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Coalition advice for the poor

Back in 2001, Four Corners did a program on the working poor called Going Backwards, where they quoted the statistic that 42 per cent of Australians living in poverty lived in families where one or both adults work.

Then Employment Minister, Tony Abbott, summed up the Coalition view.

“I’m prepared to accept that lots of people in work are doing it tough.  But that’s true of lots of people at — on comparatively good incomes because they have heavier responsibilities.”

Lord knows, keeping up with the lifestyle in the Northern and Eastern suburbs of Sydney can be expensive.  Even people who score a job that requires no qualifications, no experience and no expertise, that pays in the top 1% of incomes and that allows you to charge your employer for pretty much everything, can struggle because of their “higher responsibilities”.

Unlike the poor who only have themselves to blame for their circumstances which are due to poor choices.

“We can’t abolish poverty because poverty in part is a function of individual behaviour. We can’t stop people drinking. We can’t stop people gambling. We can’t stop people having substance problems. We can’t stop people from making mistakes that cause them to be less well-off than they might otherwise be,” Mr Abbott told Four Corners.

And we certainly won’t regulate gambling or drinking because we aren’t a nanny state, plus they make a lot of money for the government and, by happy coincidence, our donors.  Party fundraising is a very important aspect of governing.

Barnaby Joyce’s solution is for everyone to move to the country.

“It annoys me when people say, ‘Oh, we’ve got a housing crisis in Australia’. I say, no mate we’ve got a housing crisis in Sydney, and you know why? Because everyone wants to live there.”

Barnaby helpfully pointed out that, in the bush, “The price of a house, average house, is slightly over $300,000. The thing about that is, you get to actually own it in your life.”

Assuming, of course, that you can save the deposit and have secure employment, a good credit rating, and sufficient assets and disposable income to convince the bank to give you a loan.

The Tamworth-based politician angrily denied the idea that moving to the country is difficult because of a lack of jobs.

“Bulls***! Of course there’s jobs here,” he said, laughing. “Of course there’s jobs here – and everywhere else! Unless you don’t want a job. And if you don’t want a job, well, those people can live everywhere as well.”

One wonders how much time Barnaby is spending in his own electorate which actually has the highest unemployment rate in NSW.

In March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed unemployment has been on a steady climb since December, when the rate was 7.9 per cent – it now sits at 8.7 per cent, well above the national average of 5.7 per cent. Across the New England North West almost 10,000 people are on Centrelink welfare payments – excluding students and apprentices – while the youth unemployment rate sits at 14.8 per cent.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson suggested that what was lacking was “the drive, the want and the commitment”.

“If you really want a job, grab your resume, dress smartly and go start knocking on doors.  When I was in private business, there was nothing better than someone dressed smartly coming into my office showing initiative.  Have a crack, I believe the jobs are out there.”

Belief is a wonderful sinecure, but what of those who have nothing to put on a resume and can’t afford a smart outfit?

While Barnaby has been telling everyone to move bush, people in remote communities are being forced off the land their ancestors have inhabited for thousands of years, and told to go to town.

“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have,” Abbott said during a visit to Kalgoorlie after he cut federal funding for remote communities, handing the responsibility to the states.

“If people choose to live miles away from where there’s a school, if people choose not to access the school of the air, if people choose to live where there’s no jobs, obviously it’s very, very difficult to close the gap,” he said.

“It is not unreasonable for the state government to say if the cost of providing services in a particular remote location is out of all proportion to the benefits being delivered,” Abbott said. “Fine, by all means live in a remote location, but there’s a limit to what you can expect the state to do for you if you want to live there.”

After all, as Abbott previously pointed out, “There may not be a great job for [aboriginal people] but whatever there is, they just have to do it… And if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done.”

Malcolm Turnbull shows his concern for the homeless by sleeping out one night a year.  To address the housing crisis, he firmly tells the states to build more houses for investors and young people with rich parents to buy.

