Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for May 2013



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The National Disability Scheme (NDIS) is now Disability Care: I hope you never need it

I received the following article by e-mail from a person – not its author, whom I do not know. The article’s title is mine not the author’s, so that in the words “I hope you never need it” I am expressing a personal hope that no reader of the article nor any member of their family ever becomes so disabled that they need care to help them live life to the fullest.

Disabled myself and having been involved in the disability field for many years I am publishing the article to help raise awareness of the need for governments to take a long term view of the problem of disability. Disability Care is a step in the right direction.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme which we are all paying for is going before Parliament at present. I was listening to a panel discussion last Friday and was curious as to why the CEO of Disability Services Australia was less than enthusiastic about the Scheme in its present form. It was pointed out that anyone 65 years or older would not be covered by the scheme, the reason being it would make the scheme cost prohibitive (given an aging population, etc.).

If you have a disability at the time you reach 65 years of age you will be covered for the benefits of the scheme when you pass age 65. If you become disabled at age 65 or over you will not be covered and there is no other safety net scheme to provide support and services other than present State and private Health Insurance products/services.

The Disability Services representative on the panel pointed out that a large number of disability cases in the community affect elderly people who by misfortune have a stroke leading to partial or greater permanent disability, folk with bone degenerative disease, osteoporosis etc, other degenerative disease- Dementia, Parkinson’s and the like, plus serious accidental- broken hips, etc. From age 65 and older none of these people are covered and as was pointed out the impact of this exclusion would include large numbers of baby boomers, parents and grandparents of the current 25-40 year olds. I have not heard one mention of this exclusion from any of the Politicians from both sides. What was mentioned from a legal participant in last Friday’s panel discussion was that the Federal Government tinkered carefully with the title of NDIS, so as to have a loop hole against future litigation for discriminating against a section of the Australian population with a Nationally funded program. Apparently the trick is in the use of the word “Insurance” in the scheme.

From a Western Australian perspective, I can also understand Colin Barnett’s reticence to sign up to the scheme. Our current state run disability scheme offers more comprehensive and superior services to that of the services proposed by the NDIS and there are no age exclusions. It was pointed out that with the present proposal if we are part of the NDIS our level of services will decrease.

My own view is that while the concept of an NDIS is laudable, I question why in main younger 30-40 year olds are paying an increased Medicare levy to fund a scheme that would not cover their parents and elderly dear ones, in the event of disability. In the age 30 to 40 group young people are career focussed, have a lot of cost in their lives, getting established with a house, raising young children etc, so the scheme should be funded from consolidated revenue and not yet another levy.

They also mentioned in the panel discussion that around 1000 Commonwealth Public Service FTE’s would be required to administer the Scheme from Canberra. Again I have great concern about the efficiency of this, given the Federal Government’s track record with the Home Insulation Program, Better Schools Program, management of Australian border protection and the like.

If you feel inclined please forward this email on so at least there will be a better awareness of the pitfalls and oversights in the hurried put together of the NDIS- in that way we can get it changed to cover all the Australian population. Thank you.”

Comment welcome.

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 Is Technology destroying democracy?

The caption may be a slight exaggeration of the present state of state of affairs but, like it or not, the day is looming when if we want to find out what our local parliamentary representative is doing on our behalf we’ll have to check on his /her twitter site to find out. Additionally, if we want to get a message to our representative we have to send it to their parliamentary twitter or e-mail site.

You may disagree with me but, websites aside, there’s no doubt that Twitter is now taking a major role in the parliamentary communication process to the extent that constituents will need to go to a Government’s Twitter site to see any tweets announcing where and when Cabinet will be in attendance to talk to the community.

Sounds very democratic, doesn’t it? But midst the Government’s use of Twitter, what attention does it pay as to how older people without access to Twitter who, even if provided with the technology that would give them access, either through reading and hearing about it had, nonetheless, become anti Twitter or wouldn’t know how to use it. The result: instead of Twitter enhancing their lives they have become prisoners in a society dominated by technology and worse, make their lives and possibly democracy, deteriorate.

