17 April 2011

anodyne fail

from The Age this morning:
'Social security and welfare account for 32 per cent of the federal budget. That's $115 billion a year - three times the education budget and twice the health budget.
The disability support pension alone, which is more generous and subject to fewer work tests than the dole, costs $13 billion, the fifth largest single Commonwealth expense.'

Now hang on a sec ...
That frightening figure of $115 billion above, is NOT the amount dispersed to the needy. It is in fact, the cost of welfare plus administering the amount dispersed to the needy.

It includes the cost of flying to Canberra, every single month, 300 Centrelink Managers, and their accommodation and expenses.
It also includes the cost of leasing Centrelink office buildings across the country. It includes the cost of fitting out their staff rooms with 3-door refrigerators, microwaves, and all equipment and supplies for morning and afternoon staff refreshment. It includes the cost of security systems for these buildings, and the cost of heating them in winter to a tropical standard.
It includes the cost of highly sophisticated computerised telephone systems for 100+ staff, so that when I clocked on at 8am and took the first call from the phone box on Coochiemudlo Island, and said
"good morning this is Annie, how can I help you?"
the caller could say
"me money's not in".
It includes the cost of running the stupendous software allowing Annie to instantly get onscreen every detail of that person's situation.

The '$115 billion' includes the stupendous cost of hiring Centrelink staff, who have a high burn-out rate, mainly due to the many abusive and obscene calls they take, that they know they cannot report to their manager (the one flown to Canberra every month for debriefing).
Centrelink staff are trained for 10 days intensely, by human-resource companies with criminal accounting practices, making a killing from their billing.

The $115B includes the cost of these Centrelink claims:
'We have over 300 Customer Service Centres Australia-wide, more than 500 Agents and Access Points in rural and remote areas and other specialist outlets.
Compensation advisory service - state-based Centrelink teams provide services for customers, solicitors and other organisations regarding compensation issues.'

It includes the cost of subsidising the wages of hundreds of Sudanese refugee men who work in slaughterhouses across regional Australia, and the cost of dozens of people employed to administer these refugees assimilation.

Is Julia's Labor government so resentful at their narrowest of electoral margins that they are turning on their traditional voters - the needy.

That '$115 Billion' is a deliberately misleading gross figure used to frighten the people who do work hard, into thinking they are being used, when they could equally feel philanthropic.
Governments of all countries rely on the majority of their electorate not examining any of their pronouncements, and the majority do not.

This links to a feature in The Age with profiles of some 'battlers', and the stories show that their 'battle' is mainly with not being very bright.
That returns the thread to our education system - the system The Age says gets an amount equal to only one third of our spend on Centrelink. Mike Moore would say "Hmmmmmmmmmmmm"


  1. And I say hmmmmm, too, 'Annie'.

    Statistics can be used in the service of perpetuating mistruths as is clearly the case here. Thanks for reminding us.

    Hate it when governments turn on the so-called welfare sector, and especially when as you say, it's a Labour government. but then I'm not sure about a division between politicians these days. They all seem the same.

  2. What I say is rather more than hmmm, but I probably shouldn't.
    We do spend a lot on disability support pension but ignore, and have ignored for decades, the multiple disadvantages that keep people from entering/re-entering the work force. Education and rehabilitation leap to mind as areas that need a big boost in funding. And there are others too. Less stick more carrot I say.

  3. I'd love to say any number of words other than 'hmmm'.
    My kidlet's future is looking dire - even if he does get work it's likely to be subsidised which locks him into the govt-sanctioned disability slavery law of earning the grand total of between $1 - $3 per hour.
    If he's lucky enough to actually get a job...where they actually train him...without workplace bullying...or discrimination...that's not lacking in best Occ. Health and Safety practices...

  4. Ane, send this to the Age, stat. This is the sort of thing that needs to be read by more than just your faithful blog buddies.

    Do it now girl.

  5. Thanks Kath - some people automatically think that $115b is blithely flung at wastrels, when the real wastrelling is in the admin, which you, or I, or any mother of 4 could wade into and halve in a week with sensible thought.
    The Age knows very well their prose is inflammatory. They are in the business of outraging readers to sell copies.
    Choc on.

