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It is not them or us, they are us.

Australians have the highest median wealth per adult in the world ($233,504). We have the second highest average wealth ($428,250). We are a mere 0.36% of the world’s adult population but we account for 3.78% of the world’s top 1% wealthiest. The only nation with a more lopsided share of the top 1% is Switzerland.

So why is it that an estimated 2,265,000 people or 12.8% of all people are living below the internationally accepted poverty line used to measure financial hardship in wealthy countries?

Australia’s household wealth per adult grew by 2.6 per cent in 2012. Wages in 2013 grew by 2.6%. On the other hand, since the mid 1990s, Newstart has gone from just below 50% of the median household income to now around 30% – which is an alarming $74pw below the poverty line .

Over a third (37%) of people whose main income is social security are living below the poverty line, including 52% of people in households on Newstart Allowance. The low level of this payment means that when unemployment goes up, more people are thrown into poverty. The Newstart Allowance has not been increased in real terms since 1994 so households relying on it have been falling further behind community living standards and into poverty.

There are almost 600,000 children living in families below the poverty line. About half of those children are in sole parent families, and one quarter of people in sole parent families are living below the poverty line.

In October 2012, the Australian Council of Social Service released a report urging the Commonwealth and state governments to take steps in their next Budgets to reduce poverty, by increasing income support for those in the deepest poverty, strengthening employment services for long-term unemployed people, and easing the high cost of housing for people on low incomes who rent privately.

People on social security and those in very low paid work receive Rent Assistance to help with housing costs, but at a maximum of $70 a week this is less than a third of typical rents for flats in capital cities and mining towns. 62% of Newstart recipients pay over 30% of their income in housing costs, placing them under “housing stress”.

“High priority should be given in the next Federal Budget to raising the Newstart Allowance by $50 per week for single people and sole parents, and the cuts to income support for sole parents should be reversed or at least delayed.”

There is a $149 per week gap between Newstart Allowance and pensions. In 1980, the Age and Disability Support Pensions and the Allowance payments such as Newstart and Widow Allowance were the same, at $58 a week. The Harmer Pension review of 2009 resulted in an increase to pensions but not to Newstart. Pensions increased by $32 a week. The Henry Taxation Review recommended that the same increase be given to Allowance recipients, which would equate to $50 a week in 2012.

Pensions are indexed in a different manner to Newstart. Pensions are indexed to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE), the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Cost of Living Index – whichever is greater. Newstart is only indexed to the CPI. In September 2011, the MTAWE increase was 4% while the CPI increase was 2.5%, which resulted in an increase of $10 for pensions and $6 for Newstart.

Newstart and other payments are indexed twice yearly with the CPI, meaning that they are linked to increases in prices, rather than wages. That means they fall behind increases in community living standards. While the CPI rose by 17% between 2005 and 2011, average wages rose by 23%.

Newstart is less than half of the minimum wage in Australia. While minimum wage is $606, Newstart is $246 – 40% of minimum wage. Even taking account of income tax, a single unemployed person would double their disposable income if they got a job at the minimum wage. So there is scope to increase it without eroding work incentives.

As Dr David Morawetz, Director Social Justice Fund, says

“In Australia, we might not have the level of abject poverty that one sees in developing countries, and we have only a fraction of the world’s 1.3 billion poor. But in a country as wealthy and as lucky as ours, it is a travesty that there are still so many people living in poverty. We can do better.

Poverty is bad for our social relationships, and for our sense of community. It is bad for business. Most of all, it is bad for those who are experiencing it: for their sense of self-worth, for their physical well-being, and perhaps most importantly for their children, for our future generations. We all need to do something about it.”

David Thompson, from Jobs Australia adds

A lack of money inspires not just shame, anxiety, and occasionally stoic resignation, but also a powerful sense that things could be different. The basic decencies of respectful encounters with institutions, which can cost nothing, matter a lot. Many people living in poverty have immense reserves of energy and drive to make a decent living for themselves, and a future for their children, if only they are given the right chances.

Dr John Falzon, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council said

Our problem in Australia is not the “idleness of the poor.” Our problem is inequality. This is a social question, not a question of behaviour. We do irreparable harm when we turn it into a question of individual behaviour, blaming people for their own poverty. It is a matter of deep shame for a wealthy nation like ours that our unemployment benefits, for example, have been kept deliberately low as a means of humiliating the very people they were originally designed to assist.

Charities like the St Vincent de Paul Society will always be there for the people who are waging a daily battle from below the poverty line, but the message we are hearing is that people do not want charity. They want justice. And we support them in this struggle for their rights.

We support helping people into the paid workforce. The time has come, however, to abandon the foolish notion that forcing them into deeper poverty improves their chances of employment. You don’t build people up by putting them down. You don’t help them get work by forcing them into poverty.

