The adjective bipartisan can refer to any bill, act, resolution, or other political act in which both of the two major political parties agree about all or many parts of a political choice. Bipartisanship involves trying to find common ground, but there is debate whether the issues needing common ground are peripheral or central ones. Often, compromises are called bipartisan if they reconcile the desires of both parties from an original version of legislation or other proposal. Failure to attain bipartisan support in such a system can easily lead to gridlock, often angering each other and their constituencies.
Under a Bipartisan approach, in Australia’s two-party system where both parties are ideologically opposed, we have the socially and economically conservative Liberal/Coalition parties and opposed to them is the egalitarian approach of the Australian Labor party who can both agree on the need for the NDIS, however, they are both ideologically opposed, in how to get there.
There seems to be a very cruel and dis-compassionate feeling between both sides of the parliaments of this polity. While they may claim that their fundamental approach may be bipartisan, when we look at what they say in terms of a cost-benefit analysis we will see that this could not be further from the truth.
The Liberal coalition government has now underspent $4.6 billion on the NDIS over a 4-year period. The opposition and many in the disability sector say this is ineffective and is only done to prop up the budget bottom line. The government is claiming there has been confusion in demand with state and territories being at the forefront of the problem. There has also been a capping on employment in the NDIS, which has in turn created a slow roll out of plans and processes involved. How can the Liberal/Coalition government short-change people with disabilities? They should never be noted as an economic policy one that can be used to prop up the budget bottom line.
All this can only add further credibility to my previous comment on this blog: “How low can ScoMo go?”
The Difference between welfare policies and insurance schemes
The insurance scheme is an effective principle that provides choice and control among other benefits for people with disabilities registered on the NDIS. The insurance scheme is covered through premiums to the Medicare levy. And so, we can all share the cost of being disabled, as this is something that can affect anybody at any time.
The insurance scheme approach to supporting people is different. Built into its approach is a prudential insurance governance cycle which deals with a set of forecasts of what the NDIS will cost. For this, data has to be collected to validate or change those forecasts. It is able to provide for insurance instead of welfare. That is, it looks to enhance opportunities instead of looking solely and abstractly at the first-hand obvious needs.
The Insurance scheme model of NDIS seeks to counter the weaknesses discovered in the welfare model. We have pointed out that with the latter scheme, due to its short-term blatantly utilitarian and short-term one annual budget to the next “bottom-line” outlook, many welfare recipients continue to be stereotyped, lumped together in order to be “managed”.
The NDIS, on the other hand, is structured on the insurance model. This is to ensure social programs are met and empowerment is encouraged over the longer-term. This is quite different from the welfare provision model, and in opposition to its short-term needs-based structure.
Presently, there is more data on people with disabilities, so those needing assistance as well as public policy analysts in Government and NDIS should be better able to assess their true needs. And so, they will be able to demonstrate the most effective supports for them and will be able to assess if the outcomes differ from expectations that arise from those providing the services. They can then make changes accordingly. Insurance schemes are data-driven processes. This means that over time it should lead to better, more cost-effective outcomes for people with disabilities and their families.
Welfare schemes aim to minimise costs over very short periods of time whereas insurance schemes minimise costs and maximise opportunities over a person’s lifetime and are more aligned to their individual needs. Therefore, NDIS was set up to reap better outcomes as they invest in independence and participation of individuals and the nurturing relationships of their families and loved ones. It also holds out the prospect of the nurturing of these vital relationships by all involved.
In addition to being data driven the insurance scheme approach also makes provision for investment in research. Accident compensation schemes have been extensively researched. Insurance companies have been important sources of social change since such schemes give the wider community the opportunity to pool their money towards the longer-term amelioration of the lifestyle of people with disabilities. And so, this will ultimately lead to greater social outcomes and it is also hoped that this too will include a reduction in attitudes based on stereotypes.
Is it this that we can say is a bipartisan approach among those making vital legislation for the NDIS? We do hope so.
I talk about social issues and disability in my book, 6 and a ½ Years on a Dunghill: Life in Specialist Disability Accommodation.
You can also order directly from me.
Many thanks to my friend and colleague Bruce Wearne, who has inspired me greatly in all my work and who has been my prolific ghost writer, my gratitude also extends to my phenomenal team of academic support workers. Firstly, team leader whose brilliance and courteous behavior has been a surmountable addition to my work, and additionally taking on the role as a ghost writer as well, Christina Irugalbandara whose work means so much to me. Daniella De Bruin whose brilliant and caring nature means so much to me. Also, Ikemi Ivara whose ability to command and control the situation with kindness. Lastly but definitely not least, Mercy Ndegwa who’s continually teaching me how to be a better person.