Not that all older people are in the same boat. Some can afford the technology that gives access to Twitter and e-mail and can also afford to pay for the advice on how to use it. Unfortunately in Canberra, whose aged population grows by the day, many older people without the necessary financial means find themselves in difficulty.

And so they look for information to guide them. Coming from a generation that relied on the local telephone directory for that purpose they turn to the directory again. Like the phone the directory and information system has changed also. Indeed when they call the information number they face a barrage of instructions that says they can get all the information they need by logging on to: or, if they hang on they will (eventually) be answered by a human asking: how can I help.

The next stage can be more confusing than helpful because they have to answer questions by pressing numbers on the phone’s keypad. This also makes them even more confused and so they discontinue the call.

This is not an imaginary situation. I have tried to explain the system to my wife – who has a memory problem common to people of her age – and is also intelligent. But intelligent as she is and as hard as she tries, unless she gets an answer immediately, she will discontinue and try again – and again. She also becomes stressed.

Many older people in Canberra are in the same age bracket as my wife but without her problem. Like her, many have not as yet adjusted to the age of technology nor, I suspect will they adjust. And the same thing applies to older people in the rest of Australia and to communities in many other parts of the world.

It seems to me that on a universal basis, it behoves governments to make sure that older people do not get left behind as younger people rush to take up the latest piece of technology. That apart,  who knows how long Twitter and e-mail will last?

Finally the young should remember that without the efforts of these older people they might not be enjoying the technology they currently use. And Governments should do the same.

Comment welcome.

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Who is an ordinary man or woman?

Much as I would like to be able to say otherwise, I am not a polymath. Truth be known, my school record was more poly than math, a condition that has remained constant during the years since leaving my schooldays behind and finding myself sitting here at the keyboard scratching my head in the hope that it will it will inspire the words needed for a new blog.

It’s not that I haven’t got the words. I have but they are all stored away in my mind in a jumble that takes a long time to unscramble. If you haven’t got this problem, count yourself lucky. And if you believe in the power of prayer I suggest you keep on the good side of the mechanic looking after the system that produces the power.

But let me add one qualification: make sure the mechanic is good at unscrambling problems, as it would be no good if in sending you an answer if it turned out to be problem that still needed answering which is what happened to me when watching Professor Ian Lowe AO, President of the Australian Conservation Foundation who has a plethora of academic qualifications, give an address at Australia’s National Press Club, Canberra, today.

Credit where it’s due: his address to the assembled throng while not stirring was eloquent. In his address he laid out the problems, as he saw them, of the problems the world was facing if his words weren’t taken seriously. Unfortunately journalists in attendance were few in number although their absence was more than made up for by conservationists.

I shall not take up your time by laying out the subjects about which Professor Lowe waxed eloquent. If you’re interested in them and you’ve got access to the internet just log on to Google and you’ll see them. Fortunately, during question time at the end of the Professor’s speech a well – known journalist asked the Professor a question which he acknowledged with smile and a suggestion that no doubt the journalist thought some of his ideas cuckoo.

Depending on your point of view about global warming and various other concerns voiced by the Professor that he labelled the GEC (Global Environmental Collapse) you might agree with the journalist. But disagree or not with the Professor, I can see the GEC phrase being worked to death by environmentalists as they paint the picture of damage allegedly done to the environment by people whose views they oppose.

Environment apart, why is that people prominent in academia, business, the bureaucracy and politics have adopted the word “ordinary” to describe most of the community. Doing so, and whether intentional or not, suggests they see themselves as people who are extra ordinary and whose views the community should accept before all others.

Without wishing to plagiarise Professor Lowe and his use of cuckoo, I’d like to suggest that when the people I’ve mentioned in the last paragraph use the word ordinary they be met with the call of the “Laughing Kookaburra.“ You can use the vernacular name if you wish.

Comment welcome.

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What determines happiness?

In case you didn’t know it but a country’s happiness is measured by the strength of its economy. How do I know? I only know because the BBC news website revealed today that in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Australia came first because of its economy. Does this mean that all Australians should all stand up and give three cheers for Australian treasurer Wayne Swan? If so, here’s my contribution: Hip- hip hooray; Hip-hip hooray; Hip- hip hooray.

