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Bill Shorten's big speech makes a splash . . .

Bill Shorten speaks at the Press Club - a marvelous photo capturing the moment by Martin Ollman,

courtesy NCA Newswire

The hard news from yesterday's National Press Club is easy to summarise, because it's so simple. There was none except, perhaps, that Bill Shorten gave a speech.

That's not to disrespect to what he said, or the way he said it. It does, however, reveal something very important about the NDIS Minister's way of going about things. He doesn't want to simply decide on policy and impose it from above. The mission that Shorten had given himself yesterday was quite different: to build a broad coalition of support for the change that's coming.

This in itself is quite remarkable.

As a result of the speech we now understand that, when the NDIS review team hands down its report in October, what will follow is a genuine, root and branch reform of the entire scheme. Anyone could make that happen. What's different about the approach Shorten's taking is that he wants to bring all the scheme's stakeholders with him. That's why he chose to speak yesterday. He genuinely believes the coming changes are vital, that's why he's making a real effort to build legitimacy for the reforms.

He wants them to work but, perhaps more importantly, he believes in them too.

If we applied strict journalistic 'news' judgement to what was said yesterday, there would be no story. Nothing 'happened'. No definitive changes announced and, going back over the detail, you won't find hit-lists of spending programs or any new spending initiatives. Nothing was ruled either in or out; there were no targets.

The one time Shorten's mask slipped was, after being pressed on programs that might be cut, he did give a decisive and dismissive side-swipe to so-called 'Reiki Therapy'. This uses chakra's to supposedly channel positive, healing universal energy throughout the body. Unfortunately, there's no scientific proof it works. Shorten's mouth curled in slight distain as he emphatically asserted it provided no genuine benefits. Anybody hoping for a long and successful career as a Reiki therapist based on a steady stream of NDIS funding might want to swiftly reconsider their career choice.

But this absence of news is actually the point. Shorten is a master of messaging who, unlike many politicians, understands how to get to where he wants to go, and that's the way to understand this speech. The task he gave himself wasn't to tell us what's happening; it was something far more sophisticated.

Bill Shorten wasn't telling us what is going to change. His mission was to build legitimacy for those changes - and he succeeded brilliantly.

The Minister was engaged in preparing the way for what's coming next.

The key point is he's out there advocating for his constituency: people with disability. Shorten has begun a major conversation with the whole country. He's reassuring the nation that it needs to back the NDIS because it's a necessary and reasonable support for people with disability. At the same time he's also showing he will drive change within the system that will cut back on the spiralling cost of the current system.

Change always creates some losers. The point Shorten made yesterday was the alterations that he's ushering in are necessary and will transform the sector for the better. Yesterday's speech was just the first step in building a wide coalition of support for that transformation.

And, in other news . . .

ABC Queensland has been (breathlessly) following-up claims exactly like the ones Bill Shorten was at pain to insist he's cracking down on: overcharging for services that aren't being provided.

A vision-impaired person with disability, Kelvin Steinheardt - also a provider - has allegedly charged the NDIA for multiple services that were never provided, including 'sandbox therapy'. The allegations were brought by the mother of the children after she looked at the bills that were being sent to the NDIA and realised that the claims bore no relation to the services offered. Steinheardt denies this, claiming instead that he has terminated a former worker for allegedly "fraudulent behaviour".

If you're interested, the further claims and counter-claims are laid out in exhausting detail in this 2,000 word investigative piece, compiled by at least two reporters.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission says it's working with the National Disability Insurance Agency to investigate these claims, adding, it "has zero tolerance for fraud" and that "any amount of fraud is unacceptable."

Oh, and ever wonder what drives this sort of news?

Well a study in the scientific journal Nature Human Behaviour has conclusively proved that adding negative words to headlines attracts readers.

An analysis of news stories on social media discovered every additional negative word added to a headline significantly increases 'click-through' rates. The researchers used more than 100,000 different variations of social media news reports and found engagement increased by 2.3 percent every time a negative word (like harm, heartbroken, ugly, troubling, and angry) was used.

This apparently has a cumulative effect, so using two words is twice as powerful as using one. Positive words, however (such as benefit, laughed, pretty, favorite, and kind) had the opposite effect.

Is it really any surprise that the news is always bad?

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