The role of government should be to identify, prioritise, and deal with the challenges we face.
But do you ever hear a government politician even admit that we have any problems?
Instead, we get to pay for them to advertise the great things they have done/are doing/will do if you re-elect them twice more.
Even the drought is seen as normal. It will rain one day. Give them a bit of money in the mean time until the prayers kick in and get some publicly funded empathy training on how to look like you care.
They claim credit for things that haven’t happened yet – like re-announcing the same infrastructure spending over and over or using promises and accounting tricks to pretend we are reducing emissions when they are clearly going up.
We only hear what they think is good news.
It was pretty horrifying to read that, in Australia, the old-age relative income poverty rate is 23%. It is even more shocking when compared to the OECD average of 14%.
How can you brag about continual growth for decades which has resulted in almost a quarter of our older citizens living in poverty? Where is this growth going?
The OECD report also blows away some of the myths about the “burden” of Australia’s aging population.
“Australia is ageing more slowly than the OECD average. Given the relatively limited involvement of the government in pensions and the slower ageing process, there is less of an issue of public finance pressure than in many other OECD countries. Public expenditure on pensions is projected to remain well below half of that of the OECD average.”
The main reason for that is our compulsory superannuation scheme. Yet at every turn, the Coalition have fought against this and still seek to undermine it. The weasel word avoidance of answering any questions about the scheduled increases to the superannuation guarantee do not bode well.
The NAB Consumer Anxiety Index (a measure of consumer concern about their future spending and savings), rose 2.9 points over the September quarter with worries over health expenses, government policy and the ability to fund retirement, rising most.
Concerns over the cost of living continue to be the single biggest driver of overall anxiety with 60% of Australians saying that utilities and groceries added most to their cost of living expenses over the past 3 months.
Young people aged 18-29 are stressed about rent and other debt. In the 30-49 age group, it’s mortgages and children. Older people are worried about bills and home improvements.
By income, far more consumers in the lowest earning group were impacted by rents and those in the highest income group by their mortgages.
“Any improvements in incomes are in part being funnelled into paying down debt and this is expected to continue over the next 12 months. Debt remains a concern for many Australians, with more than 1 in 5 of all Australian consumers indicating they had spent more than they earned in the past 3 months.”
In this sort of environment, low interest rates are not driving investment and tax cuts aren’t driving spending.
We hear a lot about Australia’s comparative ranking in standardised testing which inevitably leads to calls from conservatives to get back to basics mixed in with a lot of teacher bashing.
But you won’t hear them admitting that Australia has the third highest hospital admission rates for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a rate that is almost twice the OECD average.
Who, or what, do we blame for that? Why aren’t we making this a priority to reduce?
In Australia, almost two-thirds of adults (65%) are overweight or obese, and over a third of children aged 5-9 (36%) are overweight. Furthermore, the proportion of Australians overweight or obese has been gradually increasing in recent decades.
Yet try to introduce anything meaningful to address that, other than advertising campaigns, and the sugar lobby or the fast food industry will tell us that it would be too costly to them.
Time and again, in so many areas, we see the government creating problems that don’t exist in order to deflect from or ignore the ones that do.
This isn’t strong governance. It is an abrogation of responsibility in favour of imaging.
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