Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Diary: What It Could of Been Like - Quarantining Welfare Payments


DIARY: Yesterday I copped the wrath of Tim Blair's slimy fanclub after Blair highlighted a spelling mistake on this blog.

It was a bit distressing especially when some cruel comments were made about the death of my previous wife. The guys at Grods have written a great piece about and it if you want to know more - Story link. The worse part was how distracting it was. I had an urgent job to finish by the next day and we were redoing our garden so I had Mrs Terry screaming at me to help. It was hard to get focussed.

Apart from the usual comments you would expect from a site like Blair's, I started getting some nasty and oddly directed insults.

A thing called Amos came here and proceeded to tell me that I'm an utter, utter fuckup. It continued with what you would expect from those with no connection to the problem. "I wonder how he’d be viewed in Singapore, or Iran" and in reference to methadone patients, "They treat the truth with disdain and make lying an art form". There were some nasty comments belittling the death of my wife including one made by an actual moderator of Blair's blog.

I don't usually pay that much attention to Tim Blair because ... face it, he's boring. His style of writing one or two lines with as much innuendo as he can fit in is just , well, boring. Also most of the Blairites are just bozzos. Hardcore bigots and Howard apologists who have little or no respect for anyone. Often they are violent or threatening especially the American readers.

What this incident did do though, was highlight exactly why I have this blog. Drug addiction is not as straight forward as it is portrayed. Ignorance is bliss for most and they are much happier towing the line with simple and mindless policies like "Tough on Drugs". The responses were highly opinionated and without substance. They presumed they knew the 'whats' and 'whys' of my situation and made bizarre comments from their presumptions. Funnily enough, if they had read my blog, it was all there for them. As with most posts, some comments were valid opinions, some weren't and some were bizarre. The difference here is that some comments were disgusting. Pity they're not my target audience because my site stats went through the roof.

I really want to thank those who posted supportive comments or the dozens of emails that were sent to me. Special thanks to Carrie, Ronny & Kim and Editor, Ant and the others at Grods.


What It Could of Been Like - Quarantining Welfare Payments

I found this proposed drug policy from the coalition from before the election. I am not sure if this is still current but it's a taste of what was to come. It's scary stuff and was probably the start of the decline of Harm Minimisation in Australia.

Coalition Government Proposed Drug Policy

Quarantining Welfare Payments

A re-elected Coalition Government will introduce compulsory welfare quarantining for people who have been convicted of criminal drug offences involving hard drugs. Drug abuse remains one of the most serious social problems confronting Australian society.

To address the problem of welfare payments being used to buy illicit drugs, a re-elected Coalition Government will quarantine 100 per cent of welfare payments to people convicted of criminal drug offences involving hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. This will ensure that all Australian Government welfare payments to which 6,000 convicted drug criminals may be entitled will no longer be paid in cash directly to the welfare recipient. The quarantined welfare payments will be managed by Centrelink or non-government organisations, as happens currently under our Financial Case Management policy for people who have serious welfare breaches. Specialist Financial Case Managers will ensure that welfare payments are only spent on rent, food, clothing, medicines and other essential needs. While this will not reduce the total amount of welfare payments, it will ensure that welfare payments will not be able to be spent on illicit drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.

Quarantining of welfare payments will be for a minimum of 12 months, but may be extended if new criminal drug convictions are recorded during the quarantining period. Welfare recipients who are convicted of criminal drug offences will also be eligible for immediate referral to appropriate rehabilitation services and allied health services to help them overcome their drug problems.

A re-elected Coalition Government will negotiate with the States and Territories to provide Centrelink with details of persons who have been convicted of criminal drug offences in their courts. Centrelink will identify welfare recipients who have a drug conviction and will then contact the welfare recipient to arrange an initial interview to discuss the ongoing Financial Case Management of their welfare payments. Monthly interviews with Financial Case Managers will ensure that essential bills are paid regularly.

These arrangements will be applied to all welfare payments made by the Australian Government to a person with a conviction for hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. The Coalition will consider extending this policy to people convicted of criminal offences related to other drugs, including cannabis, in light of experience in implementing this phase of the policy. Legislation will be required. This measure will take effect from December 2008 and will apply to anyone convicted from that date.

This measure will cost $20 million to 2010-11 and will involve the financial case management of welfare payments for up to 6,000 convicted drug criminals a year who do not have custodial sentences.


kit said...

The reference to methadone patients,"They treat the truth with disdain and make lying an art form" makes them sound just like politicians or other supposedly respectable members of the community, therefore its a compliment of sorts!

just stumbled on your sight and am very impressed and moved by your openness and honesty, its refreshing. When I have more time I will definitely revisit. I wish you all the best.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Kit

I never thought of it like that ... good point.