OPED: Originally part of a letter to the Editor, Australian Financial Review.
Everyone seems to talk about the cost of Centrelink payments. Very few consider the cost of not having them or the price of having them forcibly funnelled into the coffers of a select few corporates and their vested interests. It’s time to end that ignorance.
There are over 5 million Australians receiving government payments of one kind or another and we think it would be interesting and refreshing to see just one media outlet in Australia do the simple maths on the benefit of welfare recipients’ spending in the wider community and its relationship to the stability of local markets and the national economy at large.
Where does the money go? To whom? What does it do once it gets there?
Outside of the social cohesion and stability paying income support payments provide us all, what is the actual fiscal return on the 160 billion dollar welfare spend to the Australian public at large? Donuts and a kinetic massage for any reporter willing to take these questions on!
We would also like to see the costings and forcecasts, were this multi billion dollar spending suddenly curtailed or reduced through welfare austerity measures.
We would like to know what the dollar cost to the average working person and to Australia’s fiscal bottom line of the added fees and charges would be, were this bulk of local capital suddenly funnelled through a single corporation, like the one currently earmarked by the LNP to manage it all for us, at their profit?
We are also compelled to ask, just where is the ‘great fiscal burden and loss’ to the national economy the politicians are lamenting about and Murdoch media are constantly harping on about? What burden? What cost? Where is the strain or burden these dillitants say is created or being borne by the Australian public?
Isn’t it the case that the national welfare budget is not just supporting those families receiving welfare payments directly – rather that they are also supporting the recipients’ landlords, local farmers, shopping centres, remedial agencies, doctors, clinics, day care centres, social welfare workers, mental health nurses and services, car park operators, small businesses and so, actually supporting the lives of regular working people all across Australia to whom this money is ultimately being given, and given back to?
When viewed in this perspective, social security [welfare] recipients are in fact just third-party distributors of the welfare budget, they don’t keep payments, they spend them.
And unlike tax frauds and tax avoiding corporations, people receiving benefits actually pay their taxes. They contribute to the tax pool every day. A majority of recipients are also in part time or casualised work and so contribute to the economy via income taxes as well.
Yet all we see in media and LNP government rhetoric, is more one-eyed marginalisation, assaulting people on welfare payments as social burdens, without recognising the job they do, the role they play or the purpose they innately have in balancing Australia’s luxuries with its necessities. These people are not including them in the larger picture of Australian economy or viewing them outside the undignified view of ‘dependants’ upon it.
In media this week, the phrase ‘long term welfare dependency’ is being used as a slogan and slur yet again, when actual longer term dependency upon income support is simply an inevitable and unavoidable reality for many people with disabilities, for the aged or very young or anyone unemployable or whose life circumstances simply do not allow a scope for a life in paid employment. How is it their fault? How is this “damaging’ us when they remain, suppliers of the cash income we depend on too?
Our stay-at-home child and disability carers as well, are saving Australia a living fortune in costs that could and would otherwise be imposed upon taxpayers directly without benefit. So how much more do you expect of them? What is it exactly that you expect from recipients in general? Flagellating verbal gratitude stands on every street corner? Recipients bowing to you for the simple privilege of not living in a cardboard box and contributing to your social stability, welfare and social security?
It is also fact, that the majority of our national welfare spending budget heads to the aged and disabled. Often the most experienced and disciplined in need and in spending habits.
If we are to rein in their payments or place them onto CDC and enforce payments 30% below the poverty line, what are we going to do next? Do we make soylent green of them all in order to buy into the LNP ruse and lie that we will all somehow save a few dollars by doing so?
Surely it will cost us more as a nation financially morally and socially to allow living conditions of our most needy to deteriorate any further than they already have or worse; cost us more than money can pay in our abandonment of our principles and our people. Abject poverty is expensive!
Like most, we are very much in support of fraud reduction and accountability of all services – however this is true only for us, when and where the same is balanced with equal and active focus and recognition of the need to target the issues of corporate welfare, ministerial entitlements rorting and wider tax avoidance scams our lax tax law permit. Issues that, when it comes to the real dollars and cents count, cost this country far more in capital loss and moral fortitude than any welfare recipient or welfare program ever could.
What’s good for one section of the community is good for all … or its not good..at all.
The simple fact is income support recipients are fellow and equal human beings, and a such, have an intrinsic value in and worth to this country – every single person from every single walk of life; every different need set. For people on welfare payments, this is also true as it relates to the wider community and taxation. We pay taxes on everything and we are basically just the middle men in the distribution of a portion of the collective taxes. We make daily decisions about spending of those taxes we receive in benefits, decisions that the government cannot or would not trust itself to address – and ought not to! In the main, we do that exceedingly well, despite the hype.
It is clear after months and years of intentional targeting and media and government bullying, that the LNP simply want to end that role and purpose Centrelink recipients have held for so long. They want to remove our value and usefulness to society as anonymous distributors, and as their own reports conclude will occur under forced income management, they want to create dependants, a generation of people incapable of self regulation, decision making and self management.
They wish to alter or to end the policy of our fair and relatively anonymous tax distribution system, and instead seek to control it and the cash economy in Australia and are willing to do or say anything to anyone standing in their way.
They are using the media and the manipulation of people’s prejudices against welfare recipients as a mask and scapegoat to do it.
Don’t let them.
Time to wake up.
So informed, you are responsible.
This article was originally published on The Say No Seven Facebook page.