It all started with John Winston Howard in 2006 when his august treasurer Peter Costello, the man with the spine made of Jelly began their attack on the disabled.
In his budget speech Costello mentioned that the disability pensioners were known for their bad backs. A veiled reference to what is known in pejorative Liberal/National circles as “Mediterranean Back”. A phrase which seeks to include the prejudice against the Italians and Greek immigrants to Australia and what is just a completely wrong characterisation of their ability to work and what the liberals would like you to believe is a trait.
When you actually look at the facts in the Disability reports over the years you find that this is a very unfair characterisation as well as completely false. The majority of people on the Disability Support pension happen to be Australian.
Be that as it may, the Liberals choose another characterisation, and that is of a group of Welfare cheats who do not deserve the support of the community.
One wonders, however where the substance of the allegation is. Where are the facts?
In actual fact they do exist and they completely refute the complete falsity of the Abbott government and his main minister Kevin Andrews. They can be found here.
You will see that the period also covered the Howard Government.
What the Liberals are in effect trying to do is DEFINE the disabled out of their entitlement to obtain welfare assistance
In 2006, before the whole of the pension was redefined to “being able to work 15 hours a week the requirement was actually 30 hous per week. So 15 hours were just cut off the definition.
Did this reduce the number of people applying for the pension? The short answer is no, mainly because people who are profoundly disabled actually can’t really work at all.
So the 2006 reforms didn’t really make a difference to the grants but they did make it harder to obtain the pension.
Flip forward to 2014 and the nasty Liberal budget measures of Kevin Andrews.
Before the accession of the liberals to power the Murdoch press and Murdoch himself tweeted that Australia was sick and tired of Welfare bludgers (my words). His main flagship the Daily telegraph in Sydney, followed up with some particularly nasty attacks on DSP’s.
So they were setting the scene for the 2014 Liberal budget.
The Liberals seem to have a particular bent against young people who are disabled. They attacked them.
As you can see they want to hone in on those disabled under 35 and over 16 (the age at which the Disability support pension starts) and who were granted it between the years 2008 and 2011.
Once again the have defined the ability to work for a period of 8 hours down from the 2006 mark of 15 hours.
Lets examine this change.
The Minimum Wage is about $16 per hour so someone capable of working for 8 hours would earn $128 a week. Hardly enough to live on.
Would they be able to find a job?
The answer to that is plainly No. For two main reasons. The Unemployment rate is at 5.8% and therefore there would not be enough jobs to cater for the newly unemployed kicked off the DSP. The other reason is that employers don’t like hiring disabled people.
So how many people are we talking about?
In the 2013 report there were the following people between 16 and 35 on a DSP.
Age group Number
16- 19 19001
20 – 24 35662
25 – 29 38298
30 – 34 44343
A total of 137304
Of these people only 4467 owned their own home, so they rely on Family and renting to sustain a roof over their head..
Of the three major categories of illness they fall under the following
Psychological difficulties = 18180
Musculo Skeletal or connective tissue = 2924
Intellectual Learning difficulties = 20815
Total for these three illnesses = 41919.
This however does not show those granted the pension in the 4 years between 2008 and 2011. It shows the Total.
In 2013 13726 Disability pensions in the Age range 16 35 were granted. Yet 16018 claims were rejected.
This to me is evidence that it is not easy to get a grant of a Disability Pension. That it is already difficult to get a grant and that it is well policed. Giving rise to the lie that it is easy to get on a pension and that many on it are bludgers and welfare cheats.
I do not see the evidence for that to be true and neither has it been presented to the public by Minister Andrews or by Rupert Murdoch.
JUST BECAUSE THEY SAY SO DOESN’T MAKE IT TRUE.
So how many people is Andrews going after? Well it looks like its about 52,000. The majority of them with Psychiatric, learning difficulties and many with Rheumatic and Arthritic conditions.
In the 2013 year 350 people were granted a Disability Pension because they had Cancer.
It is quite clear from looking at the reports prepared by government that by far the largest number of people on the Disability pension are over the Age of 50. In last years report we see 56,836 people leaving the scheme, 35231 left to go onto the aged pension and 12262 left because they died.
It is clear to me that the Disability support pension is one of the most scrutinised payments in the Welfare system. It is difficult to be granted a Pension and that presupposes to me that the people who are granted the pension actually fulfil the criteria of the word disabled and unable to work more than 15 hours per week.
So why have the liberals led by Kevin Andrews decided to attack those under 35’s who are quite clearly ill and need support.
Could it be that the liberals don’t believe in Disability? It sure looks like it.
Could it be that they don’t understand disability? It sure looks like that too.
Could it be that they are lacking compassion for the disabled? Yep that fits too.
Could it be that they are healthy and abhor the idea of illness? That also fits.
The most interesting question is “Are they Christians” The resounding answer to that is NO.
The next question must therefore be are they Nasty and ideologically driven? And the resounding answer to that is Yes they are so.
Why do people need to attack the defenceless and the oppressed? I guess only a Liberal and a National can answer that question.
What would I like?
I would like Kevin Andrews to get the type of Arthritis I have had for 33 years and to enjoy some of the excruciating pain I have endured during that time and still endure.
After all he deserves it as much as I did.