There’s an article in The Australian – from a former Labor Minister so the Liberals can’t blamed for this (yet?) – which suggests that contraception be compulsory for people on welfare. It won’t let me link it directly but you can find it easily enough by searching for Gary Johns, “No Contraception, No Dole”.
IF a person’s sole source of income is the taxpayer, the person, as a condition of benefit, must have contraception. No contraception, no benefit.
Of course it does go on to say:
“And so it was that taxpayers were confronted with two cases over Christmas. Both happened to be indigenous, but of course, many non-indigenous cases abound.”
Now, I could go on with some of the things in the article which sound just a wee bit racist. (Can one be “a wee bit racist”, or is it like being slightly pregnant?) However, because I’m sure that plenty of other people will do that, I prefer to consider the proposal seriously and look at the practicalities of introducing such a scheme.
A number of questions occur to me.
- Would it apply to all welfare recipients and therefore include those on a disability pension?
- Would Catholics be exempt from using the contraception methods that are forbidden by the Pope and be allowed to simply use the rhythm method?
- Would age pensioners be exempt on the grounds that they were past the childbearing age, or would that be discriminatory?
- If you used contraception for, say, five months before getting pregnant, would you be required to repay your benefits?
- Would you be responsible for your own contraception or would be supplied to you at interviews with your employment provider?
- If you skipped a day on the Pill, would you be obliged to report it to Centrelink?
- Would inspectors be required to check that you were actually using the condoms?
I’m sure that there are other questions that need to be answered, but I won’t worry too much because I suspect that this proposal is too wacky, even for our current government.
Although, I have just heard about an aged pensioner who received a text message from Centrelink telling them that they’d have to report every fortnight. One presumes that it’s a mistake. Surely!
Footnote: From Wikipedia on Gary Johns:
“Since his defeat, Johns has drifted from the ALP and has been critical of his old party. Johns told Brett Evans that he might still be a member of the ALP but Evans says that in Johns’ heart he has moved on from the ALP. From 1997 to 2006, he was a senior fellow at the neo-liberal/conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).”
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