Wednesday, April 20, 2005

hit me with your Hockey stick

Joe Hockey wants people to use the internet more to access welfare services:

Mr Hockey has told the National Press Club in Canberra new technologies will allow Australians to make claims from home and reduce the time spent in queues.
"I want an outcome where consumers don't necessarily have to go into any of my offices, don't necessarily have to rely on filling out forms, don't necessarily have to rely on face-to-face services, that's the outcome I want," Mr Hockey said.

Nice idea. Only problem is we dole bludgers welfare consumers don't necessarily have a whole lot of access to new technologies. Or is the "digital divide" a thing of the past in this brave new Liberal world? I know that when my old jalopy of a computer karks it (and it'll be any day now, if all the groaning and grinding of gears and the endless stalling is any indication), I'm going to be out in the digital cold for a pretty long time (cue violins).
But look here, this is interesting too. More of that concentration-of-power thing that the Libs are so fond of:
Mr Hockey also announced the Federal Government will move to dissolve the boards of Centrelink and the Health Insurance Commission and make them statutory agencies.
He says he will introduce legislation during the winter sitting of Parliament.
Mr Hockey says the Government wants a more direct ministerial role in the running of the agencies.
"Under this structure, the heads of the agencies will now report directly to me through the Secretary of the Department of Human Services," he said.
"They will no longer be accountable to boards.
"The existing boards of the Health Insurance Commission or Centrelink will be dissolved."

I mean, who needs a whole board when you can have just one guy?