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How much is that doggy in the window?

Turnbull’s budget is almost identical to Abbott’s 2014 monstrosity. Let’s just bed down that fact right up front. All the hopeful expectations of change, of the turd being polished good, of a more grown up, less nasty, spiteful government, of economic literacy, environmental friendless and social progressiveness have all been washed away with Turnbull’s ideological tide. Of course the press gallery are not saying any of this, but they wouldn’t, would they? They didn’t exactly complain about Abbott’s budget either.

Rather than focus on the terribleness and unfairness of Turnbull’s budget, since I’ve already been there and done that in May 2014, I want to pay particular attention to one of the new, back of the envelope policies announced this year: the work-for-the-dole $4 an hour intern program. Or, what I will henceforth be referring to as modern slavery.

This policy treats unemployed young people like pets in a pet store. Actually, that’s unfair because pets are paid for by their owners. I’m trying to think of a circumstance where someone is paid to take a pet on, but I can’t think of one, so no, it’s actually worse than treating young people as pets.

The employer is getting paid at least $1,000 per modern slave. The young person only has to be unemployed for a very short time (6 months) to then be forced to take lessons in presentation skills and punctuality. And then they are ‘placed’ in a workplace and paid $4 an hour on top of their Newstart Allowance.

So what does this tell us about the Liberal government’s perception of the young unemployed? Does it tell us that they understand young people just want their start in life, and are desperate to be given an opportunity to work in a company who values their contribution? No. Does it imply that the Liberal government understands that young people need access to quality education, whether it be at university or at a credible vocational education provider in order to have the skills an employer is going to value? Nope. Does it show us that the Liberal government recognises that the economy isn’t providing young people with enough jobs for each of them to find their place? Again, no. What does it tell us exactly?

It tells us this: that the Liberals think there are plenty of jobs for all the young people in society, but that those young people are too dirty, badly dressed, lazy and running late to be bothered taking those jobs. It tells us that the Liberals think that $4 an hour is fair compensation for hard work, and that the young person should be grateful to the employer for letting their badly presented, smelly, can’t tell the time sack of hopelessness into an employer’s shiny gift of a company. It also tells us that the Liberals think young people should take any job they are given, whether it is in the industry they want to work in or not, and that if they complain they’re just job snobs who would prefer to be at home on the Playstation shoving Cheezles in their mouths.

Think about this for a moment. What sort of choice will these modern slaves have in the workplace they get placed into? Will they be able to specify that the workplace needs to be close to their home or will they be travelling for hours, at cost to themselves, to turn up wherever they’re told to? Will they be given experience in a job-type of their interest, or will they be expected to work in a field they never plan to work in again, which provides them with zero useful experience for the rest of their careers? What if they’re trying to care for children or other family members, or trying to study while they work? Will they have the choice of the hours they take or should they be grateful to the employer deeming to give them access to whatever hours the employer chooses, whether the young person is available at that time or not? What about the job seeker who actually wants the position that is filled by a modern slave? If there is work to be done, why the hell isn’t there someone doing it, and being paid for it already? Is this just a plot by the Liberal government to undermine, and eventually destroy the minimum wage altogether, along with workers’ rights, including to health and safety legislation, and of course, unions, until employees lose any sort of agency whatsoever in their work, and for employers to get paid as nice-little-earner-for-the-boys bonus to take on modern slaves? Yes, I would say it is.

Why the hell aren’t I hearing these questions being asked of Michaelia screeching-Cash and Malcolm turd-face-Turnbull by our hopeless, complicit mainstream media? So many questions and we’re not getting any answers.

Young people aren’t slaves who can be bought, traded and ‘placed’ by the government and their rich mates. Young people have hopes and dreams and aspirations and the drive to contribute. Young people are Australia’s future. I guess the only answer is to get rid of this policy by getting rid of this awful government. Let’s kick this mob out.


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  1. Phil

    Fully agree with you Victoria. The young did not develop the system they have been born into – they had no choice – yet they are branded, as you say, as lazy, uncommunicative, unpunctual as if these were the reasons underpinning high levels of youth unemployment.

    The government has no idea how to create jobs. Its blinded by ideology that means it will not fund public infrastructure works, but then even if it did, most the work would go to machines anyway. The government has abandoned Australian youth who have become a millstone around the government’s neck and for that they will be punished and blamed and vilified and forced to work as virtual slaves – in this you are so right Victoria.

    The government has abandoned Australian youth to the mobs that run government underwritten private providers like the corrupt job agencies, and equally corrupt private training agencies.

