Is Tony Abbot a fool or a tool? Because it’s one or the other.

Tony Abbot has a scheme to make life harder for people with disabilities.

Perhaps Mr Abbot would care to try living on disability pension?

For his information, disability pensioners have actual medical conditions which are, you know, like, disabling? Those I know on benefits spend most of their time going back and forth between doctors, hospital clinics and the like for treatments, and spend most of their money on necessities including medication. And they have only gone onto the benefit with extreme reluctance, preferring to hold down at least a part-time job while they still could manage it – sometimes even beyond when they could reasonably be expected to manage.

It is already hard enough for a well person to navigate the heartless Centrelink beaurocracy; why make the lives of people who have disabling medical conditions even harder?

(And I haven’t even started in on the idiocy of making it harder for people to access unemployment benefits in the middle of a Global Financial Crisis).

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9 Responses to “Is Tony Abbot a fool or a tool? Because it’s one or the other.”


  1. 1 bri Wednesday, 24 February 2010 at 4:25 pm

    He has no idea. His comment the other day about people choosing to be homeless said it all. He obviously doesn’t even know how homeless is defined in the sector that works with homeless people. There are levels of homelessness, ‘couch surfing’ is considered homeless just as much as ‘sleeping rough’ is. When I read about the Disability Pension revamp I wondered if he really has any idea how hard it is to get a Disability Pension in the first place? Every person I know who has got on one has had to fight tooth and nail to get it and be able to stay on it. My Dad couldn’t wait until the day he was able to move from a Disability Pension to the Aged Pension just so he didnt have to jump through hoops all the time, and this is a man who did hard physical labour for 40 + years, has had back surgery, heart surgery etc etc and is in constant pain. The whole thing is ridiculous.

    • 2 Kerri Thursday, 25 February 2010 at 4:22 pm

      I consider Tony Abbott to be foolish in his willingness to be one of the tools used to disseminate and consolidate economic policies of the far right; neoclassical economics in effect. In Australia, up until a few years ago, we knew and heard about these policies and the theories behind them, described as being, for example, ‘economic rationalist’ in outlook. That is, we identified in the national discourse that these theories differed from what had come before.

      We no longer distinguish or hear of this term in the mainstream Australian media primarily because these theories, and the values embedded in them, have become normative ones to a very great degree. Furthermore, these values now permeate far beyond the economic realm to impact upon the formation of social policy as well – including welfare policy. For the record, I use the term ‘welfare’ in its positive sense and not in its current derogatory (neoclassical) sense.

      Individualism, the notion that we are atomistic units operating apart and distinct from our fellows, and always for self-serving reasons too, is one of these theoretical values that have impinged upon the wider society. Anyone here, other than me, old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher’s infamous declaration “There is no such thing as society”? That was a declaration of Individualism writ large as being the driver of economic, and ultimately social, policy. That is, she and many others believe(d) that we have no societal, shared responsibility for the welfare of others, including those with ability and disability, because we do not form community but just bump around like random units – transacting. We do not interact, we transact. I do not accept the views outlined above in the Thatcher example. Tony Abbott’s proposed disability policy is just another manifestation of these same economic theories. In his proposals can be seen how economic values have ‘escaped’ into, and become a part of, the value system of society overall, and now shapes social policy.

      Quite often, even social policy will be assessed by using economic measures – because it has become the norm to view the economic impetus as the primary one. Look at Abbott’s stated reasons, his rationale, for his proposed disability policy. Implicit in his rationale is the notion that above all else the economic imperative is the primary one, more important than how people with disabilities will endure increased hardship in accessing affordable health care and living lives with dignity as a consequence of his policy. Further implicit within his policy proposal is that we must all ‘compete’ as individuals, for jobs that are scarce, and that there are enough jobs for all, if only we, including those with disabilities, got off our fat arses and sought them.

      Actually, there are far more unemployed within Australia than there are job vacancies (see Australian Bureau of Statistics – anytime. It will always be the case that there are fewer available jobs than there are people seeking them), and given that we now compete in a labour ‘market’, the notion that we all ‘compete’ on an equal playing field and face no discrimination is just not the reality experienced by many people with disability. Perhaps we should question the assumption also, about the desirability of a system in which we must compete for our livelihoods? We uphold the system for the elite few and in exchange we are entitled to a job within this system without having to trample on each other to have it.

