Wednesday 12 October
1 Sometime in September, I cannot remember the date, Social Services Minister Christian Porter, was addressing the National Press Club. He was talking about ‘welfare dependency’ and as is the conservative way, the speech was an announcement around the Government’s concern about ending ‘welfare dependency’ and the urgent need to cut ‘social security expenditure’.
My ears pricked. Here we go again, I thought. As I understood it the Government was going to pay private companies $96 million to help reduce the amount spent in the area. Then he used this phrase about “novel and brave” ways to put more pressure on the unemployed.
Conservative Governments have always enjoyed describing those without employment as dole bludgers and job snobs among other negative things.
They never seem to take into account that there is 3Million Australians looking for work or that there are 19 people available for every job.
In effect what Porter was saying was that the Government expects workers to knuckle down and work hard for the basic right to social security. Those who can’t or won’t they will call the ”undeserving poor” and the charities can look after them.
Owen Bennett in an article for New Matilda said of his speech:
Despite Porter’s best effort to present the Coalition’s policy agenda as ‘revolutionary’ and ‘data-driven’, his speech actually signalled a return to the ‘bad old days’ of the 1930s.
In this period, Australians who applied for charity relief were subject to an invasive examination to determine their character and morals. Neighbours, local shopkeepers and police were routinely questioned. No doubt, any applicant that was found to use recreational drugs or allow their kids to skip school would struggle to convince the examiners of their ‘worthiness’.
Over the proceeding 85 years, this approach has been discredited as an effective way to help people out of poverty. Is this really the type of system we want to return to?
Experts who watched Porter’s speech came out in support arguing that the Governments proposal would empower the growing list of those ‘addicted to’ to social security. They went so far as to say that the proposals would, over time, lead to a new era of ‘individual freedom’ and help the poorest to find work.
Nothing gets me more annoyed than the ignorance of common logic. This Government is expert at it. Despite all the grand talk there still remains the simple maths problem of 19 people for every job.
Bennett also said this:
Shamefully, not one of these experts have bothered to ask how the Government will make sure there will be enough jobs to accommodate the “welfare addicts” the system spits out into the labour market.
There is a reason no-one has asked this question – if they did it would expose the inconvenient truth that Australia is currently in the midst of an employment crisis (my bold) … According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 713,300 unemployed workers (5.6% of the workforce) and 1,110,100 underemployed workers (a record-high 8.7%).
Adding the 1.82 million Australians looking for work, the most recent ABS data indicates there are a further 1.34 million ‘hidden unemployed’ who are not considered part of the workforce but are also looking for work.
There are 19 job seekers competing for every job vacancy in Australia. That’s a 50 per cent increase since 2011. With the likelihood of another 200,000 joining the job market when the Motor Industry shuts down completely. We are certainly heading for a major crisis.
The Governments answer is to, instead of finding creative ways to produce jobs is to find creative ways of not paying the poor and vulnerable social security.
“Growth and Jobs” did I hear someone say?
2 It was always going to be this way. Labor will now offer Marriage Equality as policy at the next election thus reserving all great reforms for the left of politics. What will Turnbull be able to offer? Another plebiscite? Both parties have not done this issue justice. It has been defeated by the worst of what partisan politics has to offer and dreadful leadership.
Labor sees Turnbull as particularly vulnerable on this issue right up to the next election.
To quote Katharine Murphy:
We can be certain that marriage equality advocates will not step back from the public campaign, given its success in shifting public attitudes in Australia over the past decade.
3 A floodgate of tapes it seems are just waiting in the wings to further confirm the fact that Donald Trump is everything Robert de Niro said he was.
As an American friend said to me yesterday, “Anyone who thinks they can’t serve God and Mammon should take a look at the Republican Party”.
My thought for the day.
“Creative originality is the pregnancy of genius and gives birth to the exploration of possibility and opportunity”.