    That screaming banshee Michaelia Cash can scream all she wants – and she surely likes to scream about government ‘rules’ and regulation – but her government is all bullshit – it has allowed corruption to permeate every privatised service provider – and this youth ‘jobs’ scam will be no different – only after millions of dollars have been ripped from the government by corrupt business intern practices, and only after thousands of young people have been demoralised and punished for being young and unemployed, will this stinking rotten government be forced to admit they f*cked up – by then of course they won’t care, job done, election won, all power to their corporate mates and wealth to their personal coffers. God How I hate this government.

  2. Gilly

    So it has no effect whoever is the Parliamentary leader of the Liberals, the agenda is firmly set and policed by the IPA.

  3. Carol Taylor

    Even some conservatives and employer groups have told the government that the dole is too low, that by raising this, it will enable an unemployed to be able to present themselves adequately for job interviews. It raised more than one eyebrow to see that the government went in the opposite direction, lowering the dole instead. How typical of this government – rob a person of the means to do something, then point the finger when they don’t or can’t.

  4. JJ

    Also they have no WorkCover….some sort of start in life that is if you get seriously injured with no protection! Ghastly & grotesque…sounds like something from a 19th Century Workhouse.

  5. DisablednDesperate

    When I first saw checkouts automated, self serve everything I worried about where people would get their start like my age did in ancient times. I was right to be concerned. It is an abysmal result. I worry for your young. They have always been scapegoats but this is horrendous.

  6. Jack Russell

    The last time they tried this back in the 80’s it was a gigantic failure, and it will be again this time too. What nobody seems to be mentioning is the sheer number of businesses who rorted this system in the most unethical way . . . and abused the kids who had no way of seeking redress for wages withheld, or for being sacked for untruthful reasons once the government bonus was paid so they could hire another poor sod for another ride on the money merry-go-round. It was criminal then and it will be criminal this time as well.

  7. Wam

    Questions asked depend on political will to put the questions into the mouths of the autocueists.
    The rabbott was a master of the simple question that requires a complicated answer perfect for the morning shows.
    Why are we buying from the French whose nuclear submarine plans have been on the go since 2007, with the first built in 2018 then converted to deisel then built by 4000 French employees in France? When does SA 4000 employees (hahaha) kick in?
    If labor’s economy was so bad how could the loonies and the coalition vote to double the debt and spend untold billions on planes and ships? Why introduce bribes to customs to jump cues?
    The new coalition Medicare if you cannot afford an X-ray ask a parent or a friend to chip in or go without?
    ps Phil god is firmly on malsco’s team.

  8. mark

    Cowards who bully.mark

  9. Peter F

    A significant point made by Cash is that, to get the government assistance, the employer has to prove that the was an existing vacancy. i.e. that this was not to CREATE jobs, but just to fill existing vacancies with cheap (for the employer) labour. They somehow believe (or do they?) that this will not put ‘more costly’ staff out of work

  10. Terry2

    If the coalition get control of both Houses – and let’s not kid ourselves, that is what this Double Dissolution is all about – all of the horrors of the 2014 budget plus a few more will be visited on an unsuspecting electorate.

    The wishlist of the IPA will become policy and big business will assume control of our democracy.

    Good luck Australia !

  11. FreeThinker

    Meanwhile, this government is further harassing people with mental health issues, and who have been on the Disability Pension Payment for some time, to review them and try move them on to the inadequate, unsustainable allowance New Start, thus hooking them into its futile work obligations, or similarly so, those in their late 50s or early 60s who have fallen into poor health, some of whom are now not able to work full time, or at all perhaps because of physical injuries.

    This government understands little about the growth of structural unemployment in this country, and its relationship to their own neb-liberalist policies of contracting out jobs overseas ( Telstra ) , or shrinking our existing industries ( loss of jobs in the car industry).

    The reality is, true full employment ( not the bogus unemployment figures touted by the government) in these times, is not really possible.

    A civilised society would adequately cater for its emerging youth demographic in the training and employment area, and also for those those departing the employment sphere and/ or those with disabilities which more limited capacities for working.

    Providing a viable living allowance to those later groups would help greatly, and rather than condemning them as ‘ work shy’ as this government does, recognising that full time full employment in Australian society is not possible, and these people are magnanimously stepping back to allow the emerging youth demographic to step into the paid employment sphere. The money spent on harassment and compliance obligations against older workers, or those on the DSP, could be better deployed in skilling and supporting disadvantaged youth in their quest to obtain employment.