As people move further out in the suburban sprawl in search of somewhere affordable to live, the government is building more toll roads to help them get to work quicker.  The further out you live, the more you will pay.

Joe Hockey’s observation that “The poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases” to suggest that a rise in the fuel excise was somehow a progressive tax reform, ignores the inadequacies of public transport in our outer suburbs and then Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews’ insistence that people should be prepared to go further than a 90 minute travel radius from home in search of employment.

In any case, they should just “get a better paying job” if they are struggling.

In response to Labor’s announced vision to reduce inequality, we have had a bevy of Coalition Ministers telling us things have actually been getting better, there is no problem, or if there is one it’s because people are lazy, that poverty is somehow their choice, that increasing welfare payments wouldn’t help, that there are jobs for anyone who wants one.  Never mind that wages are stagnant, or decreasing, and job security vanishing.

As Tony Abbott reminded us, “The poor will always be with us.” Jesus said so.


34 comments

  1. John Lord

    Lamentable that he is our Deputy Prime Minister.

  2. Davo

    On the bright side, if someone has to be at the rejigged poverty level to be considered actually poor, perhaps we can look forward to a cessation of squealing from people on $120 000 per year that they are battlers, and a reduction in government-sponsored middle class welfare. No…?

  3. king1394

    We can’t abolish poverty because it is essential to the functioning of a competitive capitalist society

  4. stephentardrew

    Poverty is essential to neoclassical, neoliberal and neoconservative economics however heterodox economists beg to disagree. A job guarantee and healthy attitude to government debt, taxation and private debt could alleviate much unnecessary suffering and hardship.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Aside from alleviating suffering, if the masses have more disposable income, demand will increase thus providing more jobs and more revenue for the government through income tax and GST. They may also be able to afford that nice outfit to wear and the fare/tolls to get to a job interview not to mention the internet and computer to look for the job in the first place.

  6. Ron Chandler (@RonChandler6)

    “Half of all jobs created in Australia in the past decade have been created within 2km of either the Sydney or Melbourne GPO”
    – MHR Chris Bowen, speaking at PerCapita
    Maybe Barnyard should think about that, when inventing bullshit rationales for the housing (bubble) crisis.

  7. clintbint

    The trouble is if you get a better paying job you may well get ideas above your station, and where would we be if everyone did that?

  8. Jaquix

    One reform I’d like the next government to do is to create a proper press/media watchdog with sharp teeth to curb the worst excesses of the Murdoch media empire, which has caused so much needless damage to Australia. Restricting % spread becoming redundant with social media etc. ABC axed their excellent Fact Check unit just in time for the election campaign – funny that? And if I were that govt I’d keep mum about it until safely in office. Otherwise Murdoch would redouble its efforts against them. Remember theyve got a head start on others incl struggling Fairfax, with the $30 million Turnbull has given them..

  9. helvityni

    Aren’t we trying to be like Mother England, we foster class-system by having private and public schools, same with the hospitals. Why not just have good schools and hospitals. Other countries manage to do that, why not Australia, this is after all a fairly young country…we do not have history weighing us down. We could take a fresh, progressive attitude to all things …( oops ,I was going to say ‘innovative’, that favourite word of Mal’s…)

  10. Maeve Carney

    I am not in favour of regulating things like gambling and drinking. Just because some people abuse it, is not a goof enough reason to regulate it for everyone. Blaming poverty on those things is just so very small minded. I am sure that for some people gambling and drinking is the cause of their poverty, but for the vast majority of poor people this over si plification and blaming is unhelpful and blatantly wrong.

  11. diannaart

    Excellent summary of our right wing politicans’ POV on inequality. Where do they get their ideas from?

    Well, there’s the IPA view of inequality:

    …excerpt from Sinclair Davidson… It is unsurprising that in a dynamic and prosperous country like Australia we’d observe inequality. Remember – there is a huge difference between inequality and poverty. Poverty has come to mean households only have two large-screen televisions but still enjoy indoor plumbing and electricity. The fact is that those people who better satisfy the needs and wants of their fellow Australians in the market will, over time, earn more income than those who do not. Nobody thinks it is unfair that Kylie Minogue has earned more from her singing career than I have from my singing career.

