The MSM’s NDIS: Make the frame, change the frame, WTFs the frame?

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By Tony ‘The Geek’ Yegles

May 4 2013

I was fascinated by the media’s framing of the NDIS debate this week. Within 48 hours it moved from reporting a naked tax grab by the Prime Minister, to a worthy initiative when Mr Abbott put the national interest ahead of his political interest. Update below May 15 2014

November 29 2012 – NDIS Bill is introduced in Parliament with Coalition absent.

NDIS Bill Introduction 29/11/2012

Tony Abbott: “We have supported the NDIS every step of the way.” NDIS Bill Introduction 29/11/2012 with only 6 LNP MPs present.

December 6 2012 – NSW signs on to the NDIS

PM Julia Gillard, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance at NDIS press conference in Canberra on Thursday 6 December 2012. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

PM Julia Gillard, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance at NDIS press conference in Canberra on Thursday 6 December 2012. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In the lead up to the NDIS Medicare Levy announcement, Joe Hockey and News Limited were the fiercest critics.

Falling revenue forecasts mean Gonski and NDIS reforms are unaffordable: Joe Hockey

Monday April 29: Government leaks the possibility of Medicare Levy

Economists say levy needed to fund NDIS

Levy on table to fund $15bn NDIS


Interestingly the above story and headline in the print edition of The Australian was changed online from Abbott blasts plans for a levy to fund the NDIS to Julia Gillard expected to reveal NDIS levy details

NDIS levy could curb growth: Joe Hockey

Hockey “If the economy is under-performing, you don’t tax it to increase performance. You never tax and regulate your way to prosperity, this is something the Labor Party just doesn’t get. You don’t improve economic growth by increasing taxes.”

Tuesday April 30:  Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces 0.5% levy to fund NDIS

NDIS Levy Announcement

NDIS Levy Announcement

Peter Anderson, the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) ‘We don’t necessarily need the gilt-edged scheme if we actually can’t afford it,”

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey: “A levy being introduced today while the economy is rather fragile is not going to help the economy. It is going to hinder the economy. “The reason why we have grave concerns about having a levy is because business and consumer confidence is fragile and a new levy is not going to help business and consumer confidence,”

Government’s ‘Briefed Out’ Levy Covers Less Than Half of NDIS Cost

Julia Gillard announces 0.5% levy to fund NDIS

Increasing income tax the right choice for a sustainable NDIS

Julia Gillard ups the ante on NDIS levy plan


Wednesday May 1:
The usual suspects take up their pre-determined ideological positions.




Consumer, business confidence at risk due to Medicare levy hike, experts warn

Steve Wojtkiw, chief economist for the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI): This is not the time to impose new taxes.

Joe Hockey told ABC Radio: Now isn’t the time to be introducing any new taxes.

TONY ABBOTT: If you’ve only got half the funding, it stands to reason that you’re only gonna get half the scheme.

Thursday May 2: Abbott supports levy

The usual suspects are forced to change their position to remain in lockstep with Mr Abbott.

News Limited’s Gemma Jones: Politics is put aside in bid to support decency over the National Disability Insurance Scheme



Herald Sun’s Philip Hudson. Note: Victory and Abbott in bold.

Who could forget the gilt-edged Millionaire CEOs:

Myer has warned the proposed increase to the Medicare levy will hurt sales at its stores, since it will affect its direct customer base.

Presumably the levy hurts more than modernity and online sales? What about the tax free threshold from $18,000 to $6,000, the overall lower taxes since 2007, low interest rates and a massive retail stimpack boost at the height of the GFC? Bernie Brookes and Gerry Harvey must live in the same gilt-edged millionaire’s bubble.

How do you create a small business. Give a Big Business to Bernie Brookes.

How do you return a business to its former glory? Give it to Bernie Brookes.

Business Council Australia and Myer forced to defend their NDIS stance. Both say they do support the scheme.

Friday May 3 – MSM is trying to keep up with policy overtaking politics

Horse race journalism is the laziest journalism there is. It is opinion based and anyone and everyone  has one of those. Insiders called for PM’s political death ever since 2010.
So what to do when the merits of  a policy has wide popular support and support from both sides of politics? What if it transcends and breaks out from the lazy framing of left/right and big bad guvmint?

Easy. Flip the reality on its head and see what comes out.

Mr Insider himself, Barry Cassidy: Labor lets Coalition call the shots on NDIS

Michelle Grattan: Political reality overtook some cynical power play from both sides, but especially by the PM  (How many times has Grattan written this exact same story?)

