness and transparency” and leading to delays of up to nine months to receive an outcome.

The NDIA received significant criticism for spending over A$600 million in 2017-18 on consultants, contractors and outsourced staff.

NDIS is NOT an insurer or corporation – it is about people and society, not an economy

NDIS is set up as a ‘pretend’ insurer or corporation/business – it is not about $$$$ and taxes and budgets and bureaucratic crap designed to scare and belittle those in need. The disabled, aged, sick, and disadvantaged are people. We  live in a society, not an economy.

NDIS should be scrapped and what it is intended to do should be done by the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services, which includes Centrelink and Medicare and Child Support.

 Centrelink is, already,  ‘….responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provide access to social, health and other payments and service. This includes seniors, job seekers students and trainees, families, carers, parents, people with disability,Indigenous Australians , and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Medicare funds access to health care. This covers some of a disabled person’s  needs. The  Medical Benefits Scheme, provides benefits including:-

    • out-of-hospital medical services, including general practitioner (GP) and specialist services
    • selected diagnostic imaging and pathology services
    • allied health services in limited circumstances
    • medical services for private patients in public and private hospitals (excluding accommodation, theatre fees and medicines).

Suggested  ways to effectively deliver “reasonable and necessary supports” to help eligible people with a disability live more independently.

    1. If someone is unable to hold a job because of disability or the needs of a disabled person for whom they are a carer, they  should get a pension, equal to the Australian Minimum Wage, presently about $741 per week. In addition, a supplementary payment aimed at mitigating the financial pressures inherent to disability and common to most disable persons  and carers – travel to health professionals, costs with maintaining houses and equipment and similar things.
    2. Those who work despite disability  should receive supplementary payments to mitigate the additional cost inherent in travel and being in a workplace whilst suffering from a disability.
    3. These supplementary payments should be ‘generic’: those relative few who need more should get more on application – the  bonus for the relative few who need less is offset against the admin. cost of case by case application.
    4. Medicare, which already funds access to health care, should be ‘tweaked’ to cover as many needs common to people with a disability as possible. The special needs of a relative few  should be case-managed promptly competently and with empathy.

Other necessary measures suggested

A Job Guarantee Program, which Australia and much of the World needs desperately, would be particularly useful, cost effective and inclusive resource for the disabled . See this Blog September 2019 Unemployment – A Job Guarantee Solution

A Job Guarantee Program would complement programs aiding people with disability.  A Community Garden is already acknowledged to be an outstanding resource.

Those with mobility issues and many other problems find enormous difficulty  in finding work. Employers don’t appreciate that a disability need  not preclude employment. It needs to be demonstrated by a Government Agency  that the disabled are a valuable resource  too.

There is substantial evidence to suggest that obesity and being overweight along with substance abuse are significant causes or contributing factors in  many disabilities – Type 2 Diabetes, Dementia, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer’s – many more.

National action to drawn attention to the dire consequences for both health and disability and to deter or curtail the use of junk food and ‘soda’ and promote health eating and lifestyles would be both efficacious and cost effective.

Please comment – your full name need not be given – nickname or first name will do

Unemployment – A Job Guarantee Solution

In Australia at the end of September 2019 there are around 700,000 persons unemployed. A further 1.1 million persons are underemployed. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6226.0

