If you live under a rock, you will not have heard of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and you also won’t know about the government’s proposal to raise the Medicare Levy. Ok, I’ll assume you have some idea that the NDIS is proposed legislation to help out those Australians who have a disability and those who care for them.
Firstly, what’s a levy? Well, it’s not something you drive your Chevy to, only to find that it’s dry (that’s a levee, as all fans of Don Mclean and karaoke would know). A levy is another name for a tax, used by politicians when they don’t want to use the word tax ‘cause they don’t want to sound like they’re taxing people more. Levies usually have a specific political agenda attached to them, such as the Flood Levy that was raised to compensate Queenslanders after the 2010-11 floods and the levy that paid for the buyback to gun owners after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. In the past, special levies have been temporary and they have generally been seen by the public as necessary to raise the funds needed for a fair dinkum worthwhile cause. (When thinking about how successful the gun buyback has been for reduced gun homicides in Australia, nobody actually says “Whoop-dee-f*&cking-doo!”)
Ok, so what’s the proposed increase in the Medicare Levy? The Gillard government wants to raise the Medicare Levy from 1.5% to 2% to pay for the NDIS (partly pay for that is, as the states pick up the rest of the bill). The difference it would make to someone on $75,000 a year is $375. Whoop-dee-doo. Low income earners would obviously pay heaps less than this, and those on the lowest incomes, below about $20,000, don’t pay the Medicare Levy at all. Considering the difference the NDIS would make to the lives of thousands of struggling Aussies and their families, I reckon it’s the least we can do to help these people out.
*I must disclose that this blog was written 5 days after I stuffed my ankle at touch footy and had to use crutches for the first time. It’s the closest I have ever come to appreciating (to the tiniest degree) what life could be like if I were not able to walk freely. This week has been a struggle, but the big differences between my temporary medical condition and the permanent situation of those who will be eligible for the NDIS are 1) there’s really bugger all wrong with me and I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks, 2) I don’t need a carer (I hope Claudia doesn’t read this!), 3) I have not been financially disadvantaged, and 4) there’s no stigma attached to bung ankles.