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Perhaps Minister Tudge needs experience at being unemployed

By Kate Zizys, National Branch Coordinator, AUWU

Recently the fortune of sponsorship allowed me to attend two stakeholder events that dealt with federal budget measures, specifically changes around Australia’s social welfare safety net. The Australian Council of Social Service ‘Post Budget Breakfast’, was essentially an information and discussion opportunity. ACOSS played host to Minister Scott Morrison as well as an observant panel of policy experts. Morrison left before any of them spoke. The Committee for Economic Development of Australia ‘Strengthening Australia’s Social Services Safety Net’, along with their major sponsor (and 20% of the attendees) SERCO, hosted Minister Alan Tudge in a full tilt funding primer.

The events were quite different in style and setting. ACOSS situated their breakfast in a university venue while CEDA positioned itself in the Sydney Hilton. ACOSS served up sausages and eggs and self-serve urns of hot beverage while CEDA served up big chunks of Osso Bucco dripping in rich sauce on a bed of saffron rice. A desert emulating minimalist painting followed and on flowed the fine wines throughout the entire show. Evidently it is standard to start drinking at 11.30am if you are fishing for business and networking with Government.

Both events shared the similarity of having an excess of security officers present, all sporting 2wire-Dhook earpieces with inline microphones and sharp tailored coats, CIA style, assuredly concealing standard issue fight-club weapons. They seemed slightly ridiculous, the men they were protecting appeared lackluster in their aura of celebrity and power and were more in danger of a pie in the face than any genuine risk. Morrison and Tudge both came across as glib and self-satisfied. They struggled with their projections of sympathy and concern, neither man could find quite the right tempo when they spoke of those who are unemployed, both hit on something between derisive frustration and absolute contempt.

During his speech at the ACOSS breakfast Morrison was gleeful to the point of rubbing his hands together when he mentioned the PaTH Program. This pho-internship program operates much like the failed Work For The Dole scheme and will see young people interning for employment experience as part of their mutual obligation for receiving $218 per week to independently live on, up to the age of 25. This means PaTH is paid at $5.50 per hour. One of the providers is Subway, a fast food franchise. Another is the Australian Police Force. They probably need more police to patrol these kind of high risk events.

At the CEDA event Mr Tudge spoke about some inferential statistics regarding future projections that seemed unrelated to fiscal reality. He claimed that welfare recipients receive $49,000 a year in payments but on later questioning he was forced to redact that misleading tout. The Governments surreal social welfare policy measures were explained to the attendees in further weasel words. Representatives of major banks, property developers, pharmaceutical companies and recruitment agencies were treated to some heavy prose regarding the life and times of your average unemployed person. The PR company Thought Broker also attended, they are bound to land a contract, this kind of Schild und Schwert policy is going to be tough to sell. In truth these policies will effect every one of us, they are an offense to civil liberties, undermine our safety net, target vulnerable people and typecast all unemployed as criminal, violent and addicted. Considering the average working, renting Joe is close on two or three paychecks away from potential homelessness it is surprising there are so few speaking out against these proposals.

Both Morrison and Tudge also spoke of the English and New Zealand welfare model and how successfully it’s all going in those countries, when in fact homelessness in New Zealand is a growing problem and the English social welfare system is actually killing people, (see Callums List.org). These comments made SERCO’s sponsorship and attendance at the CEDA event obvious and cynical given the corporation already runs the detention racket in New Zealand and Australia and control a large proportion of the UK’s social services, including immigration services and disability support services. SERCO have a poor public reputation, they’ve been outed for overcharging the English Government by many millions for their services, they have been reportedly been involved in the abuse of detainees and exploiting immigrant labor. As this information is freely available on the internet, it seems strange that our government doesn’t address it.

SERCO are playing for high stakes in the form of lucrative Government contracts which will be paid for by the taxpayer. Any investments by private industry will only support shareholder dividends and company profits while the daily grinders now pay a proportion of their tax to private companies via Government welfare spending. Due to rampant privatization and economic rationalism gone wild, taxpayers no longer have the choice to put money towards an accountable, cost effective and Government protected social welfare service designed to create social stability and be available to all households who earn beneath the taxable income threshold. The blow out cost of private industry managed welfare services is blamed entirely on the welfare recipients themselves, who live way below the poverty line.