We stand with all who are trying to create a good society; a society that does not accept the scourge of rising inequality and exclusion from the essentials of life; a society that does not humiliate people. New passions are springing up. They point to glaring contradictions. They also offer the promise that another kind of society is possible, and can be created collectively under the guiding stars of struggle and hope.

Even the Business Council of Australia (BCA) argues the Newstart payment ‘itself now presents a barrier to employment and risks entrenching poverty.’

It is difficult to be accurate about what a $50/week increase in Newstart would cost but it has been estimated it will cost taxpayers anywhere between $8 billion and $15 billion over the forward estimates.

While Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey tell us that spending $22 billion on Tony’s paid parental leave scheme, or $12 billion on US made jets that experts say are dodgy and will be obsolete before we ever see them, or over $10 billion on Operation Sovereign Borders, or over $3 billion in handouts to polluters, or countless billions on roads, are all good investments, I would ask them to consider the proven productivity gains from lifting people out of poverty. I would also ask them to consider the health benefits and consequent savings. I would ask them to consider the benefits of needs based education funding so children born into poverty have some chance of achieving their potential.

If we can’t appeal to your humanity, surely you can understand that economically it makes much more sense to increase the purchasing power of the masses, which will drive demand, which will create jobs, which will increase production, which will increase profits. Every cent that goes to a poor person will be recycled into the economy. Increased profits to billionaires go to off-shore tax havens.


I haven’t seen a film for 8-9 years. / It’s $12 – / I just can’t. / I have no social life/unless it’s free./I can’t afford to go to a café / and drink coffee – / I just can’t. / I tried putting $3 a day into my budget. I felt a little more human, / existing within society… / I had to stop doing it,/I couldn’t live anymore./Like being invited out to dinner / or a friend saying, / ‘do you want to catch up for a meal?’ I just can’t, no. / I miss it. Tracey

Dole bludger

I’m desperate for money./ If there were any jobs…/ …I’d be started at 9 o’clock this morning./ I have to tell everyone I’m a dole bludger and / I don’t have any money./ Nobody wants to know a dole bludger. / My family thinks I’m still working./ I got sacked four years ago. / I didn’t tell them I’m a dole bludger. / Mum would get upset,/ she wants my future to be secure. /To be able to tell my family that I’ve got a job…./ a proper job…. / Nobody wants to know a / dole bludger. Bettina


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  1. David

    Well Kaye Lee, how much are you prepared to forego to pay for this.. either directly “as a sponsor” or indirectly with increased taxes?

  2. passum2013

    Try this all alleged dole bludgers go to centrelink and ask could they set you up in business ie Lawn mowing with financial support and equipment Just to see what they say . You would become self employed and have the fall back on centrelink in the event of failure.

  3. nickthiwerspoon

    Meanwhile, the $250 per WEEK that unemployed person must survive on for EVERYTHING is what The Cane Toad will spend on a single LUNCH with his mates.

  4. john921fraser


    Sorry Kaye Lee but here in Queensland the big lug we have as a Treasurer is telling us that each and everyone of us owes $15,000 and I imagine Australia wide we probably owe a similar amount.

    Didn't you get the Murdoch report that we are broke ?

    It must be time for Aussies who realise just how broke they are started walking around with a hangdog expression on their faces, those who realise they are only partly broke could wail and scratch the skin on their faces while those who don't owe any money ………. could just muck off.

    No one is interested in them …. least of all the tyrannical dictator who is in bed with them and big business.

    Meanwhile the moron Abbott can just get on with attacking people for walking around with a hangdog expression and kicking those who wail and scratch the skin on their faces.

    Apparently the latest news is that overseas students are climbing over themselves to come and get an education in a country that is broke …. go figure.

    Probably looking to get a degree in economics.

  5. doctorrob54

    Really good job,again.Thanks very much Kaye.

  6. donwreford

    Kaye Lee, incredible bit of research, you are nothing short of a marvel to have done so much work.

  7. Delia Lord

    Passum2013 are you serious? Ask Centre Link to set you up in a business with financial support and equipment?????? Don’t know what planet you live on. In the real world they would die laughing and escort you to the nearest exit.

  8. Stephen Tardrew

    Thank you Kaye: this is an issue larger than life for many.

    I worked with youth, homeliness, families, drug and alcohol addiction; domestic violence victims and service veterans and the stories of untold suffering and injustice rarely make it into the public domain. All we get is lazy dole bludgers; lack of personal responsibility; get a job; get your family to help you when families often abandon victims until all escape routes disappear. Often all they get is New Start to survive on. Many have mental health problems, poor numeracy and literacy skills and a general inability to reason rationally. Furthermore they are easily exploitable as well.

