Inconsistency in NSW is draining disability rights - ALA

30th Aug 2012

After much negotiation, NSW has announced it will provide an extra $35 million to support the rollout of a National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Hunter region to help 10,000 people with significant disability.

Yet yesterday, the NSW Government announced it would slash the salary benefits and conditions of at least 80,000 NSW public sector workers including nurses working with such disabilities.

“Where is the sense in that?

"Already the O’Farrell government, under recent changes to its compensation law, has heartlessly cut support for NSW workers injured travelling to and from work and support for families traumatised by shocking injuries to their loved ones.

"The only exception, after much public pressure from the police union, is the exclusion of police and emergency service workers from the changes,” Australian Lawyers Alliance NSW committee spokesman, Anthony Scarcella, said.

“The same law is also temporarily dumping most injured workers onto the industrial scrap heap only to recycle them back into Centrelink and Medicare benefits.

“There is no rhyme or reason to the government’s policy direction. It appears intent on slashing costs wherever and however it can, cutting public servants’ salaries and selling assets to look good financially, to win votes.” Mr Scarcella, said.

“On one side the government is kicking the guts out of important legal rights for NSW injured workers and, on the other, is financially supporting an unbudgeted National Disability Insurance Scheme, because it fears to do otherwise.

"Where is consistency and planning in government? Poor decisions are being made because of knee-jerk reactions by politicians desperate to increase their popularity with powerful lobby groups, but not the marginalised who lack a strong voice and need the most help,” he said.

“It is like the government is preoccupied with being seen to be doing things rather than achieving anything at all.

"They are walking around with fluoro jackets and shovels, digging holes, saying look at us – look how busy we are! Really all they are doing is undermining the hard work that has gone before. It would be far more productive if they just stopped and leant on their shovels for a while,” Mr Scarcella said.

He said it was about time governments learnt about consistency and efficiency in office instead of running around trying to look busy on projects one minute and then robbing workers benefits to pay for such schemes the next.

And while results from the last election showed the O’Farrell Government had an obvious mandate, there was growing public concern for its lack of genuine stakeholder consultation.

“Such emerging arrogance early in its term of office was exactly what tainted our last government in its latter years,” Mr Scarcella said.

Tags: NSW Disability NDIS Workers' rights Workers compensation