    The counterpoint to this sort of argument is always, but what about nurses and police and teachers and firemen and the like? Those people who perform extraordinarily valuable tasks yet don’t earn very much. The first obvious point to make is that these functions are invariably supplied by government and their salaries are determined not by a market process but rather by politicians and other public servants. Mind you, it is people in this income category who really benefit from those “tax rorts” such as negative gearing and novated leases that the ALP are so keen to shut down.

    In a country like Australia there is a clear relationship between work and reward. Those individuals who study hard, work hard, save their money, avoid chemical dependency, don’t have more children than they can afford, tend to live happy and comfortable lives. Not always. To be sure there is bad luck and misfortune but then we have a generous and means-tested welfare system to provide a hand up. Welfare was never intended to subsidise the lifestyle choices of the idle.

    Yet all that is ignored in a rush to get to the main game: soak the prosperous, the hard working, the adventurous, all in order to subsidise the idle.

    …It may be the case that inequality is a problem is some parts of the world – but not Australia. Mind you, the IMF-mandated solutions to inequality such as labour market liberalisation and reduced budget deficits are policies we should adopt. We already do well in health, education, and especially well on fiscal redistribution…

    https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/in-the-news/australia-not-unequal-society-politics-envy-hurt

    all in order to subsidise the idle is a convenient belief to counter any disturbance of one’s conscience that, maybe, in a prosperous country like Australia, people are not being treated as equals.

  12. Andreas Bimba

    Tony Abbott was right, “the poor will always be with us” – for as long as we have neoliberal governments!

  13. Aortic

    Just saw Tony on an old Q&A ( it would be an old program as he never had the intestinal fortitude to appear later) saying in his usual look umm ahh pedantic way that Jesus knew there was a place for everyone and he also knew it wasn’t everyone’s place to come to Australia. Now if that’s not a well thought out scientific answer to our asylum seeker problem I don’t know what is. I am assuming as Jesus father made the world he would have told his son about Oz or perhaps he hopped on the ark for a look as the kangaroos and all our other natives hopped off. As most of the others in the front bench are believers in some sort of religion are we to assume in 2017, this reasoned academic thought is the norm? I was going to say Good God but I don’t think even he would believe it either.

  14. Kronomex

    “You can be as poor as you like just don’t show it public. It lowers the whole tone of the country and upsets the rich,” says the LNP from their pedestal.

  15. guest

    Take the latest water-theft example. It suggests that there are those only too happy to rort the system and rob from the poor or those doing the right thing. And we see how people in authority can be seen to collude with those who do the wrong thing because there is a buck in it for them as well.

    We have illegal clearing of land and disregard for the law or the environment.

    Coal continues to be dug up, transported and burned despite the clear evidence of what that does to Oz, to trading partners overseas and to the planet. Not to mention the delicate matter of human health – black lung and other respiratory problems – and the destruction of aquaducts, etc, etc, – land left un-rehabilitated.

    Meanwhile a foreign person uses his media to interfere in Oz politics through the most biased and mostly outdated ideology derived from an economic model which exploits the populus across the world. But the populus is realising that globalisation is exploitation and slavery on a massive scale which benefits only the rich. So we see in the USA those who hold onto the American Dream, hoping that Trump, the wealthy celebrity, will deliver, despite the signs that it will not happen. Deluded Gatsby gazes at the green light and is driven relentlessly backwards into a past which has gone.

    So there is this attempt to find scapegoats for the political failure which besets us. Blame Labor, blame the unions…or the Muslims…or Indigenous people..or leftie academics taking over everything…or the UN trying to take over the world though the scam of Climate Change…or people turning away from Christianity…or exploiting ‘identity politics’ (whatever that is).

    Daily now we are told that SA, for example, as a State, cannot keep the lights on. And what are they talking about? One day in September last year when the wind blew down 20+ power-line pylons. If the system is so bad, why does it not fail every day? It is used as a sure-fire proof of the need for coal to buttress a failed Federal energy policy.