According to Tudge’s tutorial, if you’re not at work, in any job, any job at all, you’re no longer really a functional human being, you’re a major addict of some parasitic type, “gaming the system”. Welfare recipients were described as cunning griffters, experts adept at shirking off, using major mental illness or liver cancer treatment as a poor excuse for avoiding good honest labour. There was no mention of those very awful jobs, which no one should do, such as the jobs employers don’t pay you properly or at all for. The jobs that are unsafe and break you physically. The jobs that require endurance beyond your capacities or the jobs controlled by bullies where you get physically and mentally harassed.

Both Morrison and Tudge extol values that seem to be based on the Soviet era Gulags where those in charge of the labour system were always ‘good’ and had the right to debase others. In the Minister’s world all employers are always good, honest people doing their best to accommodate workers. Tudge also told the crowd that ‘being unemployed gives you a mental illness’, this new information regarding neurological, psychological and psychiatric illnesses is sure to revolutionize psychiatric medicines approach to closed ward patients in mental health facilities around the country. Finally he pointed out that we all have low expectations of the unemployed workers and that’s why welfare recipients are not currently gainfully labouring in underpaid positions in far flung corners of tourist rich Australia.

At the ACOSS breakfast the attendees, representing peak welfare bodies and charitable not-for-profits among others, kept clapping enthusiastically after everything Morrison said even though the measures he discussed will be disabling to many people. The policies will have negative impacts on children and the aging population by financially destabilizing their guardians and carers. Clapping for Morrison’s every statement normalizes his party’s negative attitude about people reliant on social welfare among those who should be most disturbed by it. Judging by the appearance of the crowd the applause was probably out of politeness, on a more cynical level it may have been about securing future funding. This kind of well-mannered approach to policies that expand a system of suffering and entrenches a welfare industry designed to use the least fortunate communities as the main resource for company profit, or in the case of some not-for-profits as leverage to expand the organization, seems very misplaced.

Within the CEDA/SERCO event the nature of collusive politics and corporate deal making was more pronounced. The event itself cost $300 per person and there were 57 attendees. That is a total of $17,100 just for a luncheon. A small amount for many of those present no doubt but at the table kindly funded by activist group GetUp!, completely dumbstruck, sat the few people in the room with genuine, lived insight into the experience of Centrelink legislation coupled with Disability Employment and Job Active Network mutual obligation strategies. Tudge yarned on about Aboriginal people before he segued into tales of those other, “similar demographics”, unemployed with substance abuse and impulse control problems apparently, who need a firm hand and no money at all unless they can give up the drugs, gambling and alcohol and be quick about it. SERCO will no doubt be managing this transition into further destitution.

The CEDA event started at 12 and finished at 2.30. It was net-worth more than a person on Newstart or DSP survives on for a full year. Those on welfare payments who receive well under the cost of Tudge’s lunch to live on, entirely, for a whole week, listened to him explaining how the demerit point system would prevent unemployed people, single parents included, access to any money in the event of non-compliance, which includes missing appointments, presumably overseen by the Job Provider industry. Four strikes and you’re out for four weeks, on reapplication you will be drug and alcohol tested and if you test positive you’ll be out again. To hear Tudge speak of welfare recipients “gaming the system” and the unacceptable cost of social security was very profound in Hilton’s plush environment where fine food was laid on and alcohol flowed freely, delivered to the tables by wait staff styled in black who chassed about offering reds, whites and chilled sparkling water.

Represented at the GetUp! table were unemployed and underemployed workers, all whom work hard as parents, community volunteers and participators, IT industry workers, union members and event organizers, none were drinking. Some were in and out of paid work, one man was almost retired and had worked most of his life in the transport industry before they privatized and retrenched everyone. There were women over the age of 45, well qualified with sound experienced who have been stuck in underpaid casualised employments for over 20 years and are now on a hidden scrap heap of aging women with little access to stable paid work and almost no superannuation and there were young people who face a potentially unstable jobs market ahead, matched with education debts that are indexed and will grow very large if they are out of work for too long. The GetUp! table laughed at Tudge’s funny ideas about financially penalizing people who can’t keep to appointments, forcing chronic alcoholics into acute withdrawal, denying real barriers to work, discounting the demands of single parenting, rejecting the reality of physical and mental disabilities and co-morbid drug problems alike, because if they didn’t laugh they would have been screaming and pulling out their hair.