    Blame dysfunctional kids no matter they were physically, sexually and mentally abused; denigrate domestic violence victims because they are complicit and they should just walk away even though they must consider kids while friends and relatives gang up on them and furthermore perpetrators often get access to the kids. The disable and the extra costs that go with special needs is no where near adequately covered by a disability pension: the number of addicted physically abused men who turn to drugs and alcohol and women who were sexually abused by family, who are sometimes the ones that get them addicted, until they turn to prostitution feeling they are worthless dregs of society. Simple sound bites for ignorant people. And what about those middle aged workers who loose their jobs and have families to support when they are a heartbeat away from homelessness. Our prisons are often homes for individuals with mental health problems and various personality disorders. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    New Start is an abomination because it causes substantially more damage to those who are already suffering often through no fault of their own. And we walk around acting like this is the great benevolent society full of giveaways to bludgers. Talk to anyone who works in welfare, metal health or homelessness and many of you will be shocked at the lack of help and resources.

    Every politician should have to live in a poor suburb on New Start to find out exactly how well off the bludgers are. Lies disinformation and victim blame are turned against those who, more often than not, did not create their realities. The are victims.

    We often treat our pets better than we treat those who have been marginalized by difficult life circumstances.

  9. Callie Ge

    I don’t know where these figures come from or who calculates them but I can tell you right now that People on New Start, Sole Parents, Disability/age pensions, the real amount that they pay in rent is more like 70% + of their income. I am finally in disability housing after waiting over 6 years for a wheel chair friendly house, 30% of my income goes on rent now. Before I moved in here 6 months ago I was renting privately in a horrible suburb in North Brisbane. It was a grotty old house that could only have been improved with a can of petrol and a match,I was surrounded by neighbors from hell and only ever left the house to go to the DR or hospital, but as a single disabled parent with 4 kids I was in no position to be fussy, my Disability pension at the time was $ 726- P/F My Rent was $ 620 P/F I was paying 84% of my income in rent, If it had not been for my Family Tax benefit and my Oldest Daughter paying board we would have been in serious trouble. The $60- P/F pension increase that the Labor Govt. granted seemed like a god send, I cried when I thought about having a small buffer between having nothing in my purse after payday to maybe having $20- but I received nothing because as soon as it was granted my landlord increased my rent by $30- a week. So my pension increase went into that greedy bastards pocket. If you can find a decent flat in Sydney , Brisbane or Melbourne for less than $300- P/W I would like to see it. The charities are not there for people anymore, st vinnies and the salvos will give you one food parcel a month ( usually enough for 2 meals , no meat) & grocery vouchers are a thing of the past. I only needed to ask for assistance a few times .but there are people that are existing on nothing, One of my few nice neighbors , one fortnight after she had paid her rent, and registered her car she had $1- left for the fortnight for food.

  10. Gina

    Love your research skills.

    Poverty strikes not only people on welfare payments, but also those living on a low income stream from their superannuation; not all of them, but there are many getting amounts equal to newstart.
    The rich prosper each day; the poor barely survive.
    I wonder what the correlation is; if any, between living poorly and suicide? I fear for people on the brink of such a tragedy.

  11. Gregory T

    I’ve posted this sometime ago, but it seems even more relevant now.

    ‘If income, wealth, and economic position are also political resources and they are distributed unequally, then how can citizens be political equals?

    And if citizens cannot be political equals, how is democracy to exist?’

    Robert Alan Dahl is the Sterling Professor emeritus of political science at Yale University

  12. The Trees

    Thank you Kaye.Your blogs are rapidly becoming my favourite daily read.
    The unequal opportunites for many is an issue the LNP LUMPS do not seem to be even aware off.
    Which political party initiated the gradual decrease in provision of public housing???
    One of my ‘soapboxes ‘is wishing we could control population growth throughout the world.

  13. jagman48

    Thank you Kay Lee. And thank you David for your contribution to a very important discussion. It is a real mess that causes great suffering for those on small pensions. My wife and I have our own house and a small amount of superanuation that we can draw on. The pension does not cover electric, gas, insurance, registration, fuel etc. But we are the lucky ones.

  14. donwreford

    With regard to population growth comment, many people feel they have no significance in the society they live in, or are lonely, having a baby is a means of reducing loneliness and having significance, the fact that many people feel they “want to get away from it” meaning they have people saturation
    Few jobs give many people satisfaction, hence to find significance of purpose to live is found in climbing Mount Everest, drugs, shopping and having babies and so on..

  15. Kaye Lee

    It is worth pointing out that Joe Hockey axed the tax on superannuation earnings over $100,000 per year. This was a boon to the 16,000 wealthiest superannuees which cost the budget $313 million. The government cut tax for these few high-income earners with more than $2 million in their nest egg while removing a tax cut worth up to $500 on super for 3.6 million low-income workers, including 2.1 million women, the very people most likely to end up on the aged pension.

