In October 2019, this website discussed the fate of the Murugappen family who were forcibly removed from their home in Biloela, Queensland by Border Force. At the time we questioned how someone who claims to have a fundamentalist Christian view of the Bible as the absolute truth (despite the ‘over 700 inconsistencies’ listed here) could justify his Government’s callous treatment of people while his Christian beliefs apparently direct him to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Since then, the Murugappan family have been detained as the sole inmates at the Christmas Island Detention Centre – costing you and I as taxpayers an estimated $6million. The political need for proof that the Coalition Government is ‘tough’ on falsely claimed ‘queue jumpers’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ has, to borrow a phrase from former Treasurer Joe Hockey, turned the Murugappan family from lifters – as they had jobs, paid their taxes and were active in the Biloela community – to leaners that have soaked up literally millions of dollars with no hope of a return to the ‘investment’. And it’s not the family’s fault – the Morrison Coalition Government is entirely to blame.
We all know the outcome here. The younger daughter, 3 at the time, was airlifted to the Perth Children’s Hospital with her mother on 7 June after her parents had been advising Border Force’s contracted medical staff she was unwell. After a week of continual requests for medical assistance, young Tharnicaa was transferred to the Christmas Island Hospital where doctors unrelated to Border Force determined she had a blood infection, possibly septicaemia. As reported on the 9 News website, Tharnicaa’s father and sister were relocated to Perth a week later for the mental health of both of the sisters. The Morrison Coalition Government relented to public pressure and granted the family temporary approval to stay in Australia with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke claiming “It is the right decision, a compassionate decision.”
What complete and utter rubbish. A compassionate decision would have been to leave the family in Biloela some years ago and let them get along with their lives. The Morrison Coalition Government’s hounding of this family have ensured that all members of the family have physical and mental health concerns that they will have to live with for a lifetime.
And while we’re speaking about ‘compassion’, let’s look at the Morrison Coalition Government’s mandating the ‘cashless welfare card’ for social security recipients in certain ‘trial’ areas around Australia. We also discussed the Morrison Government’s punitive social security system in October 2019, questioning the implied claims that those on welfare couldn’t manage their measly payments without ‘big brother’. While it is probably true that some who collect social security do act in a manner that the Pentecostal Christians in the government consider inappropriate, it’s also true to say that Australians didn’t elect any Government to be the sole determiner of individuals’ moral or ethical views. If this was the case, the Marriage Equality legislation would never have been voted on, let alone passed by Parliament.
The Saturday Paper recently highlighted another concerning aspect of the ‘cashless welfare card’ – the potential dangers of those subject to domestic violence or coercion having ‘big brother’ telling them what they can spend ‘their’ money on
Dr Karen Williams, a psychiatrist who specialises in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and works with many women who have survived long-term abuse, says the cashless card, “mimics exactly what a financial abuser and coercive controller would do”.
Williams points out that women fleeing abuse are at high risk of poverty and homelessness, and that these things in themselves can be used as reasons to take a woman’s children. She says that the welfare system, far from supporting women to leave abusers, is “actively working to keep marginalised women in the relationship while gaslighting her by telling her she should leave.”
Morrison’s Coalition Government has promoted assistance to those who need to escape violent or abusive relationships. The assistance includes $1500 in cash, $3500 in goods and services and a $2000 no interest loan. Women who subsequently are deemed eligible for the single parent payment and live in the ‘wrong’ postcode are made to go onto the ‘cashless welfare card’ – which according to a number of sources is almost impossible to get off (even if you move away from the ‘trial’ areas). As observed in The Saturday Paper
There is a contradiction here. Australia is spending $1.1 billion to help women escape violent and abusive relationships, the country is moving towards legislating against coercive control. Yet if a woman lives in a cashless welfare trial site and manages to leave her partner, she can find the abuse replicated by the very government that claims to want to help her.
Considering these trials have been running for 14 years with little evidence that they achieve their original purpose – preventing welfare recipients spending their money on alcohol, drugs or gambling – it’s hard to see why so many vulnerable women are still being forced to use the cards.
Potentially the reason why vulnerable women are being forced to use the ‘cashless welfare card’ and the Murugappan family are still detained at the ‘pleasure’ of the Minister is the Coalition’s predilection for punitive punishment rather than working with people to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Making the assumption that those on various social security payments in certain areas of the country are all ‘up to no good’ despite the lack of hard evidence that should easily be apparent in a ‘trial’ that has lasted 14 years to date is criminal and has potentially cost the lives of some women who haven’t been able to escape violence financially. The hospitalisation of a 3-year-old girl with serious health issues despite the parents seeking assistance from contracted staff with claimed medical qualifications working for the government is a horrible indictment and stain on our national history. To claim that these measures are in place to stop tragic outcomes is duplicitous at best and certainly not evidenced in the reality.
Neither side of politics can honestly claim to be above blame here. Both the Coalition and the Labor Party have played their part in the increasingly inhumane immigration and welfare practices imposed in the name of ‘compassion’. Both side of politics have weaponised human lives. It needs to stop.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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