My last post (Base Camp Day 1) optimistically set out a framework, and chirruped that I needed to identify what i had already written that would be relevant, adapt some of that material, make it fit for purpose and then stick it in the various relevant chapters. This, I thought, would give me a sense of achievement, and get me moving in the right direction. So then what did I do when I actually found myself in front of my monitor, with a fresh cup of coffee, Nine to Noon on in the background, a closed office door and no other handy distractions? Not that. Of course. I completely changed the script again. I have a suspicion I’ll be doing this a bit over the next wee while.
Why did I change? I found myself browsing though some other law texts on the presumption that looking at other textbooks will actually help me work out what I want this one to be. I had done a fair bit of this browsing before, and of course I had already identified the kind of text I want it to be. That’s why I put in place certain kinds of research in the first place and how I was able to get funding. I had to have an idea of what I wanted this book to be. But having that ‘overview’ is not quite the same thing as having a vision for each chapter that can then be turned into something on paper in front of my eyes. It was with this sharper focus in mind that I went on my little browsing adventure. And I came up with this loose framework that I am going to try and follow for each ‘benefit type’ chapter. (Those chapters where I explain and demonstrate the different clusters of benefits for different groups, family benefits, youth benefits, etc.). Here it is:
The format for each benefit chapter
- Opening remarks/introduction
- Identification of the relevant conceptual framework, and the steps for interpreting it for each section. Identification of relevant policy, and any issues of inconsistency
- Identify what areas will be covered.
- For each section:
- Identify eligibility criteria
- What entitlements are at stake
- Where the biggest legal challenges arise
- Cases that illustrate those problems, higher courts, SSAA decisions
- Options for future reform
- Concluding remarks
Also include: learning points (for student readers)
I have already made a start on the family benefits chapter. I have identified four principles or presumptions that underpin a lot of the relevant provisions. Identifying these principles as a ‘conceptual framework’ is probably a bit grand, really but it does depend on my own analysis to determine that these presumptions exist in the first place. Although I have looked through other social security law texts and seen how they identify operative presumptions and principles in those legislative frameworks, our own system is distinct. Now I just have to hope I’m right! Time, and more drafting will tell. I think this part of each benefit chapter will serve as a good underpinning for A-E above. Well I hope so. I’ve written 2,500 words so far, which is 2,500 words more than I had for this part of the book a week ago. So far to go, but it does feel good to be taking those baby steps. It’s a slow process, involving putting a sentence on paper, then checking each bit of legislation, MSD policy guidelines, checking earlier versions of the same legislative provisions, adding footnotes as I go to make sure each sentence is OK. But curiously I can do some of this without a great deal of sweat, because it is more about checking correctness and less about pursuit of argument. So I have been able to do a little bit each day for the last three days. That is the rhythm I’m hoping to establish: writing a small bit every day without fail. Ha!! Let’s wait and see.