    He also removed the new rules tightening up on fringe benefits for car leases. This to me is unfathomable. The new rules just meant that once every 5 years people had to fill in a log book to justify their business usage car claim so it was only people who were incorrectly claiming business use that would be affected. This cost the budget $1.8 billion.

    I wouldn’t trust this government with my kids pocket money let alone the keys to the treasury. It’s like watching them spend every cent on lollies while the family starves.

  16. Stephen Tardrew

    Another issue worth considering is that in any population there is a percentage of people, who through hereditary, genetic, propensities, disruptive familial and social circumstances, will immediately be marginalized since birth. The idea that everyone has equal opportunity is garbage. Part of living in a rational and compassionate democracy is developing the statistical tools to evaluate need based upon imposed circumstances and then providing the support to help all citizens live adequate lives.

    The path from employment to unemployment to depression is well documented yet we still vilify those who are a product of an unequal and inequitable system. In an intelligent society the role is to logically trace the causal contributors to dysfunction and develop adequate means to deal justly with such circumstances. A small cohort of so called bludgers are projected as representative of the majority. If you understand psychology, sociology and psychiatry you will find there are inevitably causal contributors to each and every person who lives in hardship.

    Thinking you know a persons circumstances does not reflect the facts of that persons life conditions. The statement that he/she is a bludger is an ignorant uneducated persons way of vilifying those they are prejudiced against and don’t wish to understand regardless of the facts. Many people hide contributing factors through embarrassment and fear of judgement.

    Fear, judgement, blame and retribution are used to absolve us from rational responsibility to understand the nature of circumstances that contribute to poverty and dysfunction.

  17. Chickenman

    How much are you prepared to forego to pay for a squadron of fighter jets, David?
    What are you prepared to sacrifice so that companies that exploit the mineral wealth of the nation can be exempted from as much taxation as possible and then given massive amounts of corporate welfare?
    Should unemployed people, students and refugees be forced to suffer so that capital and power can be further concentrated in those who claim their ludicrous privileges as their birthright? Are you okay with that, David?

  18. Möbius Ecko

    Let’s not forget that a significant chunk of this supposed Labor induced budget emergency most of the papers in a massive group think are individually headlining today as their exclusive belongs to Hockey and this government. Not one MSM outlet is reporting that part of it, all the emphasis is on Hockey having to rescue Australia from dire straits because of a budget mess supposedly left by the previous government.

    Hockey’s more significant mess in just six months is nowhere to be seen in the mainstream, and you have to go to rare online financial sources to find the data and facts on it.

  19. Hotspringer

    I was paying well over 30% of my income as a wage-slave, hard to see how anyone could survive on the dole. Unfortunately governments (and not only the Tea Party style) have been neglecting social housing for a very long time. The taxpayer actually subsidises landlords and rentiers. And now our leaders seem bent on starving the unfortunate to pay for joint fighters, parental benefits for the rich, rebates to media moguls and mining magnates. But i guess when people choose to be unemployed, sick, handicapped, old, they are among the undeserving poor and must be made to suffer.

  20. robyn


  21. Anomander

    Thank you yet again Kaye.

    What angers me the most is when the conservatives throw around the term “wealth transfer” as though it’s a bad thing, something dreamed-up by those evil Socialists to rob average Australians of their hard-earned cash and hand it to the dole bludgers, single-mothers, and refugees, all of whom apparently live in the lap of luxury. The two stories at the end of the article perfectly encapsulate the daily grind of those struggling in poverty, people we have so easily forsaken in the name of economics.

    Or that dreaded term “class warfare”, as though those without access to food, accommodate, money or essential services are doing so out of spite. The very concept that those struggling to survive and to make ends meet, have the means to engage in a war with the wealthy in their big houses, flash cars, mega yachts and to affect their essential European vacation?

    To believe either is delusional, but it shows how effective the conservative propaganda machine is, and how stupid, egotistical and uncaring, a large percentage of our society has become.

  22. john921fraser


    "Centrelink Employee: Barry we have a report of you receiving a “gift” worth $3,000. Do you have anything to say about why you did not mention this on your dole form?

    Mr O’Farrell: I never received such a gift, I deny all knowledge of ever receiving any gift.

    Centrelink Employee: Barry; here is the delivery notice and a note written by you to the person who gave you the gift where you thank them for the gift. Do you deny that this is your hand writing?

    Mr O’Farrell: That is my writing, but I cannot remember receiving the gift, I was very busy at that time.

    Centrelink Employee: Really Barry do you expect us to believe that – you have wilfully defrauded the government. I wonder what else you have forgotten to tell the department ?

    Mr O’Farrell: It was an oversight on my part, I’m sorry it won’t happen again.

