Daily News - Monday 5 January 2015

Posted 5 January 2015 5:50am

NDIS funding: Cry of blackmail at move to slash welfare
Rachel Browne, The Sydney Morning Herald

When a teary Julia Gillard introduced legislation to fund the cost of the national disability insurance scheme in 2013, it was hailed as a great example of bipartisanship, warmly embraced by all sides of politics and the public.

Over the past 18 months, the tone has deteriorated amid speculation about cost blowouts, inadequate care plans for trial participants and qualifications of disability carers.

Freshly minted Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison's pre-Christmas announcement that welfare spending would have to be slashed to fund the insurance scheme, did nothing to assuage concerns.


New disability pension laws divide Canberra GPs and advocates
Ben Westcott, The Canberra Times

ACT disability groups and general practitioners have split over new government reforms designed to reduce the number of people claiming the disability pension.

From January 1, people with disabilities who want to claim the disability support pension will need to visit a Commonwealth-appointed doctor to prove they are eligible

Advocacy for Inclusion general manager Christina Ryan said the vast majority of people on the support pension were people who seriously needed it and to imply otherwise was marginalising.

She said it would affect people with disabilities who were attempting to find a job.


Dying man John Grayson ineligible for pension, must job hunt on Newstart
Matthew Kelly, Newcastle Herald

John Grayson doesn’t want to waste the last two years of his life filling out forms at Centrelink.

The 33-year-old’s worst fears were confirmed on Christmas Eve when he received news that he had a rare stage 3 malignant brain tumour.

Prior to his initial diagnosis in November, finding a full-time engineering job had been at the top of his priority list.

His priorities have changed dramatically since, but it seems as far as federal government bureaucrats are concerned he still needs to look for work if he wants to receive the Newstart allowance.


Welfare recipients should be forced to take birth control, says ex-Labor MP
Shalailah Medhora, The Guardian

A former Labor MP has been slammed for suggesting people should only receive welfare payments if they are on forced contraception.

Welfare organisations said Gary Johns’ suggestion was draconian and ill-informed.

Johns lost his seat 1996 and has distanced himself from the Labor party since then. He penned an opinion piece in the Australian on Tuesday saying taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for other people’s decision to have children.


Trying to impose blanket control on who can have children is abhorrent
Jane Fynes-Clinton, The Courier Mail

Former federal minister Gary Johns stirred a hornet’s nest when he suggested those who receive social security benefits should not be allowed to breed.

Most of the buzz that ensued indicated he had uttered an uncomfortable truth and that women, ill-equipped to raise a child, hold a job and run their life without a handout, should not be able to earn a living from having babies.

Distilled, the idea might even appear sensible, at least to those who control the public purse strings, but it presumes that all those receiving welfare payments do so by choice.


The child in child welfare seems to have disappeared
Angela Shanahan, The Australian

Over the Christmas period there have been some very distressing reports about women with children succumbing to ­despair and madness. The worst was the mother in Cairns who allegedly killed eight children. Another was reported on New Year’s Eve. A woman was taken into custody after allegedly attempting to burn down a house containing two children. She has already been charged with covering up the death of an infant.

These events are the ultimate outcome of the chaos of lives the average Australian cannot comprehend. The despair and madness that would drive a woman to kill her children cannot really be understood in the pat terms of social theory. It happens in all social strata. Call it what you will, a Medea complex or whatever, the fact is these terrible acts have their origins deep in women’s psyches; this finds expression in all cultures.


Welfare-to-work programs have failed to reduce unemployment, says report
Shalailah Medhora, The Guardian

Welfare-to-work programs promoted by successive governments have had no impact on unemployment as they fail to take into account the changing labour market, researchers have found.

The Australian National University (ANU) research, reported in the Australian on Friday, shows that the proportion of unemployed men aged between 25 and 54 has not changed in almost 15 years, staying at 9-10%.

Professor Peter McDonald from the ANU’s Crawford school of public policy told ABC radio blue-collar jobs were disappearing.


Busting myths about baby boomer burdens
Kaye Fallick, The Age

My mum Betty is frail. She needs to use a walking frame to get from her bed to her bathroom, a few short metres away. She is 87 and now resides in an aged care facility in Croydon where she depends on the physical and practical support of myriad health care and nursing personnel. But she is not a net drain on the federal budget or the economy. At 87 she remains a strong contributor, one among many such older Australians.

It's high time we reframed our perceptions and prejudices about our older citizens and recognised how very much they have given – and continue to give – to our society. Here are just three myth busters worth considering when you next hear a federal government minister tell you the "age of entitlement" is over and older Australians need to pay up.


Homelessness a year-round issue
Editorial, The Age

Quite separate from the frenetic consumerism that characterises the Christmas season, it is also a time of year that inspires heart-warming acts of charity and kindness. Hundreds of volunteers – from celebrity chefs cooking meals for people in need, to teenagers tootling on horns trying to entice passers-by to drop a few coins into Salvation Army collection tins – gave up their time and energy to help those less fortunate than themselves. Now that another Christmas has passed, for many people it's time to get serious about summer holidays, or perhaps return to work after a brief respite. But for the more than 105,000 homeless Australians the start of 2015 is simply a continuation of the struggle to survive on the streets.