Just a reminder that for the Coalition, NDIS was always in the category of “aspirational” meaning the “never never”. There were no funds allocated, no policy work, no effort put into NDIS. None. Mr Abbott had been on a weeklong charity bike ride, while Hockey has been bagging every Government policy and its costings without providing any of his own.

It is the PM that has had a change of heart on the levy early this week, not Abbott , not Hockey. By Tuesday it became a policy reality.

The coalition had to do all the catch up from bad guvmint, great big new tax to moderate increase and a good start. The same goes for the MSM who lazily applied the same LNP political framing they’ve applied throughout. It was the policy substance that took them by surprise. Suddenly they had to come up with new explanations outside of who lost and who won. Explaining the values of a policy.

Could it be that just maybe the aim was to ensure that important national policy was secured for the future, in the spirit of medicare and superannuation? It took the old 1 – 2 trick to lure out the usual suspects from their opposition and then force them to confront the substance of the policy, the values.

Policy trumping politics? I have never heard that said from an insider. Keating said good policy is good politics.

Margo Kingston called it early and called it right: I feel the disability levy will transcend standard political analysis and game-playing.

Saturday May 4Victoria signs onto the NDIS


Victorian Premier Denis Napthine close to tears as he agrees to Gillard’s National Disability Insurance Scheme

To sum up this historic week, mumbletwits put it best in describing the predicament for the usual suspects:

Amazing what can happen in 24 hours, 48 hours or in a week in politics. From big bad guvmint and great big new tax to political wedging to above politics to national interest.

Update May 15, 2013

Let the record show, who showed up for word today and who did not.


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  1. I guarantee toxic tony feels this week to be the worse week of his life.Behind the fake smile and BS he is planing how to disband the NDIS,Even if he can’t he”ll be wishing he could.How they must hate a social reform getting through.

  2. Well put together Tony, They are tripping over their own logs.
    A couple of weeks ago PM Julia Gillard made a confident assertion of confidence in winning the Sept 14 election. It would appear that she had every reason to be confident. Whilst the government has been doing what they are paid for, policy and government, the opposition were being paid under false pretences. The opposition has been lazy, expecting the support of the majority of the press to carry them over the line by pulling down the work of the Government.
    No work on policy, gone for a bike ride instead. No proper participation in parliament, tries to disenfranchise the electorates of Fisher and Dobell, Don’t hold the government to account, don’t ask questions on policy, move to suspend standing orders. Don’t read, let alone scrutinise, government policy, go digging for dirt from the past.
    Now when the Government starts to get policy into action the opposition are completely on the back foot. The opposition and complicit MSM have missed the boat completely on what government is about. Government requires hard work not wishes, deals, games and promises. Government and politics are different sides of the penny. Heads up maybe PM Julia Gillard is right again.

  3. Brilliant! Don’t see or read papers these days – lucky me. No value add, negative, outdated, BORING angles. No connection with people’s gut values. They are lost.

  4. Jenny Fallon says

    The confusion is apparent on the Liberal Party facebook page. The Party faithful were dead against this “big new tax we can’t afford”, then it was a vote grab by Juliar, and now they have to sell it as a master stroke of poltical outmanoeuvering by Tony. Majority opinion seems to be ‘if it costs me anything I don’t want it’. They may be in for a very rude shock if Hockey ever tries to balance a budget.

  5. J.Fraser says

    Read the MSM at the coffee shop.

    No Foxtel.

    ……………………………………………………… “No” ! Murdoch.

  6. I can’t believe people are still sucked in by the main-stream media’s salivating love-fest of Tony Abbott and the LNP’s policies. Oops, sorry, meant lack of policies. I’m presuming the majority of people are in that camp – according to those polls.
    Maybe people only read/watch the Murdoch press? Maybe the pollsters keep asking the wrong people? I damn well hope so!
    A horrible thought – that people don’t care about the country’s future or worse, that they want to be ruled by those who have no social conscience at all. If so, they may as well be zombies.

  7. J.Fraser says

    “Slick” Abbott loses the September 14 2013 election :

    Sydney North Shore residents face heavy toll, bikes and coffee shops mangled.

    Joe “don’t know” Hockey rules out any Medicare levy to help.

  8. Reblogged this on dariancase.

  9. Reblogged this on Hannah Quinn's Write Stuff and commented:
    Government is fighting not just a coalition opposition, but a very right wing biased news media. Look at just one example of how it was done this week.