  6. Hmmm is right. When you remove the cost of the admin payments, the amount left to give the welfare recipients isn't all that great.
    And tossing extra money in the pot for education and rehab doesn't work. There are many cases where edu. and rehab just doesn't work, especially with the mentally ill. There are also many employed people who for one reason or another are unable to work full time and need the small income boost they get from Centrelink just to be able to pay rent and bills with a bit left over for food.
    If the government really wants to cut the costs, let them look at the admin sector first?

  7. I wasn't aware of that the admin costs. I heard about 1/3 on invalid pension are on it for mental issues. Add the unemployed older men, and perhaps women, who skills are now irrelevant and probably have bad backs from their labours, I don't think it is a big problem.

  8. Welfare recipients are always a soft target - the assumption that people are only on benefits because they don't want to work is a key underlier (liar?!).

    Centrelink is also a soft target, when it's really just a great big government unpopular-policy-laundering organisation. It could be run much more cheaply if the gov't didn't keep changing/changing their minds.

    But the real issue with admin costs isn't raised. I think it'd be fun to compare Centrelink admin costs with, say, the admin costs for tax collection or defence of the realm!!

  9. All very good points. I'd bet telstra have the contract for the comms system and are making lots out of it too.
    Also, you made a rhyme! "making a killing from their billing"

  10. Thank you everybody - that scary 115 billion includes the wages of the 110 people who work at the centre where I did. multiply that across their 300 centres, and you will see that if Centrelink closed down tomorrow 33,000 annual salaries would be saved. deduct that from the scary billions ...

  11. Comparing welfare expense with education and health just isn't playing fair! My bet is they're talking federal expenditure only - so when you consider, for example, that the SA State Ed dept alone has almost as many employees as the ATO, there's a whole lot of ed expenses not being factored in. But you probably knew that!

  12. Government airplane flight costs were published today. Human Services was right up there.

  13. well-spotted Andrew.
    When I saw this headline I thought 'she has been reading AoD!'.

  14. Maundy Thursday 21st April 2011:

    Her Maj gives symbolic coins to the deserving - The Guardian reports -
    'at its heart is the simple idea of the sovereign remembering Christian injunctions to be thoughtful of the poor and needy: Maundy derives from mandatum, meaning commandment. As an offertory line sung during the service says:

    "Give alms of thy goods and turn never thy face from any poor man: and then the face of the Lord shall not be turned away from thee."

  15. Re "the cost of leasing Centrelink buildings across the country", anyone entering a Centrelink office will notice that these barn-like structures have large numbers of fully equipped computer work stations, but only a tiny proportion actually have people working at them.This puzzling situation was explained to Lord and I when visiting a Centrelink office in country Victoria. It appears that the "extra" space and equipment are awaiting the arrival of Medicare and Family Assist!! Meanwhile, one shudders to imagine how much of the Welfare budget is being wasted not only on empty space, but also on seeing out existing Medicare office leases.
    Yours in exasperation, Nelly M.

  16. exasperation indeed. Online, Mediwoop and Linkydink encourage their 'customers' to have a common entry to each/both.
    Linky asks for 8-letter pword, tick. Then proceed to link up Mediwoop - oh! they require a 9-letter pword.

    Yes of course one may 'go back' and rejig the 8-letter pword, but christ-on-a-stick you'd think the Managers could ensure a smooth process FFS.
    Re 'regional barns' leasing - property speculators build in the anticipation of luring a highly paid government leasing manager to fall for their project.
    "let's rip off the dopey government", except The Government is us.
    Thank you for your visit.

    oh and jayne above: LOVED your hilarious suggestions for #lessambitiousbooks-
    The Magic Faraway Shrub
    The SMS OF THE Wild
    Hitchhikers Guide To the Suburbs
    To Slightly Injure A Mockingbird.

    although my prize went to the submitter of
    HarryPotter & The Chamber Of COMMERCE
    thanks for visiting