As a long-time agnostic, I remain unconvinced that there is an omniscient, omnipresent being, responsible for creating the world and over-sighting all that takes place there.
That said – if indeed there is such a being, it certainly moves in mysterious ways!
Before I continue, I will state some basic attitudes and concerns that steer my life.
I am a supporter of social justice. I abhor policies which consistently favour those who need little or no help while those in desperate circumstances are driven further into poverty and despair.
I think that those who are motivated by acquisitiveness and greed, do an appalling amount of harm to the community at large and I think that the world is increasingly suffering from unconstrained corruption in governments.
I would never join a political party, because none of those which have existed to date seems capable of understanding the need for policy-making through consensus. As a sop to the Greens, they do have an inkling, but their stridency on some issues does more harm than good.
Alternative dispute resolution is slowing establishing a place for itself in the legal world, with the realisation that two parties in disagreement will probably only stick with an arrangement reached by mutual agreement, rather than one imposed on them externally. The existence of an Appeal Court in all jurisdictions bears witness to that!
So – what is all that leading up to?
At the height of the GFC, the ALP introduced policies which were derided by the Opposition, yet envied by most developed countries, and which enabled Australia to survive the crisis, with an economy which was in better state than most – if any – of those countries could boast.
The tactics employed by the Coalition in 2013 ensured that the ALP lost government.
We then saw everything which had been proposed, or supported, by the ALP, being systematically opposed and discarded by the new Coalition government.
Neo-liberalism and capitalism were firmly entrenched. Women’s shelters lost funding. Support for legal aid services was drastically cut – I could go on at length on all those services, which guaranteed at least basic existence for the disabled and the needy, being starved of funds and support.
As if that was not enough, the Indue card was introduced, on the basis that people requiring government assistance were incapable of budgeting, and consequently squandered their hand-outs on drugs and gambling.
Worse than that – beneficiaries of welfare support from Centrelink were identified as a source of income for Centrelink, and an illegal, flawed process resulted in unfounded debt notices being received by mainly innocent people, followed by threats from debt collectors.
The way the Indue card operated, ignored the fact that secondhand goods – cheaper than new – could not be bought using the card, that there are occasions – school outings, for example – where cash is essential – thus showing the ignorance of the real lives of the needy and, generally putting the hands of government into the pockets of the taxpayers to benefit a wealthy corporation in charge of the scheme.
Not content with that, in its unfounded certainty that anyone on financial support might well be wasting their money on drugs, plans were afoot for government to introduce drug testing for recipients!
All of this in an economy where wage stagnation and unemployment levels meant every job vacancy attracted multiple applicants, many people had to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet and you had to work only 1 hour per week in order to be classified as employed!
Meanwhile, profits were still being made, shareholders dividends were being salted away in tax havens and the degree of inequality between the haves and the have-nots was growing.
The banking inquiry revealed a level of venality which astonished even the most hardened, and, meanwhile, services from Centrelink and NDIS were being undermined by being franchised out to for-profit organisations.
I think the RC into Aged Care is continuing, and I would be prepared to place a bet on the likelihood that it will highlight that lower levels of service are being offered by for-profit providers.
IMHO we made a really big mistake going down the USA path of user pays.
Wait a minute!
All that might be about to change!
The Covid-19 pandemic might even have a silver lining!
I have yet to digest the detail of today’s’ (29/03/20) relief package being announced by the National Cabinet, but it would appear we are about to address current policies by undoing past mistakes.
Already the packages released to date have shown a reversal of previous policy directions, and the little I have heard so far today indicates that might be continuing.
Whether this becomes a continuing trend remains to be seen, but certainly the current health situation is changing the world as we have known it.
Who knows? Maybe the next thing will be, albeit reluctant, acceptance of the need for action on global warming!
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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