Unemployment and the associated poverty and social ill effects include:-

  1. The longer people stay unemployed, the more they lose work-skills and non-government employers tend to prefer to hire from those already working or who have been unemployed short-term.
  2. Poverty reduces people’s capacity to buy nutritious food, housing and health care.
  3. Unemployment can indirectly affect health because of reduced participation in society or from the stress of financial strain.
  4. Prolonged unemployment can lead to an erosion of skills, basically robbing the economy of otherwise useful talents. 
  5. Unemployment can force families to deny educational opportunities to their children and deprive the economy of those future skills
  6. Particular parts of the community are more severely affected than others, exacerbating problems of inequality within metropolitan areas and between the cities and some regional areas. Outback Qld circa 13% Youth around 20%.
  7. Mature-age job seekers lose their skills tend to be lost over time, particularly as they are more likely to experience longer periods unemployed. These skills are also lost to the labour market and industry.
  8.  Prolonged unemployment can lead to greater skepticism and pessimism about the value of education and training – workers less willing to invest in the years of training some jobs require.
  9. Young people are particularly adversely affected – large numbers, particularly in rural and remote areas – a dreadful situation for them to be in to face a meaningful future in our society.
  10. Government’s providing derisive and inadequate income support eg Newstart to provide a Budget Surplus!!!!
  11. Drugs, alcohol abuse and crime flourish in a poor, unemployed community.

Distinguished British economist John Maynard Keynes, as long ago as the 1930’s wrote : ‘… outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.’  https://www.investopedia.com/terms/k/keynesianeconomics.asp  

The government should introduce a Job Guarantee that offers a job at a living (minimum) wage to anyone who wants to work but cannot find employment. See:-https://futuretofightfor.org.au/policies/01/ and Associate Professor Pavlina Tcherneva  https://www.pavlina-tcherneva.net/job-guarantee-faq

The Australian government can afford this program because it has has no financial constraint as the issuer of the currency. A currency-issuing government can always choose the unemployment level once the spending and saving decisions of the non-government sector are implemented.

In terms of the overall working of a national economy ( macroeconomics), a Job Guarantee would be an automatic stabiliser that ensures that the Government is doing necessary amount of spending where it is needed in the right places and right time to achieve full employment with stable prices.

When the private sector is recovering, federal government spending would automatically fall as people leave the Job Guarantee for higher paid jobs elsewhere.

When the private sector experienced a downturn, federal government spending would automatically increase as people lose their private sector jobs and enter the Job Guarantee. 
Unemployment is a major loss of valuable productive resources, depressing the economic economic growth and lowering our standard of living of the whole community.

Offsetting the cost of a Job Guarantee would include lesser demand for Centrelink services, enhanced tax revenue and receipts, including those on superannuation and investments.
The costs associated with substance abuse, including health care costs and police interventions would lessen. Unemployment and its adverse social effects adds very substantially to on-going and escalating Government spending.

Local economies, particularly those in Rural and Remote areas would see an enhanced economy and small businesses would have better prospects.

Training must be included, to ensure that the unemployed are equipped with skills that will be needed when the private economy starts again to employ more people.

Not a “work for the dole” proposal. This is voluntary, full time employment, guaranteed and managed by the government.  It is not intended to be compulsory: it’s there for people who want to work. How to deal sensibly and humanely with those who are able to work and refuse to do so should examined and addressed – it is beyond the ambit of this paper.

Those who cannot work because of drug or alcohol dependencies should be offered health care, training counselling and more to equip them for meaningful work.

Job Guarantee Programs should be managed at local area or even neighbourhood levels. Each area’s Program must be managed and supervised  by appropriately qualified people – a well paid, sought-after job. (eg – maybe Centrelink staff, fewer of which would be now needed).

Some Job Guarantee examples

  • Noxious Weed eradication – pests: graffiti
  • Rubbish removal on beaches and in waterways
  • Road Maintenance at low levels – small truck/4 or so workers- potholes, rubbish.
  • Bike paths – many rural roads see cyclists at risk from traffic. Path enhancement is useful and ‘pick and shovel’
  • Climate change responses – tree planting and care 
  • Aged Care needs, care etc – working with the long term professionals.
  • Community gardens, particularly in remote areas – good tucker for kids, aged, deprived.
  • Enhanced care of National Parks, recreation areas, sporting facilities, school premises and streets and neighbourhoods generally
  • Maybe ‘Night Watch’ patrols – DON’T approach or  try to apprehend suspicious parties – just call the Police!
  • Indigenous health, nutrition, social and other problem areas  – Care for Country. 
  • Gardens for fresh produce in remote areas, particularly Aboriginal and Islander Communities.

