Wednesday, June 28, 2006

KafkaLink strikes again!

Readers may recall that it took DH one and a half hours to simply drop off her daughter's Pensioner Educational Supplement claim form at Centrelink. (See below, KafkaLink,where you go in to drop off a form & may never be seen again, or not in this lunchtime anyway)

Clients of Centrelink will already be ahead of this blog in anticipating the inexorable sequel.

DH's daughter rang up on Monday to ask what had happened. One hour gone from her life, before she gave up.

DH's daughter rang again on Tuesday, and finally got through after another 1/2 hour's wait.

On Wednesday, a letter arrived from Centrelink

Unfortunately, your claim for Pensioner Education Supplement lodged on the 2nd June, 2006 was not received in our processing centre. ... We apologize for any inconvenience this delay may have caused...

Back to square one!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

$181 a week. How far can you stretch it?

Is $181 a week enough for 2 people for food, general dry goods, medical, dental, and optometrist's gap fees, shoes, toiletries, clothing, repairs, broken appliance replacements, uni fees and textbooks, stationery & computer consumables, soft furnishing wear and tear, or even such sinful luxuries as the occasional book, magazine, CD, membership, movie, latte, paper, birthday presents, a cheap dinner out,  an occasional taxi, forget about a car, forget about holidays, forget about Xmas presents.
Well, that's what DH and child are now living on, once DH has paid rent, privatised health costs and a few other recurring costs as listed below....
DH welcomes your budgetary advice, commiserations, abuse for her profligate ways, donations (remembering that 70 cents in your dollar go straight back to the government)
Or do you think she should compare herself to, say,  the citizens of most of Africa, South America, East Timor, Iraq, other Middle Eastern despotisms, PNG, North Korea, or the non-citizens of Guantanamo, and Christmas Island, or Chinese pieceworkers, or even Western Suburbs pieceworkers,  or Aboriginal women near Uluru, and just stop having such high expectations of life as a middle income earner in one of the richest countries on earth?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tenant's Own Beaconsfield: Tapping in the tunnel?

There was DH thinking she and her fellow renters, public and private, were trapped for ever in their over-priced, ill-fitting cages, with all the weight of negative public opinion, property speculation, negative gearing, mum and dad landlords who must-be-pleased with dubious incentives never mind tenants rights, duplicitous real estate agents, Cherie Burton's questionable if not downright abusive public statements about her constituents, John Howard's roughshod riding over the working class, and the middle-class too, if only they had the sense to see it...

But then she heard, high above her, a faint tapping, and lo, it was Shelter NSW's intrepid team of housing rescue specialists, and there, right over her head (well the bits about negative gearing, institutional investment incentives and fiscal policy, were above her head, anyway) could be heard the sounds of a seminar entitled.

Private rental: how can it work for low-income renters?

and would you believe, the nation's rental situation, which had seemed hopeless, which had even DH so convinced by our Federal and State Government's line of "Sorry, no room for humans - Australia's too poor," that she was thinking of shutting up permanently and contemplating her good fortune compared to, say, the Untouchables of India.... Well, suddenly it all seemed shiftable somehow, and amenable to smart policy thinking.

But more details later of the brilliant ideas from the experts, meanwhile check out the program It was a treat!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Plenty Kava for Johnny, eh?

Seems there was plenty kava for the Howard family in their role as New Guinea plantation stooges. So that's how they got to be so relaxed and comfortable ... and forgetful....
Loved David Marr's expose in today's SMH! 

KafkaLink,where you go in to drop off a form & may never be seen again. or not in this lunchtime ...

Centrelink is becoming decidedly creepy, as opposed to merely being depressing.
In a moment of blind faith in our public institutions, DH offered to duck over to Centrelink in her lunchtime to drop off her daughter's Pension Education Supplement form.
Her instincts should have told her something was wrong the minute she walked in the door. Where were the usual queues of her shuffling fellow desperates? Had they been shunted out the back to be turned into Soylent Green for export? Bussed off to Christmas Island to save on rental subsidies?
Instead, squarely in the centre of the floor, stood a squat grey machine.... surrounded by a seated circle of silent worshippers
The service desks were all deserted, but collaring a passing CSO, DH was told to push the "Student Allowances button", take a ticket from the maw of the grey beast, put her feet up and wait.
"How wonderful", thought DH. "Instead of having to stand in a queue for 10 minutes, I get to take the weight off my feet. Maybe our Government really does care about our comfort after all. :-)"!
ONE HOUR later....
Really. No kidding! Though many had waited, few were called.
One hour later. DH's number finally came up
But when she got to the desk, it turned out her number had the WRONG PREFIX and she was in the wrong queue.
She was told that she should have pushed the "Pensions" button.
But there was no "Pensions" button!!!. Good to see Catch 22 is alive and well in our Government departments. OK, there was an "Aged Pensions" button - but it hardly covered her disabled first year Uni student.
Finally, 90 minutes later, DH was finally able to drop off her form and get a receipt, a procedure which in itself took 30 seconds.
In passing she gleaned from the poor suffering Kafkalink staff, that this system had been imposed on them from Kanberra about a month earlier, they had repeatedly informed Cyentral Commyittee, that the system did not work, that it was a nightmare, but todate, Canberra has been unmoved.
It's all beginning to remind DH of her travels in the former Soviet Union, where you might queue for a day in front of an unmarked door, just to be told which other unmarked door you should be queuing in front of... But surely that sort of thing can't happen here under the auspices of our free market anti-bureaucratic anti-red Government???