    It won’t happen with this government.

    It is useful to interpret their ‘ Jobs and Growth ‘ mantra, as meaning jobs and growth for those who already have the most, that is, those who have the most in terms of both cultural capital and economic resources.

  12. Jake

    Athena: Good old ( Serial Mom ) Michaelia Cash is at it again; she is hilarious in a kind of slapstick used car salesperson way.

  13. Kronomex

    If they can make an X on a piece of paper and use an ATM then that’s all the LNP requires from the public school education system. Only the elite should be allowed to access higher education levels because they will be required to rule the peons and serfs.

  14. Athena

    “The reality is, true full employment ( not the bogus unemployment figures touted by the government) in these times, is not really possible.”

    I disagree with that. The government should be offering full employment to everyone who wants it, and funding it themselves, to pay a living wage and provide training opportunities. There are tons of jobs that require doing within the public service. Successive governments at both federal and state levels have been cutting staff in the public service for years. If new work stopped coming in tomorrow, I’ve got enough in backed up projects to keep me going at least 12 months. There are many public servants in the same position. There’s also a lot of work that can be performed by unskilled labour that is just being left undone because we’re too busy. Medical, scientific and technical staff in my workplace are doing their own admin work because our admin staff got cut years ago. Who decided that it is cheaper to pay a specialist doctor to perform admin work? CSIRO has lost some 1400 staff in recent times. The work those scientists could be doing could be creating a lot more jobs and some new industries for us. Then when all those previously unemployed people have some discretionary income, they will be creating more jobs by their spending. Australia is importing skilled labour because of the lack of investment in training here. The government could be doing that. Instead they’re expecting the private sector to do the government’s job, except the private sector isn’t stupid enough to sink money into it when government policies ensure that many people remain below the poverty line and have nothing to spend. If the government insists on getting back to a budget surplus, the situation will become even worse.

    Bill Mitchell writes more about the job guarantee here:

    What is a Job Guarantee?

  15. Athena

    “A significant point made by Cash is that, to get the government assistance, the employer has to prove that the was an existing vacancy. i.e. that this was not to CREATE jobs, but just to fill existing vacancies with cheap (for the employer) labour. They somehow believe (or do they?) that this will not put ‘more costly’ staff out of work”

    Peter F, what existing vacancy? The official number of unemployed outnumbers advertised vacancies by at least 6:1. Many businesses fill vacancies without needing to advertise.

  16. Adrianne Haddow

    The LNP don’t even bother to pretend they are forming policy for the majority of Australians any more.

    You are correct in calling their new version of unemployed bashing for what it is, ‘modern slavery’.

    I’ve always considered work for the dole to be just what it is, unpaid labour for greedy businesses who have jobs they need done but don’t want to pay for an employee’s labour.

    I’m thoroughly sick of the rhetoric that paints our youth as lazy and indolent when jobs are farmed out to 457 visa holders so the lazy profit-maximising employers don’t have to invest in training the staff they need.

  17. FreeThinker

    Athena, I don’t disagree with what you say ……. about what could or should be the case if the role of government in generating employment was taken seriously in this country.

    Having read the detailed analysis of Bill Mitchell, I note it was written 3 years ago in 2013 under the Labor Government. Not much has changed. But under this appalling LNP administration, the situation on employment has only got worse. It will take some considerable time to turn around, but only if there is the political will, a change of government, and only if Labor has a freer hand to govern.

    All advanced post-industrial societies are experiencing major headaches with high rates youth employment, and most do better than we do on this. Some of this involves higher rates of education and post school training, and the funding to match …… when involves levels of expenditure and investment in the total youth cohort ( not just those who attend private schools) than occurs in contemporary Australia. In some disadvantaged communities youth unemployment is 20, 30 or up to 50 percent. Some of these young people are more at risk of moving into a crime pathway, and perhaps prisons. Since our prisons are private enterprise operations now, out-sourced by government, LNP operatives may even be pleased at such developments on two grounds : prisons provide private sector employment, and second, law and order issues have long been a staple of electioneering by conservative government’s.

    A shift of focus would also require greater focus on the teaching of cultural studies throughout schooling to assist young people better understand other cultures than their own. It would require better encouragements by school systems to teach real competency in other languages. It would involve more extensive student exchanges in secondary and tertiary levels, than currently occur, and the funding and staffing to go with that.