 The points made above are only a very broad outline – see here  and  generally  online and elsewhere for much more information.


Deficits and Budget Surpluses

We must also balance the budget!

Both Labor and Liberal/National Coalition are still making Policy decisions based upon  outdated ideas about how a modern economy really works. Governments, much of the media, some economists, academics and others are just as uninformed.  Most of the rest of us believe what we have been told without looking too hard at the substance of what we are told: economics is boring and we have our lives to live.

The Australian Budget 2017/2018 intended to-

  return to balance in 2020-21 and continuing projected surpluses ….will enable a reduction in debt. This will place Australia in a better position to withstand any future economic downturns. It will reduce the need to increase taxes or cut back on essential services ….by living within its means the Government will not burden future generations with debt from today’s everyday spending. From 2018-19, debt will not be required to fund recurrent spending for the first time since the GFC. This will make Australia stronger and more resilient to the shocks that may come its way.

See  Australian Budget.

These statements of intent are totally at odds with the reality for a Sovereign Currency Nation’s public purpose. Australia issues its own currency, $A. It can  run a pure deficit, without borrowings. A budget surplus  drains savings from the private sector and that leads to loss of jobs and less work done. The Government has to spend money into existence. Without that there can be no tax. 

Nobel Prize winning economist William Vickrey wrote-

‘If a budget balancing program should actually be carried through …sooner or later a crash comparable to that of 1929 would almost certainly result. .. relinquish our unreasoned ideological obsession with reducing government deficits…the economy and not the government budget that needs balancing …-

Vickrey, William A Disquisition on Demand Side Economics William Vickrey October 5, 1996)

A Sovereign Currency Nation’s government like Australia’s primary purpose is to improve the well-being of its population. Balancing budgets is an irrelevant and destructive blind alley.
The real economy is what is relevant to well-being, care for the environment, defence, research education, aged-care and employment (and so much more).

A Sovereign Currency Government issues the currency and it must first spend it by crediting private bank accounts before it can tax – by debiting bank accounts. The claim that governments must tax or borrow to ‘finance’ its spending is false under a fiat-currency system. See – https://www.investopedia.com › Economy › Economics

The restrictions on government spending are the quantity of real goods and services available for sale in its own currency, including all the unemployed labour. The only constraint that a currency-issuing government, such as the Australian government faces, are how many real goods and services are available for sale in $A.

A currency-issuing government can, for example, mitigate the economic and social disaster caused by mass unemployment by spending enough. Aboriginal and Islander Communities could see a Job Guarantee based around care-for-country and the public good rather than destructive handouts and associated misguided measures.


Health and Education – School Gardens

As an Old Fart …. Elderly Gentleman, working with others at the Portarlington School’s Community Garden, I want to help with offering a food garden and its produce to provide better tucker and an understanding of the health and educational benefits of gardening, cooking and eating good food rather than the junk food and sugar-laden drinks promoted by intensive advertising.

This Blog acknowledges that Portarlington and much of the Bellerine is by no means as socially and economically challenged as the less fortunate neighbourhoods around which junk-food outlets cluster see Science Direct. However, the Portarlington School’s Community Garden and the support given to it by Portarlington Primary School’s Principal, Teachers and Staff may assist other School Gardens and Blogs and provide assistance to the community generally.

The economic burden of treating obesity-related diseases is estimated to rise from A$12 billion in 2014 to A$21 billion in 2025. We spend far, far less on measure to deal with obesity and its origins.

Back in the Herb Section of the Portarlington School’s Community Garden, I am working out how best to add – this week, Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) French Tarragon


French tarragon requires full sun to partial shade, rich, well-drained soil and regular watering. Soil should not be too wet. OK in large pots.

New plants must be produced from rooted cuttings or purchased as potted stock from a nursery, I am uncertain as at mid September if I can divide a container plant from home or buy some potted Tarragon from The Diggers Club https://www.diggers.com.au/– I am a member and will pass on members’ discount if pots are needed.

