'Never see a need without doing something about it.' That is the principle which famously guided Australia's first saint Mary MacKillop. The 'seeing', and the resolve to act, are the primary drivers. Then comes the secondary task of working out where the necessary funding and resources will come from.
The order and the timing are crucial, and it appears that is how the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is evolving, ahead of this month's Federal Budget and the final legislative session of the current Parliament. The public is on board, and the politicians are acting while they can.
It appears most Australians see the need for disability care and are prepared to accept the 0.5 per cent levy as the best way to commence the scheme as soon as possible. Whatever the politics, there has been decisive bipartisan recognition of the need, and commitment to act.
As a result, the quality of life for Australians living with disability is likely to improve substantially and without further delay.
Conceivably Labor has learned the lesson of what happens if we see a need and don't do something about it. We lose an opportunity to secure something that matters, and often the faith and trust of the team that supports us.
Politicians these days believe they can only act if and while the public sees the need. If this is the case, it is up to them to recognise the difference between real and spurious needs, and convince the public accordingly.
For example, we can view the 'need' to 'stop the boats' as a false need that obscures a deeper 'real' need to help refugees in situations of desperation. The politicians manipulate perceptions of need by politically expedient fear mongering instead of promoting public virtue that is linked to real need. Decades ago we were able to see and act on real need when boat people were arriving from Vietnam.
It's regrettable that perceptions of need change over time, and sometimes quite quickly. This is often on the basis of fatigue or fashion, rather than any objective criteria such as new information. Scientists maintain that the real need to do something about climate change is more acute now than it was five years ago, yet it is effectively regarded as unnecessary and therefore off the political agenda.
A political agenda tied to real need is the only way to ensure a better society. Unfortunately it is difficult to find leaders that can see real need and successfully legislate to do something about it.