During the speech and all through question time Tudge and some of the attendees referred to unemployed workers as “they” even though “they” were sitting right there, dining fugitive on the lam thanks to GetUp!. Questions about the punitive compliance policies were directed at Mr Tudge, who has no experience of being unemployed, even though there was a table of people who could have commented with full validity about their personal successes and lack thereof, under current welfare policy and the effect that the expansion of compliance policies will have on them. Punitive policy has little positive effect on job seeking outcomes, the experience of them enacted is overwhelmingly negative for many welfare recipients and none of these Welfare to Work and Job Active measures create any new jobs outside of the private welfare industry, where under-regulated and inexperienced people gain the opportunity to police and penalize others. In fact the Job Provider system has made no difference to the unemployment rate in Australia since its inception 20 years ago. It is a profoundly failed system.

Later one of the women in the GetUp! group tried to give Tudge a cardboard box containing a petition signed by 75,000 people asking for the government to fix the Robodebt problem. She was manhandled out by security. They must have been worried there was a pie in there.


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  1. babyjewels10

    Tudge is the second worst minister after Dutton. I really wish GetUp! would zero in on him at the next election, the way they’re zeroing in on Dutton. POS that he is.

  2. Rossleigh

    Part of the trouble is that politicians rarely have the perspective of actually being unemployed, even when they lose office. “Look at Sophie Mirabella, loses her seat but she managed to find a job with the government in no time. Look at Andrew Robb, resigns and next thing has an $800,000 a year gig with the Chinese. Why don’t the unemployed find jobs like that? It’s just that they don’t try…”

    BTW – Kate, did you go to Banyule High School?

  3. James Moylan

    Somehow I think Tudge believes that all the unemployed are out engaging in drunken debauchery and drug fuelled rebellious adventures every night on the vast largesse provided by the taxpayer.

    But more: I think the whole idea gives him a woody and he is secretly ashamed of it.

    reading his speech made me try and summon up a vision of what Tudge thinks the unemployed lifestyle might be – but then I realised that I was only (inadequately) echoing the great Ginsberg (see appended to the end of this comment).

    A little further consideration made me realise that most of ‘those’ people at the Hilton are committed to ‘order’ in a way that is almost pathological. They think about the unemployed and it immediately summons up visions of depravity, maidens being violated, godless heathens burning noxious substances in dreary coldwater flats, drug soaked despair, angst, high ideals, soured realities, unrequited love, unregulated and gratuitous sex – and all the other things that these pompous asses so fiercely critique yet secretly long for (you know: ‘feelings and experience’).

    Tudge et al. live in a world where Kerouac was a Loser and Cody deserves to be castrated rather than celebrated.

    How can you describe the value of colour to someone who is entirely colour blind?

    from Howl (by Ginsberg)

    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
    angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
    who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
    who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
    who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
    who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
    who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

    I urge every reader to go to https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/49303 and read the whole very long poem as it is one of the greatest works of literature of the modern age. We need our wide eyed poets and layabouts. We need mental mayhem and emotional chaos. We need the radicals to ‘wash their lettuce in public’.Without a Diogenes in the public square our civilisation become a mere economy.

    But how the F can you even begin to discuss the spiritual and aesthetic needs of a community with someone like Tudge?

    You might as well try and discuss philosophy with a poodle.

    cool bananas

  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good idea, babyjewels10. I’d like GetUp to zero in on anti-Christ Porter too.


    My blood is boiling after reading this article because it is so accurate in describing the ill-founded contempt and dismissal these outrageous ignoramuses have for unemployed people.

    Not only that, they have tied unemployed people’s hands behind their backs so even with the best will to escape poverty on Newstart, unemployed people are thwarted by the duopoly’s unrealistic and unreasonable cutoff levels for eligible paid income when and if one is able to locate paid work.

    Last time I looked, it was ONLY $48 per fortnight before one’s Newstart payment is reduced when some additional income is earnt.

    And they pretend to be attempting to incentivise unemployed people into paid employment!!!!