Climate Change and what we might do locally


Take Paradise and make it a parking (or housing) lot.

Development around St Leonards began as a result of using the Bellarine Peninsula as a source of firewood for Melbourne in the 1850s. A pier was built in 1855. The town consisted of a hotel, store and six houses in 1858.

Australia’s population has grown from an estimated population of around 500,000 or so at the time of British settlement in 1788. Since the end of the Second World War Australia’s population has more than doubled, from around 7,500,00 to around 28,000,00 today. If we keep increasing, 30 -40 million people will inhabit Australia within our grandchildren’s lifetime, unless Climate Change or other disasters intervene.

World population rate increased significantly after the industrial revolution. By 1950, around 2.5 billion people on earth. Since 1950, the total number of people on the planet has tripled to 7.6 billion today.

The on-going Amazon fires, presently much more intense and widespread than usual, destroy huge sections of the world’s largest rain forest. Their disastrous impact is consistent with what has been happening world-wide for millennia. In Australia too, forests, seas and lands have been impacted first by Aboriginal land use and ever so much more after European settlement in order to meet immediate needs for food, shelter and industry.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make it harder for the Earth to radiate an equal amount of the heat energy that comes from the Sun back into space. This retained heat increases the temperature of the Earth’s surface, ocean and atmosphere.

Because we burn much more fossil fuels and change land use patterns – forest to farms to deserts – the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising and causing surface temperatures – land and oceans – to increase. This will continue until enough extra heat can escape to space to re-balance.

Without any greenhouse gases, the Earth’s surface would be much colder – an average temperature of around minus 18 °C. Before industrialisation the incoming sunlight and outgoing heat were balanced. The World’s average temperatures were fairly steady – around plus 15 °C.

This climate change will see rising average temperatures, extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, see and a range of other impacts.

Climate and population issues are connected. The curves of population growth and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since 1880 almost precisely follow each other. Population growth automatically increases energy consumption, which in turn means increased greenhouse gas emissions- Overpopulation. See also United Nations Report

A dampened population growth in the world would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long term by 40 percent or more, according to a study in The Lancet from 2012. CO2 emissions from energy use respond almost proportionately to changes in population size.

Current responses to Climate Change focus on renewable energy, phasing out the use of coal and other fossil fuels, electric vehicles and clean energy technologies. These responses are necessary but on their own are far from adequate. Actions to contain and reverse population increase are missing. Unsustainable population growth is the root cause of our Climate Change crisis.

To quote from a Paper on the website of Australia’s Chief Scientist -” Based on data from typical perennial grasslands and mature forests in Australia, forests are typically more than 10 times as effective as grasslands at storing carbon on a hectare per hectare basis.” “Agriculture and forestry hold great potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through afforestation, soil-carbon management, and better management of livestock and cropping emissions -Action within the next decade to lower greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the probability and severity of climate change impacts. Aust Gov Chief Scientist

To deal with the threat to our existence posed by Climate Change, surely we should look first to what we need to do personally and locally. Ever increasing urbanisation, which sees forests replaced with houses and shopping centres and industry, is the biggest threat we face locally.

Urban development must be confined to existing areas – no further alienation of forest or farming land. Greater density and even high rise housing will see loss of local amenity but the ongoing expansion of housing estates is totally unsustainable.

We should also seek to direct attention, urgently, to the pressing need to reduce population growth – locally, nationally and world wide. Government’s focus must be on substantially reducing immigration levels, assisting communities World-wide with education, family planning and effective and readily accessible birth control programs. Foreign Aid programs should be substantially about reducing population growth – effectively, humanely and ethically.

We can’t return to the Sportsman’s Paradise – maybe we can survive?

Sovereign Currency

Australia’s Sovereign Currency

The Australian Government uses its own currency, issued by The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) USA, Japan, United Kingdom and New Zealand and many others do the same. Most European Countries do not have a common currency and use the Euro.