You’ll be pleased to know the other nine nations in the top ten happiest nations are, in order of merit: Sweden, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Denmark, The Netherlands, Iceland and the United Kingdom.

Now I’m not in a position to argue with OECD assessment of Australia’s economy or indeed from that assessment conclude that Australia’ is the happiest country in the OECD. I wouldn’t want their experts thinking that I might doubt their assessment because as I analyse the economy that dictates my life style I have to say it is anything but conducive to happiness; suicide, perhaps, but happiness – definitely not.

But just in case I was being unjust to the OECD experts I telephoned half a dozen people I know with the good news. As only two people answered I came to the conclusion the others were so shocked by the report that they had taken to their beds to save turning on their already minimum source of heating earlier than ever.

By the way I forgot to mention that it’s winter in Canberra and temperatures often drop from low to freezing and below so, if you’re a member of Canberra’s low socio economic bloc, you’re already behind the eight ball when it comes to keeping warm never mind happy.

Unlike the latter, people who are members of the same political party as Wayne Swan will also jump on the report and verbally pat the Treasurer of the back complimenting him on doing a good job. I have to say that even if the report had put Australia at the bottom of the list they would still be patting his back because with an election imminent, this is good news.

It could well be true also, that Australia is the OECD’s happiest country, but what the experts seem to forget is that not only does it take more than a good economy to make a country happy it also takes more than a good economy to make individuals happy.

So what are the constituent parts of the OECD report? Do the experts go out and ask residents in cities, towns and villages if they are happy and why or, do they rely on surveys and reports prepared by fellow experts in sociology et al. that go into making people happy?

What the OECD does not seem to realise is that a country needs more than a good economy to create happiness. And while Australia’s current mining boom may cause happiness, booms can rapidly become busts.

Indeed iron ore mines are already in operation in Brazil while African countries which have vast reserves of iron ore and other valuable minerals are opening mines at breakneck speed to take advantage of the demand currently being met by Australia.

When that happens I wonder what position Australia will command in the OECD’s “Better Life Index?”

Comment welcome.

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Politics and public art

Yesterday’s blog posed the question “What is Public Art?” It also said it was being claimed that the multi mammaried Skywhale balloon, launched in Canberra a week or so ago as part of Canberra’s Centenary, was being claimed as a piece of public art.

Unfortunately, calling something a piece of public art is a device commonly used by Government politicians as a means of covering up how they had been deluded into thinking the artwork they originally commissioned that would be part of their legacy that would to remind communities in the future about their time in office would, in the case of Skywhale something they might regret. Instead it might make the community perceive them as art philistines.

Contrary to any impression you might have gained yesterday that while Canberra has some public art, the arts lobby thinks it doesn’t have enough. Indeed the arts lobby constantly lobbies the ACT Government to provide more public art and because the government is always looking for of methods to capture votes it is susceptible to the pleas of the arts community. The result: Government Ministers see commissioning more public art as a means of garnering votes. A secondary result, the art community is kept in a state of permanent anticipation, the community in a permanent state of apprehension and tourists something new to look and laugh at.

But let me leave such whimsical thoughts behind and get down to brass tacks about public art. I think the ACT Government should ask the public at large what pieces of art they would like to see commissioned. And when I say the public at large I mean the public at large not just the views of a handful of members of the ACT’s political parties and art groups. In my opinion the Government might get a shock at some of the artworks the community at large might like to see commissioned.

The Government’s answer to the public’s suggestions would probably be that twenty years later the public might not like what was chosen while the public’s argument that the same could be said about the Government’s choices would be met with a blank stare, which brings me back to Skywhale.

I fact when I first heard about Skywhale I thought the Government had decided that in addition to being the Australia’s political Capital it should also be the country’s avant garde Capital. With that in mind and as a member of the public, let me put forward a suggestion for a piece of public art that will pay tribute to the Capital not only on this centenary but on centenaries ever after.

I’d like government to commission a work called “Parliament in Action” comprising a revolving metal base on which stands one male figure and one female figure representing the bureaucracy. The male figure would have its left arm outstretched and one finger pointing and the female figure would be posed with right arm outstretched and finger pointing. Surrounding the base, concrete Members of Parliament sit in static pose looking up at the two figures as if trying to give them directions.