    Centrelink Employee: I’m glad that you have admitted you guilt but your payments have been cancelled while we investigate your case and proceed with the fraud charges against you.

    If Mr Barry O’Farrell was the average older aged Newstart recipient he would be long term unemployed, renting a house and have little to no additional resources to see him through these difficulties. There is a good chance he would lose his house and he and his family would join the many homeless in N.S.W.

    If the conviction of fraud is proven in the court, which it will be since he has admitted receiving the gift, his chances of gaining employment have diminished. Who wants to employ a convicted criminal?

    Such are the differences in our classless society."

    Read more @ North Coast Voices :

  23. Pingback: It is not them or us, they are us. « The Australian Independent Media Network « A Whole Lot Older, A Little Bit Wiser ...

  24. Terry2

    Interesting Background Briefing on ABC RN

    Dealing essentially with the increasing cost of power and the growing dichotomy between Renewable Energy advocates and the fossil fuel lobby but perhaps the most disturbing thing is that the two Ministers most directly involved (Greg Hunt and Ian Macfarlane) declined to participate in this discussion.
    I wonder why, is it because they are under instructions not to appear on ABC programs ?

  25. Tim

    Great article. And being a student from a low income background I have little monetary support and must survive on welfare, its not easy. And jobs for uni students, especially when you had move across the country for education, its not easy to find, few will hire you, even with experience, most only have a job because they had it when they were high school. Although I feel more for those on New start and the pension those guys the ones doing it real tough. If anything they should have been given a boost! Its disgusting to see a government treat their own people like this, to divide the people and team the middle class against the poor. But that is what you get when you vote fascist… I mean LNP…

  26. Möbius Ecko

    Terry2 there was a piece on RN this morning on that subject. The speaker said that a study had been done in the rising costs of electricity that the industry is blaming on the increase of renewables and the renewable energy target. Something this government agrees with them on.

    The study found that though the significant increase in renewables was a factor, it was a small one. The largest factor in the increases in non-renewable energy costs were the networking charges imposed by the energy companies.

  27. Stephen Tardrew

    April 26, 2014 • 7:30 pm

    David I would hazard a guess that most contributors here would willingly pay more tax because that is why we post here. We actually believe in social justice. All my working life, and I was not that well off, I contributed to families overseas, at a minimum cost, yet with substantial positive out comes. Many have posted reasonable ideas for redistribution of wealth and there are suitable models for such. Evidence demonstrates that more equitable societies are healthier and have less social dysfunction.

    We have one of the worsts records for philanthropy in the first world and it is the attitude of the wealthy that is primarily represented in the media. Being wealthy beyond a certain point does not improve happiness. Redistribution can be empirically proven to have substantial benefits. If you want links just ask and I will oblige.

  28. Keitha Granville

    Those who have power over the money in this country have totally lost sight of the real world – that is assuming they had sight of it, some may and some may never have. They would have no more chance of knowing how to manage on an ordinary wage in an ordinary house with an ordianry mortgage, children at school , bills, supermarketing, washing etc than they would of flying to the moon so we have no chance that they will grasp the enormity of the problem of Newstart, family tax, parenting payment and all the other welfare anomalies that exist. My husband and I are also more fortunate than some although he is on a pension with a tiny pot of super in case of disasters, and I still have some casual work for a few more years – on my tax return it says low income earner for which I get a rebate and yet I don’t get a low income healthcare card because I earn too much. How is that sensible in anyone’s language? But we survive. I have grave fears for anyone who is trying to survive JUST on a pension, or any support for that matter and I try to help where I can. If those at the top gave up 10% of their income, or wealth, they could improve the lives of thousands of fellow Australians. What chance of that ?

  29. Rebecca-sue Smith

    as a 50 year old long time unemployed, I understand the system, my husband is on newstart, my son on the youth allowance, I am disabled with a disabilty support pension, Today I had an arguement with my sister, of how I was wasting my life away by staying at home doing nothing, she doesn’t understand, how could she, she has never been unemployed, sure it would be great to leave home and … well what could we do.. we cant afford maccas,, Movie,, maybe once a year, dinner out at a real posh place, out of the question. what they spend in a meal is the equivelent of a a third of our weekly budget, 100 dollars for food drink etc for three of us, maybe if we have pulled in our finances we might just have 150 to pay, thats a lucky week, I am debt free but then I have no car, when my old car gave up the ghost after 19 years of service I could not afford to replace it, we do not insure our home and contents, nor do we have live insurance, funeral insurance, health insurance, we do not go on holidays,
    I took an advance on my payment, that means 50 dollars less each fortnight, just so I could be with my sister for her birthday, I will be paying for that in sausages and fishfingers for the rest of the year, but it was important, somethign I felt I had to do, Things were so much worse when I was on newstart, my mental health was so low I contemplated hurting myself. I tried so many years before I applied for the disabled pension, and it was only after years of trying to keep a job, my paranoia in the job and the anxiety involved makes it vertually impossible for me to keep a job even if I get one, as one employer said.. we think this job is not a good fit for you. It was the same day I went to the senior to report work place harrasment. I lasted one month in that job, since being on the disabled pension we live a bit better, but we are still under the poverty line, I have healed a bit and are not as house bound as I was at one time. I communicate regularily on a website, but, my son.. who doesn’t remember me or my husband in jobs, cannot see meaning in his existance, can not see a future, does not want to get a drivers licence after all we have no car, I see no hope for myself, to get a job but he is 20 he should be a bright young man with prospects, but he cannot see a future, I worry most for him.