A Bank of England publication ( Quarterly Bulletin 2014):-

A central bank simply creates new money at the stroke of a computer key, in effect increasing the credit in its own bank account. It can then use this new money to buy whatever assets it likes’. http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/Pages/qe/default.aspx> .

Every time the Australian Government spends a dollar, it does so by crediting the reserves of a commercial bank which are held at the RBA (Australia’s central bank) by that dollar, and having the commercial bank credit the bank account of whoever has been the beneficiary of that spending. 

The Australian Government has an unlimited capacity to pay for things, to make contracted future payments and it has an unlimited ability to provide funds to the other sectors. The State and Local Governments cannot issue currency and rely on transfer payments from the Australian Federal Government, State and local taxes, stamp duties, rates, fines and fees, poker machine taxes etc.

A Sovereign Currency country – Doesn’t borrow in foreign currencies or peg its currency to any other: Spends and taxes only in its own currency, which floats against other currencies: and the central bank sets policy interest rate.

A Sovereign Currency country’s government can purchase anything that is available for sale in that currency including all idle labour. Productive resources need never be idle if they are looking to be used.

Growth in the money supply is critical for economic growth, and there are only two ways that the money supply can grow in a fiat currency system – Government spends more than it collects – runs a deficit or by private credit growth.\

Adding money to the economy is not inflationary until full economic capacity is achieved. Government spending is not constrained by inflation. It is constrained by the capacity of the real economy. Once spending (either by the private sector and/or the government sector) exceeds the capacity of the real economy inflation increases. 

The Australian Government does not fund its spending from taxes. Its capacity to spend is independent of taxation revenue. Taxation supports demand for the currency. The non government sector cannot pay taxes without the government first spending.  Sovereign Currency Governments spend first and tax afterwards

Taxpayers do not fund anything. Taxpayers simply lose or gain purchasing power as the national government manipulates the policy parameters in search of public purpose. Tax is all about the social consequences; that is the total impact of each tax on the real economy and on people’s well-being. In a modern economy, spending and taxing are economically separate activities.’

A Sovereign Currency Government can always buy or construct things or fund things if they can be paid for in its own currency. It must carefully consider the effect its spending on the economy, prices, unemployment levels, industrial and other output, foreign trade, etc but there is never a shortage of money unless it is self-imposed.



Portarlington School Community Garden

The herb garden section will include- Pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) –

  • Annuals
  • Sow in spring or summer – after becoming established they will self-sow around the garden.
  • All of the plant is edible.
  • Leaves and flowers are a bit sweet and slightly salty.
  • Pull off the petals and chuck some in salads or sandwich fillings or stir into some rice – fried rice, maybe.
  • Tastes and looks good!

Pot marigold

On 26th September I planted 4 seeds in biodegradable mini pots. Intend to plant in School’s garden when mature

I did this because it is difficult to ensure seeds planted directly into the garden will be watered regularly, particularly during school holidays. Direct planting is said to be the best method.

Parsley Soup

  • Take a bunch of parsley and wash it. I reckon the curly leaf tastes best but use flat leaf variety if you wish.
  • Roughly chop the parsley stems and separate stems and leaves. Keep the leaves aside at this stage.
  • Chop up a couple of large onions and a couple of garlic cloves fairly finely.
  • Cut a two or so large potatoes into dice.
  • Heat a good lot – around 3-4 tablespoons – of ideally, good locally produced olive oil in a large saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat.
  • Chuck in the onions , garlic and chopped parsley stems. Stir-fry gently for 10-15 minutes or so. Add the potatoes.
  • Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and leave the potatoes to soften. Add some vegetable or chicken stock,(or even water with a stock cube or two) bring to the boil and simmer for until everything is tender.
  • Finely chop the parsley leaves that you kept and chuck them in the soup: cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add around 200 ml of natural yoghurt, cream or milk.
  • Use a stick blender (carefully!) until smooth 
  • Add a twist or so of black pepper and a little salt.
  • Don’t let the soup boil – this can curdle it.

About Parsley