    All this noise and static delivered to us by media which produces a farrago of porridge and re-boiled cabbage. The writing is mainly unreadable and just befuddles the brain, the shock jocks shout on the air waves so as to drown out the opponents of their watered down gruel. The populus reaches out on Facebook trying to find someone who might take notice of our daily lives.

    It is time we challenged the rubbish for what it is. Challenge the replies to questions when the answers avoid the question. Speak in plain language addressed to the ideological clap-trap which disguises the truth. Demand that standards are met and, when they are not, that the punishment is severe.

    Too often we are being taken for fools by charlatans out to pocket our money and disrupt our lives for reasons which are unacceptable. Enough is enough!

  16. Max Gross

    Nothing LNP hacks like Joyce, Hockey or Abbott say has the slightest relevance in the real world.

  17. guest

    Just a little example of right-wing ideology. Jackie Kelly on The Drum tonight (27/7/17) told us the Gillian Triggs will leave an appalling legacy of mismanagement because she was not a leader, just an academic without practical experience, etc. Kelly made no attempt at providing supporting evidence, just the usual Murdoch and Coalition hatchet job.

    Luckily Davis Marr was there to put her straight about the negative right-wing attitude to human rights of any kind.

    Let us look at how Spencer Zifcak, acting president of Liberty Victoria, Melbourne, explained the decision to give Gillian Triggs a Voltaire Award, published 6/5/17.

    *delay to the release of the enquiry into children in detention: because it would have interfered with the ‘politicised environment of a federal election’. (A Drum panel member suggested that the concern with the timing of the report was not so much the Coalition’s concern for children, but to protect their own tails.)

    *pursuit of Qld university students: she did not pursue them ‘for years’ because she did not have the power to dismiss the complaint – only judges of the Federal Court., but Triggs was bound to conciliate the complaints – a fault in the law. So also with complaints against Bill Leak.

    *repeatedly misled parliamentary enquiries: made a couple of errors and apologised.

    Kelly made no claims to support her attack on Triggs; nor did she rebut Liberty Victoria’s support for Triggs. Just an ideological rant.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Jackie Kelly is thick as a post. Her husband was caught distributing pamphlets just before the 2007 election which claimed to be from “The Islamic Australia Federation”, a non-existent organisation, thanking the Australian Labor Party for supporting terrorists involved with the 2002 Bali bombings.

    Nothing has changed with the Libs. They will say and do anything to whip up discontent and to find scapegoats. They have no thought of actually helping poor people, or refugees. Their only thought is to increase profits for the wealthy. It makes the averages look better even if the figures are completely skewed due to the obscene wealth of a few.

  19. Freethinker

    IMO this quote from Confucius is spot on:
    In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.
    In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

  20. helvityni

    Yes guest, but why didn’t Julia Baird step in and say it was Marr’s time to speak, she allowed Jackie Kelly to shout over David…
    I find it extremely irritating…

    Triggs did an excellent job, ever whilst being treated almost as badly as the asylum seekers by the Liberals.

  21. Matters Not

    I thought Kelly’s performance on The Drum tonight was very helpful. She should have been given even more free time to vomit as she liked. Her ignorance was astounding. Claimed to have studied Constitutional Law. Bet the University, the Lecturers, the Tutors et al are now hiding under their beds. Probably worth a Senate Inquiry – from both the University and the Institution.

    When will Senator Roberts (and other nutters) be given the same opportunity as Ms Kelly? More rope – is never enough.

    Triggs will go down in history, for all the good and right reasons. So will Kelly – for all the wrong and bad reasons. Such is life.

  22. Zathras

    You can’t be rich unless there are also poor people to compare yourself to.
    The poorer others are, the richer you automatically become and the safer your position will be.

    You can justify your own wealth by arguing that the poor can also somehow become rich (although the overwhelming majority cannot) and any failure is their fault alone -although inheriting a string of mining leases or a multi-million dollar company helps.