  30. john921fraser


    @Stephen Tradrew

    I will not "happily pay more tax" when the moron Abbott takes away taxes that big mining are currently paying.

    I will not "happily pay more tax" when it will go to mining Corporations for "Direct Action".

    I will not "happily pay more tax" when the weakest in Australia are being penalised.

    I understand what you are saying you just have to be a little more xxx (explicit) about it.

  31. Stephen Tardrew

    April 27, 2014 • 11:08 am

    I agree John you however you do know what I mean. You know my attitude towards neoconservatism and my often posted alternatives leading towards a cashless resourced based economy envisaged by Jacques Fresco and the intermediate stage of “steady state economy” articulated by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill as well as many others. What I am trying to point out is that we are for redistribution and equity but some of us might need to makes small sacrifice to change things. The forces railed against us are substantial and I don’t want to rule out any possibility. A period of adjustment may be necessary to convince others that equitable distribution of wealth benefits all. As long as it is peaceful and non-violent I don’t care how we get there but get there we must to avoid environmental and social disaster. I really don’t want to quibble about the details because there are many ways to reform taxation that are legitimate.

    Unfortunately many people are being, and may be harmed further, on the path from corptocracy and oligarchy to a true representative democracy. Social transformations are often painful and of course the disenfranchised suffer most.

  32. Stephen Tardrew

    “I agree with you John”: another bumble by Mr stumble: apologies.

  33. Sasha

    Hmmm 30% of an income on rent…I don’t think so. My husband and I are both on Disability Pensions for genuine reasons and I will point out that one entire pension payment, and $50 from the other payment, each fortnight makes the payment on our mortgage. We have a small mortgage in this day and age and the repayments are actually only about two thirds of what we would have to pay in rent to have our 4 bedroom house in our suburb. We had our mortgage before we ended up on the pension, luckily, otherwise I have no idea where we would be living as it is impossible to save money when you are living fortnight to fortnight so we would never be able to raise a bond. We have recently gone 7 months with no hot water system after it died of old age and we had no way of raising the $1500 to get the smallest system to replace our broken one. Luckily we have good friends and one of them just replaced it for us and we can pay them back at $20 a week….which is still hard to manage. I know more than a few people who are reliant on Centrelink for their income and we are all in the same boat. I would love to return to work but I would need a very understanding employer who was flexible enough to roll with the punches my disease delivers and there aren’t many around these days. Then there is the fact that to be able to even go to a job interview you need smart clothes and I can’t afford to go and spend money I don’t have to go and buy clothes for a ten minute interview. Even $50 is too much as I spend that every two weeks on medications and can’t spare it. I am constantly paying off the utility bills and under threat of disconnection but I can’t pay them with money I don’t have. I have two kids with health issues and I am having to cancel hospital appointments regularly because I can’t afford to park or can’t afford to put fuel in my car to get their in the first place. At least the hospital my husband has to attend regularly has a train station right next to it so we can catch the train in for his appointments otherwise we would be having to cancel his appointments also. The way I see it the current government is trying to kill off the people reliant on Centrelink benefits to live. They are already downtrodden and now they are just being ground into the dirt just that bit more and maybe Abbott and Hockey are hoping that a lot of them will take their own lives to end their misery. I think no one should be allowed to enter politics unless they have lived on Centrelink benefits for at least 2-5 years. And I mean live…they should have to rent a house, buy a car, raise children, have medical issues and exist as everyone else on benefits has to. No relief, no security and no life……..just existence!

  34. Kaye Lee

    I appreciate all the personal experiences people are sharing on this story and can only hope that this dose of reality is read by others.

    George Brandis and Tim Wilson have told us to shine a light on dark places and to stand up to bullies. That is very hard for victims who are engaged in a struggle for survival to do. It is up to all of us to help in this fight.

