VIC Holding a Government Minister to Account

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20 February 2021
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Hello, this is my first post and I may have it in the wrong place, but here goes:

I have identified a problem with the Aged Care Act 1997 (Commonwealth). It creates, and discriminates against, an underclass of elderly. People in Residential Aged Care Facilities that are titled "Flexible Care" are denied access to Hardship Assistance (which is available to people in otherwise titled care facilities). The extent of the problem is that their accommodation costs plus medical costs exceed their pension, placing them in a financially untenable position unless they have adequate financial reserves. It took me a full two years of to-and-fro-ing with bureaucrats to work out that that was the problem.

I have now brought this to the attention of the Minister for Health in his capacity as administrator of that act, and asked the question: "Is my assessment correct, and if so, what will you do to fix it; or if not, what is it intended that people in Flexible Care do to survive?"

In response to my question, to the minister and previously to bureaucrats, I have received nothing but outright lies, evasions, obfuscations, platitudes, "how good are we" propaganda, and elder abuse. The minister currently outright refuses to answer my question.

My question to the forum is: How can I oblige the minister to answer my question, and answer it truthfully? AND: If the minister continues to refuse, what else can I do to resolve the issue?
 

Docupedia

Well-Known Member
7 October 2020
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You can't, directly. Politics 101 is to never give a straight answer to a straight question. Even the indirect ways of getting the question across don't escape that (see below).

There are a variety of ways to get the question put into consideration. Their efficacy depends on circumstances, situation, current political climate, etc. Often a multi-pronged method works best:
(a) Get the opposition to ask it. Here I'm meaning 'Question Time'. The problem is they still to get avoided, and you're relying on someone else putting the question for you - and the chances (even if they agree to do so) or misinterpreting/putting their own spin on it.
(b) Get it into the media. Find someone willing to write an article about it that people will read. There are people in government whose job includes finding and bringing these articles to Minister's attention. If it doesn't have sufficient 'headline appeal' then you're going to have to be lucky to hit a slow news day or similar.
(c) Find/create a need for discussion. Is it creating a budget problem? Is it placing pressure on public resources? Is there a current review that this can sit alongside? Is some public body/university already doing some research on the area?
(d) Find a champion. Find someone high profile who sees this as an area that needs attention, who the pollies are less likely to ignore. It's not just what the question is, but who is asking it.
(e) Put a 'human face' to it. Who has been hurt by this situation? Tell their story.
(f) Wait for an election. Then compete with everyone else looking for attention.

As an example of what I mean by multi-pronged: Near an election, find a journalist willing to put out an article (or a series, even better) telling the story of someone who has lost everything because they can't afford placement and can't access assistance due to this issue. Then have some respected community leaders add their voice to it, putting out a challenge to the government to make a change. The opposition seizes on it as 'another indication that the current government doesn't care, and if we're elected....". If someone thinks they can get elected around this issue, the attention will come.

I doubt this is what you want to hear, but it's the way the system 'works'.
 
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20 February 2021
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Thank you for taking the time to reply. Your information is helpful, and I will start working my way through the suggestions.

I have watched question time, and it seems the ministers are just as evasive with each other as they are with the public. I understand that ministers are supposed to be accountable to the parliament, but how does one get held to account by a group of one's accomplices?
 

Docupedia

Well-Known Member
7 October 2020
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414
If they try hard enough, or they're protected, or still of some use, they generally don't. If they're past their usefulness, can't deflect the blame, or are the easiest sacrifice to appease things - they're gone*.

*That doesn't mean the problem is gone, just that person. What you're really looking to change is the policy and that's not the minister. It's the party, and the deals done to keep power. The solution to that is incredibly easy to identify and incredibly difficult to affect by yourself - get the votes necessary to make the change.
 
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Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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Just don't do what they do in Russia. 😀

Oops. Is it too soon for that joke?
 

Jaywoo220

Well-Known Member
11 November 2019
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Docupedia is spot on. My adviceis it is not worth the stress and angst.

The cold reality is you have no control or power.

Ministers do not give a flying fox about truth, honesty or decency.

It is all about paycheck, power and what intern they can bang on the side.

Legislation protects them and insulates them from any legal avenues.

Look at Robodebt- largest settlement in history, 2000 approx committed suicide relating to debts, and no one lost their job, were held caccountable and not a single f**k was given by government.