As this is a free speech site don’t be afraid to voice your opinion about the blog but at the same time give your suggestions about what would be great public art in Canberra.

Comment welcome.

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What is Public Art?

Just as the saying goes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder the same thing could be said about art – public or private.

But first let me digress before talking about art. I know there are such things as flying fishes because I’ve seen them. However, if you believed every angler’s story about the one that got away you might be inclined to think the fish had given wing just to escape the fate of ending up first on a cold slab of stone before landing in a hot frying pan with hot chips for company.

They might also have wanted to avoid being transferred from the frying pan to a warm plate with hot chips still for company to be cut into smaller pieces before being consumed with the hot chips in a delicate but ritualistic orgy of eating.

Warm plate aside it might have wanted to avoid the ignominy of being wrapped in greaseproof paper along with hot chips to, be dusted with salt and doused with a liberal lashing of vinegar before suffering a less than delicate ritual mastication sans knife and fork.

Whales as everyone knows are not fish but mammals although they have something in common: they both live in water. But one thing they do not have in common, although perhaps my education in this regard has been defective, is that there are no flying whales. Yet last week, a many mammaried representation of a whale called Skywhale, in the shape of a balloon flew around the skies of Canberra, Australia’s National Capital. This now brings me to the question: what is public art?

As you can imagine, Skywhale immediately became the stuff of legend and in time, no doubt will become the subject of a suitably titled film eg: Terror Strikes Whale Capital. In truth the flying whale was a contribution to Canberra’s Centenary as a piece of Public Art which leads me to ask: which city other than Canberra could come up with such a brilliant idea.

Like every brilliant idea of course, the ferociously expensive Skywhale was hated or liked by many in the community with the former saying the money it cost could, and should, have been spent on something that would have brought lasting benefit to the community. And though Skywhale has gained some fame I suspect it will be fleeting because the only place that Canberrans are likely to see it is on the net which, in turn, raises the question: can it rightly be called Public Art?

The fact is, Canberra has a lot of Public Art even if some of it is not seen as things of beauty and a joy forever. Tourists often comment on it. Indeed it was hope that Skywhale would boost tourism numbers but if visitors will only be able to see it on the net they are unlikely to come to stand and peer patiently at the sky in hope of seeing the much mamarried cetacean balloon make an appearance.

That apart, tourists usually like to get up close and personal to attractions Of course, even if Skywhale does nothing for Canberra’s tourism industry it might well benefit the whale watching industry on the South Coast which gives substance to the old adage: it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.


But let me end on as positive note as I can for Canberra. I hope Skywhale’s fame is neither  fleeting nor made Canberra a laughing stock around the world and also created the situation that tourists will take a view that it is a city not worth visiting.

Comment welcome.

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Speak up for Free Speech

I’m thinking of changing the name of the blog from Allan Takes Aim to the title of this note.

The idea of the blog was to give the community at large a platform so that they raise their voices and let everyone know what they were thinking about not just what newspaper editors or producers in the electronic media thought worth making public.

Unfortunately, what has happened is that has become an avenue for free advertising not the free speech platform I hoped for.

Where are the people who in private voice their disagrement about what is being done to them in the name of democracy? Is their disagreement a sham and are they afraid to make it known publicly because it might affect their career, status or standing with politicians or influential political or business groups. If they are people of the latter stripe, they are people without integrity.

I am an optimist and think more of my fellow man than that they are frauds (although there may be some) who embrace causes to make themselves look good and discard them when they don’t get the status they think their support deserves.

Let me stress that contributions are not limited to articles on politics or business. Articles on every subject under the sun will be accepted and printed as received except that obvious slanderous or libellous comment will be deleted. Free speech needs no such comments.

And nor articles need be of Pulitzer Prize standard; articles need only display common sense. It will also be up to contributors if they wish to give the web site administrator the authority to make minor alterations.

Finally, the power of free speech is lessened when its author offers it on condition of anonymity, although occasionally a pseudonym will be allowed.

N.B. Articles contributed should not exceed 700 words and suggestions for a new name for the Blog will be welcomed .

Articles can be sent to:


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