    WE should decide how our tax dollars are spent and I want to know how many people would rather buy fighter jets at the expense of the pension? I want to know how many people are in favour of tony’s “signature PPL policy” when we have 600,000 children living in poverty? I want to know who thinks we should give polluters gifts and then charge people to go to the doctor to treat the diseases their pollution causes. I want to know how many people think Tony should buy a fleet of new luxury planes for himself so he can transport hundreds of businessmen and tame journalists around the world to take photos while slashing funding to charities. I want to know who thinks that spending over $200,000 a pop on orange life rafts that get used once is a good investment. I want to know how Tim Wilson got a job paying $320,000 a year with no interview, no qualifications, no experience, in fact no job – it was created for him and gifted to him. I want to know who thinks it was ok for Joe Hockey to immediately steal $8.8 billion from our reserves to gamble on the Aussie dollar going down, a decision that hugely inflates our deficit (duh) and costs us $300 million a year in interest.

    Seriously, we need to change the locks on the safe while we teach this government about the qualities that make this country a great nation.

  35. john921fraser


    @Stephen Tardrew.

    I enjoy reading your posts.

    Imagine if I didn't comprehend what you were saying ?

    Most likely I would throw a banana skin in front of Mr Stumble.

  36. donwreford

    So revealing, Abbott, did not give us this information?

  37. donwreford

    If Barry, could not remember a $3000.00, bottle of wine bottled with a label that is the same as his birth year, and has no recollection, presumable because he would have a inflow of so many gifts, that this $3000.00, bottle of wine would be of little significance.
    ABC, News Breakfast, presenters Virginia Trioli, Michael Rowland, both stated they had never have had a Grange bottle of red, I think they are fairly affluent, and they were clear never have had this wine other than a glass of Grange and thought this wine was fairly average or musty I think they said.
    The fact that a politician is unable to remember becomes a problem in so far as how much else has he forgotten? many now would wonder if he has a problem with his brain? or he is what no one wants to think, corrupt?

  38. th!nk

    @David: I dunno, if it were actually done right an actual income redistribution tax would really mainly hit the super-wealthy hard and I imagine people like Kaye Lee might even benefit, having 0 clue about the author’s financial situation other than the fact they’re a writer for a left-wing site. But, I don’t have stats on hand – that said, if I were hit by it? I could deal with that if it’s giving someone shelter, honestly. Most people who would be hit by this kind of thing are being selfish if they think they’re using/they need that money more than someone who needs it for shelter. The entire point of taxes, generally, are to rectify the fact people are selfish and greedy so that things they or others need can actually be provided/maintained – hospitals, education, infrastructure. “People are assholes” is something I think the libertarian movement readily forgets when they say the free market can take care of everything.

    Of course whether an wealth redistribution tax is feasible in a country that has sells off all of its natural resources and assets every time the libs come into power is another question – the nordic countries succeed in this because they have those assets, so whether we have enough left to do it (especially with resistance to any form of getting our money’s worth for them like a tax on the larger mining companies) is hard to say.

  39. Lee

    Studies have shown that children living in lower socio-economic areas have more illness, more learning difficulties, more behaviour problems and are more likely to be abused than children raised in higher socio-economic areas.

    A friend of mine is a teacher in a public high school in a low socio-economic area. At the start of this school year in her year 8 class of 25 students, approx 25% of them had the literacy skills of year 1 and 2 students. Two of them could not spell their first name, neither is an ESL child and one of them has a first name consisting of only 4 letters. She admits the system has failed them. They should not have been graduated to high school.

    Another friend teaching in a low socio-economic area said that in a lot of cases she sees, the parents of many of these kids have poor literacy skills and are therefore unable to detect the literacy problems in their children. Some of the students in her school are absent on average for one term per year. By the time they reach year 10 they have missed 2.5 years of their schooling.

    What hope do these kids have? It is not their fault they have been born to parents with problems.

    And David, I don’t mind paying tax at all. I’ve never complained about the amount of tax I have to pay. That money pays for a lot of services that we are fortunate to have. Would you like to live in a third world country without clean water to drink, no electricity, no public housing, where children have to work to help support their poverty-entrenched family rather than go to school and where basic health care is out of reach unless one has a good income? Studies have shown that both rich and poor benefit when the gap between rich and poor is decreased. Conservatives are a greedy, selfish bunch.

  40. donwreford

    If the mining tax has generated little or no money, what concern is it as a political issue that requires to be scrapped especially as the mining sector is on the decline, making whatever tax owed insignificant, other than another attack on labor for point scoring?

  41. donwreford

    I sugest the empathy you show for those who are lower socio and economic status, have not only a learning problem often created by the language by the use of the culture of the parents, that is used and are exasperated by assumed idea of what is their reality endorsed by assumptions and are shy of doubt.
    The creation of the third world is endorsed as being similar to the lower class citizens in the first world, when we speak of would you like to live in the third world? this is because the first world in essence the colonial powers, who are largely still working as a colonial power through institutes such as the stock exchange, I suggest we need to redefine how we not only ourselves but more importantly change what the third world is.

