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“It’s Called Newstart Not Nostart, So We Don’t Need To Raise It…”

Ok, I tried to get an interview with one of the Federal Ministers who’ve been telling us that there’s no need to raise the amount that unemployed people are getting, but apparently they’re all too busy ensuring that people have jobs… Not everyone, mind you, just the people who are aspirational and having a go… Oh, and their mates, of course.

Eventually, after much ringing around, I was able to get an interview with someone who works for Centrelink. Yes, I know. It’s a sign of my privilege and contacts that I was able to actually speak to a Centrelink worker, but I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m an Anglo male, so I can do or say things that would get anyone else into trouble. The Centrelink person spoke on condition that I keep him (or her) anonymous and don’t expose any links he (or she) may have to any human living or dead. In fact, like any Centrelink worker, any resemblance with any real person is pure coincidence. For the purpose of this, we shall call him (or her), “Worker”.

Me: Now, a number of politicians have been suggesting that two thirds of people are on Newstart for less than a year. Is this true?

Worker: Yes.

Me: So, most people find a job within a year?

Worker: No, we just find a way to kick them off benefits by doing things like sending them Robodebt notices and while they’re on the phone waiting to sort that out, they usually miss a job interview so we can suspend their benefits. 

Me: Are you admitting that Robodebt is just a scam to punish the unemployed?

Worker: Not at all. It’s a perfectly reasonable way of ensuring that welfare expenditure has been well-spent. 

Me: But it’s totally flawed and it frequently targets people who don’t really owe the money.

Worker: Yes. What was your question?

Me: Is that fair?

Worker: No, of course not. I just told you it’s all about ensuring welfare expenditure is well-spent and spending it on the unemployed is really a bit of a waste.  

Me: But you just admitted it wasn’t fair…

Worker: I don’t understand why you’re having trouble understanding that point. What’s fairness got to do with it? Are you a socialist or something?

Me: I’m just saying that it seems strange that you admit that it’s unfair when there have been suggestions that Robodebt letters have led to suicides and that nobody responsible seems to care…

Worker: That’s a shocking accusation!

Me: So how would you refute it?

Worker: Now, stop trying to verbal me. I said it was a shocking accusation, I never said that it wasn’t true. 

Me: So you have no problem with the idea that the policies you implement are causing suicides? 

Worker: Look, I’m just doing what I can to help the government get expenditure down so we can balance the budget. I don’t make policy. I just follow orders and if what I’m doing helps to reduce the number of unemployed then that should help reduce the bottom line.

Me: So how does what you’re doing help anyone get a job?

Worker: I never said it did. I just said it reduced the number of unemployed.

Me: Are you telling me that this is a deliberate policy to drive people to suicide?

Worker: That’s a shocking accusation!

Me: So you’re denying that you… Oh! Forget it.

Worker: Yes, that’s what most people end up saying!

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10 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    hmm, struggling to find this one funny Rossleigh 🙁

    (I am sure you know that )

  2. Rossleigh

    It’s not meant to be funny… when people say it’s funny because it’s true they’re not talking about politics…

  3. johno

    Reduce military spending to increase newstart spending, simple as.

  4. RomeoCharlie29

    Having just in the past few days tried, and failed, to navigate both the voice and online portals to Centrelink, I can totally relate to this, and I am both an adult white male and moderately computer literate. The Centrelink phone service, when you get there, offers you about a dozen options for queries relating to 2019 budget measures before finally allowing you to give a voice response to an invitation to state your subject, the voice then misinterprets your answer (twice in my case) at which point I gave up. How someone without my skills copes with these systems is beyond me. To hear the Minister on 7.30 saying he wanted people to have a beautiful experience when responding to a robodebt issue made me fall about laughing. His absolute ignorance of what his department is doing, or his willingness to overlook it, confirms the general view of his incompetence. Along with his “empathy challenged” colleagues he has no place in government.

    I am desperately hoping the High Court challenge to Gladys Liu and J Friedanegg,is upheld. Two by-elections would make an interesting dynamic.

  5. wam

    What have we become? We accept a government who sets up artificial intelligence to decide who to hound for debt.
    Who subsidises the most voracious collector’s of workers’ cash private health. My big sister is with bupa. She has had a battle with bladder cancer over the last 5 months and is constantly paying hundreds of dollars in excess. She seems like a car with comprehensive insurance the cost of repairs increases with the confession of insurance, except car insurance pays???
    It is no accident that the biggest advertisers on cable seem to be insurance companies.

    To survive and service their profits, they have be surreptitiously bought back one policy at a time.

  6. RosemaryJ36

    In case it helps, you can write a letter, save it in PDF and upload it on MyGov.

  7. JudithW

    I’m ready to ask the PM for a job – but I wonder how long before I choked on the hipocracy.

  8. Alan Nosworthy

    Thank you for that suggestion Rosemary. There is no guarantee of comprehension or a meaningful reply, but the paper trail could prove to be valuable.

  9. Jack sprat

    People you don’t get it,for capitalism to work the unemployed must be punished to instill disicipline into the labour force .with full employment capital loses it power as it has to compete with itself to obtain workers .This is why the system is designed to have a pool of unemployed people who are usually vilified by the ruling capitalist class. Has there ever been a capitalist country in the world with true full employment ?.The powers to be know this it’s economics 101 ,so they hoodwink the masses with platitudes and schemes that achieve nothing .

  10. Harry

    Jack Sprat: “Has there ever been a capitalist country in the world with true full employment ?.”

    Yes, Australia for one, back in the 60’s and 70’s! In those times unemployment rarely rose above the so called “frictional” (irreducible minimum) of 2%.

    Then after the mid 70’s neoliberal ideology took hold and we are still blighted by this vicious ideology. Worth reading the blog I link to below.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/

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