Here be Tygers _ a letter to Nick Champion MP

Dear Mr. Champion,

I was staggered to read in the local newspaper that you were planning to introduce a ‘welfare family budgeting’ proposal in parliament. As a member of a minority government in an electorate with a huge number of welfare voters your risk-taking proposal was most definitely a surprise.

It is quite clear that you have not learnt the painfully expensive lessons from other misguided “it’ll be good for them” humanitarian disasters such as The Stolen Generation, The Lost Generation, and Breaching legislation. The taxpayer funded bill for the first two misguided blunders has already amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The best evidence of the effectiveness of the Howard Government’s much vaunted NT Intervention program is the fact that it annoyed indigenous voters who made their displeasure known at the 2007 federal election. God willing, the issue of breaching triggered deaths could be in the courts before the end of May. In case you have forgotten, you have a certified copy of Neil Skill’s letter in which he adroitly dumped the blame for not reporting breaching triggered deaths fairly and squarely on the Department of Employment which means that both former and Employment Ministers and the current Employment Minister are to blame for not releasing these statistics on an annual basis.

May I also remind you that Brendan O’Connor’s written suggestion that I take my concerns to the SA Police did not include any details of how he was providing to the SA Police, a listing of all the names of SA citizens who died after being breached.

Can you tell me why he apparently forgot to make this information available to the SA Police? Is his forgetfulness perhaps due to the two Senate suppression Orders that have been issued to me in an attempt to conceal these deaths from the general public?

****Leaks.

It seems that more and more websites that deal with political leaks are popping up every day. WikiLeaks may be the best known but it has some other challengers, all keen to pop the lid on political secrets. The only pain in the butt for me is that any documents that I submit to WikiLeaks must be in PDF format. That is not a problem for letters/submissions that I have written as Word 2007 can convert my files to PDF format. The pain is in converting a thousand or more emails into PDF files. All of the written responses from politicians, public servants and the AFP also have to be manually scanned and saved as PDF files. Given that I keep these documents in a secure site for safety/security reasons, this has been a tediously slow process.

WikiLeaks has a five person editing team which examines documents and, where deemed appropriate, verifies the documents provided to Wikileaks.

Using Neil Skill’s letter as the lead file, the summary that I have to provide to WikiLeaks editors is basically as follows:

At this point in time the following can be truthfully stated about the deaths that neither The Dep’t of Employment nor Centrelink have ever reported. They are:

  1. 1. Uncounted;
  2. 2. Unreported;
  3. 3. Secretly classified as confidential;
  4. 4. Classified as “irrelevant” by the Senate’s Employment, Workplace relations & Education Committee;
  5. 5. Subject to at least two Parliamentary Privilege Suppression Orders, one of which is UNDATED and is therefore of dubious legal merit. ( Check out submission 287 to the Anti-Terrorism Bill, #2 Inquiry – it is officially “Not yet available” but is secretly classified as “confident”.)
  6. 6. They have not been investigated. In July 2004, the Australian Federal Police refused to investigate deaths resulting from the Howard Government’s brutal enforcement of Breaching Quotas. The reason? Quote, gravity/sensitivity. End-quote.

Will the files that I provide to WikiLeaks, or any of the other whistle blower web sites, be published?

Who knows?

If they are published, how do you explain that you did not reveal the fatal consequences of Breaching activity that had allegedly never been reported to Centrelink? You have a responsibility to the Wakefield electorate families of those who died to make sure that they know the truth about the hidden causes of so many deaths. Referring Neil Skill’s letter to the Employment Minister or the Home Minister simply will not cut the mustard with the welfare recipient voters in the electorate of Wakefield.

Have you read Professor Disney’s report, Impacts of the new Job Seeker Compliance Framework? It certainly makes for interesting reading, especially the following statement in point 8 on page 2 of the report:

“Some data were released eventually but too late for many people to take them into account in their submission”.

Too right it was too late! Check out Table A2 on page 89 – Job seeker with a vulnerability indicator. Over 8 quarters it held steady in the incredibly tight range of 20%-21% despite the fluctuation in the numbers of registered unemployed fluctuating by significantly more than this.

That incredibly narrow 20%-21% figure strongly suggests that Centrelink management has arbitrarily been imposing a Vulnerability Index QUOTA, i.e. cooking the books. Whilst Centrelink managers have denied ever enforcing annual Breaching quotas, some annual reports clearly identify prosecution quotas. The information in Table A2 adds further weight to the existence of the Breaching quotas so loudly denied by Amanda Vanstone when she was the FaCS Minister. It is certainly a useful avenue for tort lawyers represented the families of deceased welfare recipients and my recommendation to you is ensure that if 55% of unemployed people in Wakefield are at risk, then Centrelink’s records had better accurately record this. Trying to change the records once legal action is launched will be a case of “too little, too late”.

Speaking of Amanda Vanstone, she was on an ABC program on the 7th of this month, and true to form, she got the last word in as the closing credits started to roll. It would have been better is she had kept her mouth shut!

The topic of discussion was whether or not Julian Assange should receive the Nobel Peace prize. Amanda’s final words were that if he was thoughtlessly endangering peoples lives then he should be jailed. 346,078 people were breached in FY 2000-01 when Amanda became the FaCS Minister. Do you know how many of those 346,078 people had a Vulnerability Assessment undertaken before being breached? ZIP. ZILCH. ZERO.

No matter how you look at it, Centrelink’s annual reports make it quite clear that $$$$$ were put ahead of the safety and welfare of breached welfare recipients. Check out the use of the word SCORECARD. Is that an appropriate word to use in an Annual Report when detailing the numbers of people breached? Amanda obviously thought it was appropriate as did the Centrelink CEO who signed off on the report. How would you have felt if page 87 of the Disney Review Panel report had been titled SCORECARD instead of Statistical Index? (Mind you, even that title dehumanizes struggling Aussie Battlers!)

The Bottom Line – Accountability.

Whether breaching triggered deaths pops up in court or on the Internet first is irrelevant. Some years ago I wrote to party leaders Mark Latham and John Howard stating that breaching legislation is a poisoned chalice. God willing, in 2011, federal politicians will finally get to drink from that chalice. In the end though, paternalistic Welfare Bashing in the guise of doing good, is still Welfare Bashing and it is not appreciated by welfare recipients.

1. At the moment I am putting some pressure on Andrew Wilkie to look at unreported breaching triggered deaths that occurred in his electorate of Dennison. How he will respond, like the WikiLeaks editors, is an unknown.

2. Perhaps the biggest unknown is how the more than 4 million people who have survived Breaching/Compliance penalties will respond to the fact that these deaths were classified as both a secret and as “irrelevant” by federal politicians?

  1. With luck, the fact that the AFP regarded them as of insufficient “gravity/sensitivity” to be worth investigating may deflect their anger away from the political parties that were responsible for the deadly breaching legislation that caused these deaths.

With  28% of voters having been breached at least once in their life, welfare legislation is a “Here be Tygers” touchy electoral issue. Take care.

Ronald Medlicott.

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