  42. Kaye Lee

    Parents in low income families often get home form a day’s work to face shopping, cooking, cleaning. There is no time or energy left over from the constant struggle of existence. When Christopher Pyne talks about “more parental involvement” in schools he shows he truly doesn’t have a clue what life is like for some people.

  43. Jeanette Lewis

    Great article, what about mentioning “the working poor”. When politicians sprout average wage of $70,000 or so, I really wonder where the get these figures. Before retiring, the staff I managed would earn no more than $25000,(similar incomes for supermarket casual employees) if they didn’t miss any days. All were on casual contracts. By the time tax was paid, medicare levy paid even with the small raising of the taxable threshold, take home pay not a great deal higher than Newstart, PLUS they no longer qualified for a Health Care Card, (and now soon to be added a medical co-payment) as a consequence of all of this, no real incentive to stay working. I might add that at that time I earned only a little more than the employees. From my perspective at that time it was more about keeping my job, with my employer pushing for me to go, when I eventually retired he repaced me with a man with a $70000 wage who did less than me and didn’t know the first thing about training staff, he lasted only 18mths.

    As for making the retirement age 70, what fiction is this. Last week I asked a paving man doing work for me, on his knees laying the pavers how he felt about working until 70, well of course he answered that unlikely he could and that he would have to change his business somehow. I can tell anyone who reads this that physical labour at 70 is in this governments dreams.

  44. Lee

    “Parents in low income families often get home form a day’s work to face shopping, cooking, cleaning. There is no time or energy left over from the constant struggle of existence. When Christopher Pyne talks about “more parental involvement” in schools he shows he truly doesn’t have a clue what life is like for some people.”

    Pyne just wants to save money on salaries by replacing it with freebie labour. Parents who work don’t have time to help. Some aren’t suitable for some tasks, e.g. a parent with a reading disability is not suitable for listening to the kids read. I can’t remember where I read it recently, but there was an article about some types of parental assistance in schools causing more problems than helping. Does anyone recall it?

  45. Lee

    “As for making the retirement age 70, what fiction is this. Last week I asked a paving man doing work for me, on his knees laying the pavers how he felt about working until 70, well of course he answered that unlikely he could and that he would have to change his business somehow. I can tell anyone who reads this that physical labour at 70 is in this governments dreams.”

    A couple of years ago when my bathroom was renovated, the electrician told me that he chose his trade according to the ability to work until retirement. He was 56yo at the time and said many of the men who were apprentices at the same time as him, but in more physically demanding trades, were now unable to work in their trade due to injuries that they have received on the job. Now with the Abbott government slashing all the ‘red tape’ that reduces the responsibility of employers to provide a safe working environment, how many more preventable accidents will we see in workplaces?

  46. Terry2


    In its first year the MRRT generated only $200 million after the mining companies used all their offsets but, according to the government’s own estimates the revenues that will be generated from her on in are :

    2013/14 $700 million
    2014/15 $ 1 billion.
    2015/16 $ 1.4 billion
    2016/17 $ 2.2 billion

    I doubt that Mr Abbott or Mr Hockey will wish to discuss this.

  47. donwreford

    The guy I have as my builder, is 33 years of age, he is suffering from collapsed knee syndrome and no longer can work with the knees, he has a huge stomach that is a problem, later on and gets severe depression, he eats pretty down size stuff, he breathes cement dust and so on, I give him another 10 years before he no longer is able to work, he will become a casualty of the system and a expensive individual for the State.

  48. donwreford

    The system will collapse from the inward struggle, the leaders are in the elite that are out of contact and touch with the people.

  49. Fiona Farley

    I ponder also the wisdom of increasing the age at which a pension can be accessed, to 70 when today many of the over 50’s who have lost jobs are struggling to find one. What hope do you really think those unemployed at 60 will have of finding suitable paid work that they can sustain until they are 70. I currently work in the international development sector in developing countries, but am worried about my prospects of finding suitable work if and when I return to Australia. I am happy to work for as long as possible but like many other professionals would like to think my experience counted for something in terms of adding skills to australia’s workforce but fear that this is unlikely to happen once I am over 60.

    It bothers me working on poverty reduction that Australia has such a poverty problem – this should not be the situation for such a developed nation. I also have witnessed over the past 10 years the decline in the focus on making our society one that is socially just and equitable – and where heaven forbid is compassion.

    I realise the need for countries to maintain a healthy economy but this should not be at the expense of creating an even bigger gap between the rich and the poor, which doesn’t benefit the nation’s future in the long term.

  50. donwreford

    If the population of Australia becomes economically better off they threaten the elite politicians and those in power, have a preference that money generated here is sent abroad and are more comfortable to stay in power with a less educated and economic impoverished population.

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