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People told me to read between the lines, but I didn’t see anything written there!

“Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says a Coalition policy to pay long-term unemployed young people who find a job up to $15,500 is “a sensible investment”.


Mr Abbott has released a policy, similar to one he took to the 2010 election, to pay a bonus to those under 30 years old who have been on unemployment benefits for more than a year and then find work.


If the employee stays in a job for 12 months, they would receive an initial $2,000 bonus; if they stay in the job for two years, a Coalition government would pay them another $4,500″ (The ABC).

As someone who taught Drama, I often find it necessary to teach kids about subtext. What’s implicit, but not actually said. “But if it’s not actually said, how do you know it’s there?”

Some want to know but that’s not always easy to answer without providing an example.

Fortunately, Tony Abbott is giving us heaps of examples over the past few weeks. His policy on the unemployed reeks of subtext.

“We’ll pay you lazy bastards a bonus if you get off your spotty backsides, find a job and keep it for twelve months,” says the subtext, “because we know that you’re just not trying.”

And, of course, when in spite of this generous incentive, some people still haven’t found work, it’ll be because they just aren’t trying. After all, didn’t we offer them a bonus. And, like performance pay for teachers, that should be all that’s needed.

Someone did suggest that it might be more effective to pay the bonus to employers to encourage them to actually take on workers, but there’s a problem with that – it might actually work! This is far better.

Of course, one could also ask where the money’s coming from, but that just seems petty. And it’s Labor that’s sent the country broke, we’re the ones committing to a surplus, but not for ten years. So what if the budget doesn’t balance in our first term.

Besides, we haven’t made many “promises”, we’ve stated our “aspirations”, we’ve only said we “intend”, we only say whatever the situation it’d be worse under Labor, we have “plans” and we support motherhood – look at our Parental Leave Scheme. And anyway, most of it we didn’t write down, and we told you that it’s only the written stuff that counts.

What have we written down? It’s all in our booklet. For example, we have a whole page on Health, including a whole paragraph on Mental Health, where we say we will work with people to make it better.

Ah, yes, subtext is a wonderful thing!


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