      I will say too, that if we (here in Australia) wish to continue to provide our own health and social welfare services in a collective manner – there for all regardless of ability to pay – we perhaps should look again at the now accepted (neoclassical, individualistic) wisdom of forever seeking to lower taxes. In the never-ending quest to lower taxes further we are transferring the power of our elected government (i.e. our public, social power as a people,) away from ourselves as a collective and handing it to the private sector where access is dependent on ability to pay rather than meeting a criterion of need. We make it harder for ourselves to live lives of quiet dignity if we continue to shift away from collective provision, funded by us all, towards private sector provision of services essential to life. I do not want to rely on my ability to pay in order to ensure access to health care if needed. If I have a disability, I do not want to rely for my livelihood on the decision of a potential employer not to discriminate against me.

      Tony Abbott does not appear to be a fool in my opinion, he long ago propounded the same ideology derived from the same dead-end theories as he does now and it seems to work for him within the electorate. But a tool? Yes! Yes I think so! In many, many ways, yes.

  2. 3 Cleric at Large Wednesday, 24 February 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Does a disability pension provide a living wage where you are? The free lunch I go to every Saturday is full of folks on disability pension, who have to choose between paying for food or paying for shelter… and who have to deal with asshats claiming that if they are well enough to walk all over town (because the bus fare was a lower priority than lunch) they are well enough to work.

    • 4 Fatadelic Thursday, 25 February 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Depends what you define as “living”. It’s a better situation in Australia than in some countries (e.g. the US), but it isn’t great. The disability pension provides subsistence assistance; just enough to scrape by on, if you are lucky. No disposable income. No quality of life. Nothing but bills, food and medical expenses. This is particularly so in Sydney, where “affordable housing” is a distant memory, and public assistance has not kept up with need.

  3. 5 Fatadelic Thursday, 25 February 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Kerri, great analysis. The economic arguments, in my opinion, are masks for moral judgments. That people should pull themselves up by the boot straps, and if they haven’t (or can’t) do that, they are just not trying hard enough. The Calvinistic attitude that the sick wouldn’t be sick unless they had done something to deserve it permeates the policy, as does the idea that all you have to do to get a job is try a little harder.

  4. 6 Anna Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 10:18 am

    Hate Tony Abbot. Hate hate hate hate. I swear he just wants to make life more difficult for everyone who’s not white and male. Bastard.

  5. 7 Disabled by Centrelink Sunday, 3 April 2011 at 8:36 am

    Tony Abbot certainly is a fool, and his own party too stupid to see it. Labor was elected to fix all of Howard’s Centrelink and Workplace reforms, but instead have only reinforced them.

    Centrelink is corrupt, I am still dealing with the stress and grief that situation has caused me. Despite my pleas to higher authorities to step in and stop what was being done to me, they allowed it to continue unabated.

    My disability employment agency rigged the results of my job capacity assessment when I applied for DSP. I complained to Centrelink, DEEWR, the Ombudsman and several ministers. They wanted me on the dole, despite the disc disease, slipped disks and RSI I was suffering from, so they could continue to claim payment for trying ‘to assist me back into the workforce’, even though there was no work available for me other than cleaning jobs.

    No one cared. No one investigated. No one stopped them from loosing and falsifying my medical information. The appeals process made findings which supported the corruption, to weaken my case against the disability employment agency. I lost my rental property, and had to send my children to live with other people. It was hard enough trying to look after myself during that period after being re-injured while trying to work to support us, let alone two teenagers. To have Centrelink pile a heap of stress, corruption and harrassment on to that, almost drove me to a nervous breakdown.

    Freedom of Information in Australia? See how far you get with applications if they have something to hide. They will fail to act on requests, and if you do keep hassling long enough to get the information, you will find it is all lies, game playing, deceipt and all about supporting the job providers rights to get rich, while shitting on the unemployed and sick.

  6. 8 bron Sunday, 14 August 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Is he a fool or a tool? Or are you, as a tool, a fool? It’s all a matter of opinion isn’t it? Centrelink tells us that plenty of people are prosecuted for making false claims of disability, so claiming to be disabled doesn’t always mean that a person is, you know, like .. disabled.

    Agenda groups always have a bias, and reading biased twaddle from an agenda group about their agenda may be amusing, sometimes interesting (but not today), but at the end of the day .. reading biased twaddle is just expending time you’ll never get back.

    Is Tony Abbot a fool or a tool? I don’t think so.

    • 9 Fatadelic Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 12:35 am

      Nor does claiming disability automatically make one a faker. Centrelink already makes life hard for people with legitimate disabilities in the name of catching out so-called fakers. Any party’s policy on disability needs to take this into account. An independant report found that disability services are woefully underfunded (Howard’s legacy) and the government is having to play catch up over the next 5 years. This does not support your claim of needing to crack down on fakers.

      I’d probably take you more seriously if your twaddle about biased twaddle wasn’t ignorant (and biased) twaddle.


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