Friday, 2 December 2011

One of many virtues

The right truck

My bride tells me that patience is not my most noteworthy virtue.

She should know, as we’ve been married for thirty four years.

I reckon that’s changed with advancing years. My evidence for this statement resides in recent experience with an e-bay purchase.

I bought this item (a hardtop for our MX5) on 25th August. I was probably a bit lucky to snaffle it, as they’re as rare as hens’ teeth and fiendishly expensive when new ($3000+).

I got this one for a third of that, so I was feeling pretty chuffed.

Problem was getting it from Melbourne to Toowoomba.

I was warned by the wise (members of local MX5 clubs) that these things don’t travel well. Simply loading it into a truck as is would be seriously tempting the courier Gods.

OK I thought – no problem – I’ll drive down to Melbourne, clip it on, and drive it home. This would combine a nice drive in the country with shipping the goods north. I’m always looking for excuses to drive this thing all day.

Unfortunately, the seller broke the bad news that it was lacking the vital parts (“Frankenstein” bolts and striker plates) that would attach it to my car. There are about 20 different combinations of hardtops and MX5s, despite the fact that only three models exist (NA, NB and NC), and the only way to be sure was to view the car and the hardtop together.

I wasn’t going to risk buying parts sight unseen, driving to Melbourne, and then finding that it wouldn’t fit because I didn’t have the right combination of parts.

Plan B was to get a crate made in Melbourne, ask my obliging vendor to pack the hardtop inside, and freight it north.

I found a crew in Melbourne, who knocked up crates, and gave them the dimensions. They fabricated a crate for $137 which was reasonable. I didn’t realise how reasonable until I saw the crate for the first time today.
It's sturdy

There seemed to be an interminable delay in getting it picked up from the vendors place in Melbourne – about ten days actually. I kept hearing that they “don’t have the right truck”. The couriers work alone, so if they’re shifting anything substantial they need a truck with a hoist.

Did I say “substantial”?

This crate would be proof against nuclear attack, and probably weighed four times as much as the hardtop.

Anyhow, it arrived today, after a further 24 hour delay getting it from the depot in Toowoomba to our place because (wait for it) they “didn’t have the right truck”.

It's nearly as big as the car

The hardtop fits. I know that because I’ve already tried it on, carefully avoiding the temptation to take it for a run with only the front clips engaged.

I figure that after waiting four months, another week or two sourcing the attachment parts won’t be a problem. It’s in good nick – although I might get it sprayed to match the MX5. It’s black – too hot in this climate.

Waiting for the attachments and the paint job is no hassle.

I’m patient now. Even my bride says so.

Black or silver?                                                                                                                                                                             

  It looks OK fitted.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

NDIS - What's That?

Years ago I read an article by a couple of disability workers in the USA. From memory, Katz and Katz – a husband and wife team.

Unfortunately, with the passage of time and five house moves intervening, I’ve lost the original journal.

I remember the content well.

Put simply, it points that the greatest predictor of quality of life is autonomy. Autonomy has become the preferred term describing that combination of freedom and independence that enables any individual to control their environment and activity.

Katz and Katz maintained that there is a direct negative correlation between quality of life and dependency. If you have to depend on someone else (a carer for example) to allow you to live an active life, by definition your quality of life is poor.

If I want to (for example) go to the shops and need to wait for someone else to take me, I am dependent on that other person. My quality of life depends on that other person’s generosity and availability.

Given that 5% of the Australian population is classified as having a disability, this problem of dependency affects over 1 million. With the rapidly aging demographic in this country, this proportion will only increase.

It is a significant issue, and effects more people, day to day, than other hot button issues such as the Carbon Tax, boat people and the perils of minority government.

There is a political dimension to this, relating to the push for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which generally has bipartisan support, but when was the last time you saw it on the front pages of any newspaper or first item on the evening TV news?

It’s just not sexy. It doesn’t have heroes and villains, and there’s no oppositional behaviour around it, so the media largely leaves it alone.

There is an item today about the sad and shameful situation in our national treatment of people with a disability in comparison to other OECD countries, but I’ll bet you pounds to peanuts that it won’t become the topic of conversation on blogs or talk back radio.

 An extract from the news report -

The report said 45 per cent of people in Australia with disabilities lived in or near poverty and Australia had been ranked 27th out of 27 OECD countries for relative poverty risk. Australia ranked 21st out of OECD countries for the provision of job opportunities for the disabled, with just 31 per cent of people with disabilities in employment.

It says a lot about our national political dialogue, and most of what it says is pretty disgusting.

By the way, I think I know why Price Waterhouse actually bothered with the study. One of the people driving it is a quadriplegic.

Says it all really.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

What was all that about?

6879 came this way last year

 53900 overstayers (currently) came this way

The news that refugees will begin to be released into the community hopefully marks the end of a deplorable episode in recent Australian history.

The phenomenon of both major parties toadying to the basest xenophobic instincts in our national psyche has been wrecked by the legal system.

The wierdness in this comes from the fact that our refugee intake makes up less than 2% of total immigration. Why the fuss about 2%?

It would be great if the shock jocks got just as excited about the 5% of 20 million Australians (born here) with disabilities and their carers living as third class citizens as they do about the 6700 from the boats. Why isn't a National Disabilities Insurance scheme, (which would make a real difference to one million people) as important as the issue of  a relative trickle of unauthorised arrivals? When was the last time you heard Ray Hadley or Alan Jones foaming at the mouth about people with disabilities?

We’re back where we were before Tampa and the Pacific Solution.

From here on in, people arriving unlawfully by boat will be treated in the same way as those coming by plane and unlawfully overstaying.

The irony in all this is that it took Australian law, rather than Australian politics to restore sanity on this issue.

It has to be the best argument for the separation of powers I’ve seen in a long time. In effect, it represents the High Court saying to the Australian government “Wake up to yourselves”, or as my Millennial daughter is fond of saying “Get real!”

Howard’s draconian and retroactive Border Protection Bill 2001 has finally been relegated to that chapter of our national history where other totalitarian legislation such as (for example) the May 1965 amendments to the Defence Act can be found.

If you believe the rabid Right we’ll now see riot and revolution on our streets, boat people driving around in brand new Commodores, and burqa wearing and Sharia law compulsory.

Maybe if none of these catastrophes actually eventuate, we’ll see an end to the hysteria.

But then again, maybe not. The only thing that sells more newspapers than fear and xenophobia is steamy sex stories.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...