    In fact the aim of life itself is to gather as much wealth as you can in any way you can and regardless of any consequences for others.
    Whoever has the most toys when they die – wins!

    While we increase our wealth we can distract the poor with shiny techno-trinkets and mind-numbing entertainment while shifting the blame for the endless plight of the poor to others – dole bludgers, immigrants and so on. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

    These are the beliefs of the modern capitalist economy and the examples set by government.

  23. Wayne Johnson

    our government is an utter disgrace look at what they have done to the poor i hate this government nearly as much as their criminal backer
    and we all know who that is

  24. havanaliedown

    Thankfully, since 1990 no Australian child has lived in poverty…

  25. Matters Not

    Granted there’s concerns about the dual citizenship of those elected to the Parliament. Canucks don’t qualify, neither do Kiwis – and Poms are an absolute ‘no no’ even though (our) Queen can’t be on the electoral roll because she is not a citizen of Australia. Somewhat confusing. Allegiance to another Nation (real or imagined) translates to disqualification.

    But what about those who mentally reside on an alternative planet or in a parallel universe? Apparently they suffer no penalty. How many? Lots. Do you want an essay, or will a list suffice?

    There’s Roberts, Hanson, Bernardi, Dutton, Joyce … And many more.

  26. John

    “Barnaby Joyce’s solution is for everyone to move to the country”. What an idiot!
    I moved to the country four years ago and cant find work despite two degrees and a lifetime of experience.
    Ironically I’m in christian porter’s electorate.

  27. Möbius Ecko

    havanaliedown at 10:26 pm

    Since 1996 successive Coalition governments have put many children into poverty and continue to do so at an ever increasing rate and scope.

  28. helvityni

    Matters Not, you forgot about Michaelia; her face (screen-size) appeared on Mad as Hell last night, add to that the screeching voice: I got mighty frightened.

    It also shortened Hubby’s cat-nap…..

  29. Matters Not

    As Sartre argued: Existence precedes essence. To date, Michaelia is awaiting the essence.

    As I understand it, she’s been offered a number of roles in horror movies provided she remains her natural self. No ‘acting’ allowed.

  30. jimhaz

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Lets hope she never gets the Health portfolio if Dutton does not subsume it in the meantime by deciding terrorism is a health issue.

    “Nurse Mildred Ratched (also known as “Big Nurse”): The tyrannical head nurse of the mental institution, who exercises near-total control over those in her care, including her subordinates. She will not hesitate to restrict her patients’ access to medication, amenities, and basic human necessities if it suits her whims”

    Reading that perhaps the entire LNP are their own form of Nurse Ratched – they sure love restricting “basic human necessities”.

  31. Enslaved

    Some pertinent quotes!

    *Make no mistake,even for the best off in society,
    profound inequality has a heavy economic price.
    It fuels the crime that is a burden on everyone,while the dependency,
    & deprivation it creates limits the economies potential.

    *Inequality rather than want is the cause of trouble.

    *Society is just organized injustice.

    *The native will come to call their slavery culture. Vespasian.

    “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand”.
    Mark Twain.

    Edmund Burke: “All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.”

    Come on folks before the poly criminals(politicians) burn the world again!!

  32. totaram

    “Mind you, the IMF-mandated solutions to inequality such as labour market liberalisation and reduced budget deficits are policies we should adopt.”

    I’m pretty sure the IMF hasn’t suggested these policies as solutions to inequality, although they generally “mandate” such neoliberal “solutions” to practically anything and everything. Sinclair Davidson, like his fellow right-wing ideologues, is pretty good at making things up. I wouldn’t trust him to even do my household accounts, in spite of his claimed knowledge of economics.

  33. Harquebus

    “Our central banks have caused our financial crises, not saved us from them.”
    “That most people still find it hard to believe that America -and the west- has been getting poorer for the past 30-40 years, goes to show how effective the narratives have been.”
    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/07/central-banks-are-the-crisis/

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