    There are many forms of new employment that can flow from that development. For example where are the small army of Mandarin-speaking Australian nationals who are going to host the Chinese tourist middle class millions coming to this country ? Though successive governments have treated foreign students as a ‘ cash cow’ and universities as a ‘ cost ‘ rather than an investment in building national cultural capital and knowledge skills,

    The sheer inequity of employment across the Australian community, and its government-sponsored continued socioeconomic structuring towards those who have more than most, as a growing issue in this country.

  18. helvityni

    I’m trying to decide who I detest most: Cash, Abetz, Morrison, or Dutton…

    I lump them all together and decide to be fair and will dislike them all equally; fair crack of the whip, I say.

  19. Athena

    Free Thinker, capitalism requires a high level of unemployment to be successful. Hence the slashing of job opportunities and the raising of retirement age. European nations are going to find themselves in big trouble soon when people retire and there are insufficient numbers of trained, experienced young people to step into their shoes. A necessary side effect of neo-liberalism is hopelessness. People who feel hopeless won’t fight back against the injustices. So there is plenty more to come if we don’t get a progressive government. Bill Mitchell is still promoting the job guarantee. I chose that post because it gave an explanation of what it is. A couple of days ago Mitchell also pointed out why neither of the major parties is fit to govern. The ALP is being duped by neo-liberal philosophy too, just not quite so much as the conservatives. But there are numerous ALP politicians who promote neo-liberal principles, whether they realise it or not.

  20. JayAccuse

    Helvityni, sadly for Australia, any List of Detestibles surely must include many others who have earned contempt: Abbott, Andrews, Bernardi, B. Bishop, Brandis, Christensen, Corman, Hunt, Nicolic, Pyne, Sinodinos, et al. Ideological inbreeding produced this political clan that reminds me of the “hillfolk” in the old film Deliverance – in Question Time, riffs of Duelling Banjos play mental accompaniment to their bastardly theatrics. I would have included B Joyce; however, how can anyone take him seriously enough to detest?

  21. King1394

    Having just spent 6 months working as a Green Army supervisor with nine young people, I am horrified by the failure of our society to find ways to provide proper employment and training for them. All the youngsters were aged between 17 and 25. Three travelled from the coast, about 100 k per day. They all did the work well although for some it was not an area of interest. They were paid less than minimum wage, though more than Work for the Dole. They all would make excellent employees if given a chance. Unfortunately, none had any opportunities likely to open up for them as a result of the Green Army work. I hate to think that probably all of them will now be shunted into another pointless and underpaid ‘job training opportunity’.

    There is plenty of work needing to be done – just imagine if the needs of the community for aged care support, general asset maintenance for community facilities, massive amounts of environmental work from clear-ups to tree planting etc were being done. However, governments at all levels cry poor, and private employers are not willing to employ workers properly any more. So many jobs have been made casual and the better positions are short-term contracts. My own position was a contract, now finished, and I am back on Newstart too.

  22. Slapsy

    When I heard this policy (internships) announced during the budget speech I thought,great,at last they are doing something for the young job are right,after delving deeper into the details,it is nothing more than slave labour and will result in the loss of real jobs.
    Another worrying aspect of it is the comments regarding a lack of workers compensation entitlement. Workers compensation is administered by the states,so I doubt that the federal government is in any position to make a decision of that sort. Under most states laws they would certainly be classified as a worker,and would be covered somewhere in the relevent states laws.

  23. keerti

    They tried this crap in the late seventies and early eighties. The way it worked then was that employer$$ created a revolving door employment system. Every time they (employers) passed GO they’d collect. Employ overworked slave for 6 months, if she was pretty some employers even tried abusing her, then sack them and take on the next poor sucker! Number of permanent jobs created by this schemebugger all. Number of imnstances of abuse of workers (underpaying of wages, sexually, illegal sackings etc…lots!)

  24. keerti

    So long as governments think that jobs can only be created by big projects and large amounts of capital, preferably overseas capital we will continue to have high unemployment. What this really creates is short term fixes, insecurity and (nowadays) casualisation. Encouraging people to be self reliant and supporting them in it would be a part of a better approach. I lived through a long period of high unemployment during the late eighties and early nineties. During that time I knew many people on meagre dole money who learned how to find cash work and as a result lived quite well.It could be said that the cash economy helped maintain a decent standard of living for those in it and also kept money circulating (the lack of which is the major issue at present). A sensible government would try to encourage and legitimise this by giving the dole as a minimum wage and allowing people to top up their income. The lnp would rather blame the victim than fix the problem.

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