Friday, March 19, 2010

Former judge a conspirator?

Former Judge Tony Fitzgerald led a major inquiry into government corruption in the 1980's in Queensland.  He has now published a book called The Fitzgerald Legacy: Reforming Public Life in Australia and Beyond

How may his observations be instructive in the current NDIS process and substance? As readers of this blog know, it has been led by an exclusive club of those with vested interests while excluding people with disabilities who are its stated central concern. The NDIS substance has also been marketed as in our best interests while, in effect, it seems we are being used as  means to ends, which are in some important ways contrary to ours.

To some people our critique is relegated to that of the conspiracy nutter corner, despite our evidence-based analysis. But when a former judge says the same things of government and vested interests that run our country in general, to those we observe in NDIS, we must surely take notice. This is a man who intimately knows how government ticks and the anomalies that it can involve.

In his book he says that "the electorate is little more than an audience to a substantially rule-free political contest." 

Furthermore, he writes:

"Careerists with little or no experience outside politics learn their craft in party administration, politicians' offices and supporters' organisations prior to party preselection and entry to parliament."

"When conduct is legal and the political price is not too high, ethics become irrelevant or worse, a sign of weakness and ignorance of 'realpolitik'."

Such may be the dynamics that underlie NDIS also. The government has framed the answers in advance in the way it asks the questions. This seems true for the Shut Out report as it is for NDIS. It is important that we do not pretend that we are truly being consulted about an NDIS within a framework in which had no part and which excludes those issues that are most vital to us. Demand the terms of reference be amended forthwith. Gough Whitlam set a precedent for doing so in 1974.

As Fitzgerald says "until official misconduct becomes egregious enough to overcome community cynicism and generate public outrage, few Australians seem troubled by, or even interested in, structural and systemic flaws in our political process and public administration." But we do not need to be like that.

Lets make a difference and have an NDIS that is worth having. Act now.

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