By Christian Marx
Australia is rapidly going down the toilet. Stagnating wages, chronic unemployment and increasingly tenuous work has resulted in a lower standard of living for the middle-class. Even worse off are the poor. Not content with introducing a draconian job agency for profit program, the architects of this sick neoliberal ideology have also introduced “robo debt” … which is basically stealing from the most disadvantaged.
Meanwhile, the biggest parasites receive massive subsidies and handouts from the government. On top of this the wealthiest, such as Gina Rinehart, donate millions of dollars to right-wing lobby groups in the hope of influencing both government and the unwitting general public. In the 2016/17 financial year alone, Rinehart donated a whopping 4.5 million to the fascist, climate-denying “think tank” the Institute of Public Affairs. This dangerous organisation is behind much of the LNP policy manifesto. They seek to erode worker’s rights and enhance big business power. They also seek to smash state services and privatise all state-owned services, including the ABC.
The Big 4 banks in Australia are estimated to get a whopping 5 billion worth of subsidies per year.
At the other end of the scale, those thrown on the unemployment scrapheap are forced to subsist on Newstart “benefits” which are at a shockingly low $545.80 per fortnight for a single unemployed person, and a paltry $590.40 a fortnight for an adult with children. This is less than $300 a week. This is well below the Henderson poverty line which is approx $400 a week.
The cost of rentals in this country would eat up most of an unemployed person’s expenses. According to Anglicare in 2017, under 1% of 67,000 rental properties were affordable to someone on a pension or unemployment benefits!
How the hell can a person on benefits survive in a rental crisis such as this? The answer is that they can`t! Many are couch-surfing at friends or relative’s houses, skipping meals and in many cases end up homeless and living on the streets. It is obscene that in a wealthy country such as Australia, billions can be handed over to mining companies, billions more on defence, and supporting that war monstrosity known as the USA. Billions more on multinational companies that continue to offshore more and more jobs to India and China for slave labour.
If you are not sickened by this current criminal waste of money, given to those with all the wealth and power, perhaps you are in a coma!
Both sides of politics will not raise Newstart, the pension or disability benefits unless they are publicly exposed and all their subsidies to big business are open to public scrutiny. Bill Shorten has merely mentioned that Newstart will be “looked at.” For Christ’s sake, man, do something! Neoliberalism is ensuring millions are now sliding into poverty. It is time for you to stand up and do something for the people of Australia! What would Gough Whitlam do?!
Fortunately, some grass roots pressure groups have had a big effect in lobbying their local councils. Many councils have heard the real horror stories directly from real people suffering every day as a direct result of government inaction in raising pensions and unemployment benefits. Anti-Poverty Network under the tireless leadership of Pas Forgione have relentlessly pushed for change and a voice for the disadvantaged. Owen Bennet from Australian Unemployment Workers Union is also making an impact in Melbourne.
The LNP are a dead loss when it comes to a compassionate society. Their whole ideology reeks of Classical Liberalism (aka survival of the fittest). Labor were a once great party who championed the rights of the poor and made huge strides towards lessening poverty and economic inequality. Where are you, Labor? The onus is on you, Bill Shorten and co! What would Gough do? We all know the answer to this. He would say “It’s time … time to raise Newstart!”
Below is the video made by the Anti-Poverty Network, recreating the classic Labor election song from 1972, “It`s Time.”
Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.