Homeless camp reminder of what's bad about Melbourne
Aisha Dow, The Age

It is a location that should be best known as the landing place of Melbourne's first European settlers; today it is the site of a homeless camp and a memorial for rough sleeper Morgan Wayne "Mouse" Perry who was killed there exactly a year ago.

Despite declarations that Mr Perry's death would spur the people of Melbourne to address the homelessness within their ranks, numbers of rough sleepers at the place he was killed have increased during the past year and Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle said there have been repeat outbreaks of violence.


Homelessness increasing in Melbourne; family violence and expensive housing to blame
Aisha Dow, The Age

On January 5 this year homeless man Morgan Wayne "Mouse" Perry was fatally stabbed in the heart of the world's most liveable city. By shining a light on the dangerous living conditions experienced by Melbourne's most-vulnerable people, the 42-year-old's death prompted calls for change. But almost a year later, is life better or worse for the city's rough sleepers?


Scotland and Ireland tackle homelessness in very different ways – here are the results
Beth Watts, The Conversation

Housing tends to be seen as a human right, but here’s something to make you pause this winter: very few countries give homeless people any entitlement to emergency shelter. Scotland goes further and gives virtually every homeless person a legal right to settled accommodation via their local authority.

What difference do these legal rights make in practice, though, and are homeless people’s experiences in Scotland actually better than elsewhere? In particular, do rights really empower those who are homeless in the way their advocates claim? These are some of the questions I’ve been exploring in my research by trying to unpack exactly what empowerment means in relation to homeless people and by comparing two very different policy approaches in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.


Leading NSW welfare worker to advise Pope on child protection
Emily Laurence, ABC (19 December 2014)

A leading New South Wales welfare worker will advise Pope Francis on safeguarding children from sexual abuse.

The founding director of CatholicCare in the city of Wollongong, Kathleen McCormack, has been appointed to the Vatican's child protection commission.


NSW - New Labor Party leader Luke Foley: How my single mum taught me ‘Labor values’
Alicia Wood, The Sunday Telegraph

Luke Foley — a devoted Catholic who quotes papal encyclicals in Parliament, a cricket tragic and a bullish Upper House questioner — might seem an unlikely candidate for the Labor leadership.

But as Mr Foley, 44, prepares to be elected unopposed as NSW Opposition leader tomorrow, those who know him best say he has been a natural leader his whole life.


Stand-off over ‘ransom’ letter
Jackson Stiles, The New Daily

On his last day in office, former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison threatened to strip an entire Melbourne local council of its power to confer Australian citizenship in retaliation for defying his “prerogative”.

In a letter addressed to the mayor, Mr Morrison demanded that she stop refusing to read a ministerial welcome message to new citizens — an act of protest a legal expert has described as politically motivated but lawful.

The letter, which Moreland City Council mayor Meghan Hopper likened to a “ransom note”, set a deadline of January 20, six days before the town’s Australia Day ceremony, for her to comply.


PM should make a play from mentor’s rulebook
Daniel Flitton, The Age

After the reshuffle, quite a few people I know in foreign policy circles asked why Scott Morrison wasn't rewarded for his command of border protection with a promotion to the wider Defence portfolio. But this misunderstands the political need.

Abbott has plugged a weakness (advocating welfare reforms) with a perceived strength (Morrison), and dropped a tepid performer (Kevin Andrews) into an arena where the government is typically viewed to be successful (national security).


Reconciling faith with political power
Tim Costello, The Age

Julian Burnside is puzzled by Scott Morrison's faith. Burnside examines Morrison's maiden speech to Parliament, in which he stated that his values come from his faith in Jesus, and concludes that Morrison is a hypocrite (Comment, 23/12). Others, including myself, are puzzled that the most Catholic Coalition Cabinet in Australia's history can be so cruel in slashing our aid program – the lowest in our history. Australia is the fourth richest nation but will slip to 19th position in the generosity stakes in the 2016/17 financial year.

... Burnside is right to be puzzled as Christian teaching is clear. Christians believe the resurrection of Jesus brings not only forgiveness of sins but also liberation for the down-trodden and God's promised justice for the poor and oppressed. Pope Francis has further attacked "savage capitalism" that allows inequality to grow; with profits flowing to the richest and the poor are abandoned. Why are Catholics in office deaf to their Christian obligations when they smash government aid – one of the key levers to tackling hunger and poverty?


The psychology of the super rich
John Kampfner, Australian Financial Review

The most persuasive voice for change now emerged in 2013 with Pope Francis’s encyclicals about poverty and “unbridled capitalism”. In a message to the rich and powerful attending the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, he urged: “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.”

His has become a powerful moral voice for change, but the more rational arguments for greater distribution of wealth fail to gain traction. Politicians have displayed little desire, or courage, to ask the important questions, even less so now as the West emerges tentatively out of recession.


Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches
John Vidal, The Guardian

He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.


Pope Francis Has Declared War on Climate Deniers
Rebecca Leber, The New Republic

The only group Francis has offended are climate-change deniers—notably Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who is in charge of the Vatican's budget. He argued in a 2011 speech that CO2 is "not a pollutant, but part of the stuff of life." Pell claimed, "Animals would not notice a doubling of CO2 and obviously plants would love it."

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