    I wrote a submission to the Robo-Debt Senate inquiry advocating for an increase in the level of permittable income, so people can financially benefit from temporary or inconsistent paid employment. I’ve also followed up with several calls to Senator Siewert’s office so that my idea is considered seriously for implementation.

    These are the pro-active measures we citizens need to take to get sympathetic MPs like Siewert to listen and to advocate on our behalfs.

    Tudge and Porter aren’t worth the dunny paper we wipe our bums with but keeping friendly with the cross benchers and alternative parties is in their electoral interests, so there is room for negotiation, if good people like Siewert can understand unemployed people’s plights.

  5. Glenn Barry

    We’re only one step away people stealing food to eat and then exporting them to convict colonies, the sole barrier to such action is just the lack of another Terra Nullius as a destination…

  6. Rossleigh

    Glenn Barry, perhaps that’s their plan for Tasmania!

  7. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    James Moylan,

    you nailed it when assessing their subversive, lusting, unrequited desire and jealousy of what they excessively think could be going on elsewhere where they dare not peek.

  8. Lindsay Maxwell Stafford

    He claimed that welfare recipients receive $49,000 a year in payments

    Maybe he inadvertently referred to the real cost to the social security budget when the costs of the job network and “training” providers, “welfare card” issuers, and other parasites are factored in.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Exactly Lindsay Maxwell Stafford.

    $49000 is still pathetic but it is almost FOUR times the pathetic that people on Newstart are expected to live on.

    Tudge’s knowledge of the discrepancy between what Newstart contractors cost OUR Social Security which is OUR right under the Australian Constitution, as opposed to what Newstart recipients receive is DISGUSTINGLY apparent when he fails to see recipients get NO effective benefit but providers DO.

  10. Roscoe

    she should have had the petition in a brown paper bag, it would have been carried off to master Tudge quick smart

  11. Wayne Turner

    This alleged governments are parasites.Clearly conducting “class warfare” on the less well off,to be puppets for the big end of town and themselves.

    This mob the true scum of the earth.

  12. totaram

    JM-Smith: I’m sure Minister Tudge is fully aware of the difference between what it costs the govt. and what the poor people on Newstart get. The efforts of this govt. are directed towards increasing this difference since it impacts how much of it will come back to them in the form of “donations to the party”. In spite of all their talk of people not depending on govt. for their welfare, their real business is indeed welfare of people from govt. coffers, but it must be the right sort of “people”, who by smoke and mirrors can be labelled as “lifters” so that more govt. largess can be given to them, so they can lift everyone (only the chosen) higher. If you believe the rubbish spewed by their paid propagandists on a daily basis, you would be hard put to understand why the Hon. Tudge should accept some “petition” from some lefty ratbags, about how effective he has been in reducing welfare “bludging”.

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    yep, I reckon I knew Tudge was cynical in his blaming of the poorest of the poor.

    My thought is that Left people in the northern suburbs should turn up on his doorstep every day demanding employment in his office which his electoral funding must provide. If he doesn’t then he must explain why he doesn’t assist unemployed.

    But how to define Tudge as the liar and paid government representative who lied, is the important question.

    Both Tudge and Porter must be identified as enemies of the People…

    … just like any Shorten people who chose political expedience at the expense of vulnerable social security people needing government help.

  14. Mick Byron

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith at June 7, 2017 at 6:55 pm
    “Tudge’s knowledge of the discrepancy between what Newstart contractors cost OUR Social Security which is OUR right under the Australian Constitution,”

    I would be interested to know if there is something I missed while skimming through the Constitution that is more definitive than I have found and would give me a greater understanding of “OUR right under the Australian Constitution,”
    My reading indicates there is Legislative power to act on Social security issues but nothing that indicates”Our Right”or anything other than the Commonwealth ability to act and override States but nowhere could I find anything that compels anything like a “Right”
    I may be missing something so would appreciate it if you could direct me to anything under the Constitution that better explains “Our Right” other than s51(xxiiiA)

    s51(xxiiiA) grants the commonwealth legislative power.The provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances:

  15. paulwalter

    Taken me a couple of days to go near this posting..Satanist Porter and Toxic Sludge induce nausea, even just the thought of them. Also, a large chunk of the Australian public and media.

