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How is the peak body for people with disabilities to be funded?

By Peter Gibilisco - posted Tuesday, 10 February 2015


According to the Liberal-National Government in Canberra, Australia is in such a bad economic position that we must question the affordability of just about everything and even reduce much needed Government services for Australia's most vulnerable citizens. They may say this is necessary but this Coalition seems never to have questioned whether they could afford the electoral cost of knighting Prince Phillip. Jokes aside, the Abbott Government has, in this mean Grinch-style action, just before the Christmas holidays, cuts $1.5 million in funding from Australia's national peak disability bodies that provide advocacy ahd other support.

In my opinion, and that of many other like-minded astute citizens of this Commonwealth, viewed this cut is nothing but calculated cruelty. What could be the reason behind this reduction of support to people with disabilities? Was such misguided economic policy provoked by their efforts of their advocates to stand up for themselves and fight for a change? It seems that the rationale is this: the best way to silence Government critics is to stop their funding.

If this is so, then it is in total disregard of Australia's commitment to a 'fair go'. The statistics are already horrifying: 45% of people with disabilities already live below the poverty line. Also there is the grim reality of an employment rate 30% below the national average. This is only harnessed by gross inequalities created by poor systems of governance. Why weaken the plight of people with disabilities in order to create savings for an economy that is supposedly in trouble?

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Australia's budget deficit and debt

On 13th August 2013 Kevin Rudd made these comments during an interview. This was in the context of the election campaign and related to Australia's international credit rating. Why would a AAA credit rating be given by the major credit agencies if the economy was not strong.

"We have among the lowest of budget deficits and debt to GDP of any other major economies in the developed world… If it's so bad, Mr Abbott, why have we been given by the three ratings agencies a AAA credit rating?"

The Net Debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is a way of counting how much national debt a country has when compared with the total value of the economy, as measured by GDP. It is used as one indicator of the economic sustainability of a country's debt.

The statistics proclaimed in the article show a very favourable national comparable average. In 2012, Australia's net debt to GDP ratio was 11.6% (that is, our net debt was equivalent to 11.6% of our GDP) and it was then expected to increase to 12.7% in 2013. This is very close to the figure (13%) mentioned by the then Prime Minister in his interview.

The Australian net debt to GDP ratio is low by international standards. The average for the Euro Area in 2012 was 71.9%, lower than the figure reported by the Prime Minister (90%), but still more than six times higher than the debt level in Australia.

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Out of 26 advanced major economies for which net debt data are available from 2012, Australia had the sixth lowest net debt to GDP ratio (including countries that reported a negative net debt).

Economists' opinion of the Federal Budget 2014

Let's consider what some economists are saying about the underlying rationale of the Coalition Government's obsession with cutting the budget deficit. Consider first

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Peter wishes to thank Bruce Wearne and Amanda Gunawardena for their help with this article. Peter will also be appearing on Channel Thirty One's "No Limits" Feburary 20, 2015, talking about alternative economics.



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About the Author

Peter Gibilisco was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition called Friedreich's Ataxia, at age 14. The disability has made his life painful and challenging. He rocks the boat substantially in the formation of needed attributes to succeed in life. For example, he successfully completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne, this was achieved late into the disability's progression. However, he still performs research with the university, as an honorary fellow. Please read about his new book The Politics of Disability.

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