  16. John

    So, when are they going to use the unemployed to build their gas chambers? Its the likes of these christian sharia bastards that that are deplorable. These silverspoon Psychopaths should be sacked. This proves their in it for themselves. Vote these swipes out.

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Your cited quote from the Constitution reflects that unemployed people are entitled to Social Security without
    conscription which then shows Tudge’s and Porter’s illegetimacy for contravening these principles enshrined in the Constitution.

    Neoliberals in both major parties have slyly shifted the terminology from enshrined rights to welfare which implies something that can be given or withdrawn.

    Such conduct must be called out so both lots of perpetrators are made to improve conditions and benefits for vulnerable people on Newstart.

  18. DisablednDesperate

    Paul I’m the same. I have hovered over it. Reading it is like every word is a slash to my body. It pains me more than I can say.
    I am one of those vermin scum on “welfare”. How I hate that word.
    Privatisation is…….you all know what it is. Disibilty is not something I’d wish on anyone but there are times…
    It’s to the point I’m too scared to even open my mouth online in case I incur their wrath so thank you to those who speak up for people like me. We need your voices.

  19. Mick Byron

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    I may be wrong but I was of the understanding that the Constitution gave the Commonwealth power to Legislate on the issues,
    That Legislative power enabled them to do enact Legislation to raise or cut benefits, to alter qualification for any benefit and any eclusions or changes as they see fit to Legislate.I see nowhere where a guarantee of benefits is enshrined in the Constitution.
    I understand you may be a Lawyer so I was seeking some clarification on just what the Legislation enshrined and the “Rights” we as citizens had as I read it the s51(xxiiiA) gives The Government the “Rights” to do as they like but see no guarantee of “Rights” for citizens

  20. win jeavons

    This is why we need to believe in hell, because according to the parable Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus, that is where these despicable parasites are headed, unless they repent !

  21. win jeavons

    Perhaps the first human right is to basic respect for each and every human , as the UN promoted long ago. The respect(??) these overpaid parasites give to others is the respect they deserve themselves. What an upside down nation we are !!!

  22. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Mick Byron,

    it is true that Australia has no Bill of Rights that explicitly states what a citizen is allowed or not allowed. However, there is no explicit denial of rights in the Constitution either and subject to s51. Legislative powers of the Parliament which states:

    “The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power [12] to make laws for the peace, order, and good government
    of the Commonwealth with respect to:
    (xxiiiA)[13] the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;


    Provision xxiiiA explicitly lists “unemployment” as a group to which community service defined as “good government” applies. It was (as you would be aware) an addition to the Constitution in 1946 just after WWII when there was universal need for citizens to access government support after the grim austerity caused by WWII. There are no words to the effect that such services provided by good government should only apply at specific times and should be allowed to be withdrawn or weakened by any parliament that sees fit.

    Furthermore, “good government” is defined by serving the People. If any citizens are denied the services promised by this provision then it is not “good government” and thus contravenes the Constitution. No doubt “good government” could be defined in different ways depending on whether you’re speaking to a fascist, a social democrat or democratic socialist but it would be advisable to consult a mainstream central position to define that. Tudge and Porter do not represent the mainstream central position because of the repressive measures inflicted on vulnerable people on Newstart.

    The Parliament in 1946 did do vulnerable people on Social Security a favour by adding the clause “(but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription)” because that explicitly states that any benefits the Parliament provide different groups including the unemployed, those groups should not be forced into undertaking roles in order to obtain their social security. Hence the Mutual Obligations component of such current services contravenes the explicit and implicit expectations of the Constitution.

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I have never been anxious for a Bill of Rights but these last 3 and a half decades of flipflop neoliberal governments and especially now with this fascist government that gets more obscene day by day, I am more inclined to think specific rights must be explicitly pronounced with the proviso that rights may be added or amended with plebiscites or referenda to allow for natural societal changes over time, as long as any changes did not weaken the citizen’s standing.

  24. Mick Byron

    ,Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    medical and dental services (but not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription),

    It seems from The High Courts rulings that “, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription),”… that “civil conscription” was only in relation to medical and dental service and not pensions unemployment etc

    or maybe I’m reading it wrong:-D


  25. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I think you are.

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