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It seems easy to me . . .

Poverty and unemployment can make Christmas a very bleak time for some folk.  While thinking about their struggle I was overwhelmed by how we have demonised and abandoned so many who need our help, so I did what I so often do, escaping to my world of numbers, knowing there has to be a better way.

The Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz said:

“… it should be the task of every job seeker to make it their full-time job to gain employment … Because the data is overwhelming … If you are unemployed, the physical health, mental health, self-esteem, social interaction of that individual are all diminished.”

As Bill Mitchell wisely observes:

“If the unemployed have a responsibility “to make it their full-time job to gain employment” even though the income support payments the Government provides leave most of them impoverished (and deliberately so), then the Government has a responsibility to use its fiscal capacity to provide sufficient work.”

So here are some numbers to contemplate as some of us digest our Christmas feasts.

The Commonwealth spends $7.5 billion on Newstart Allowance each year and the number claiming is rising by about 5% annually.  It has also committed to give $5.1 billion to Employment Providers over the next three years and $525 million for the Green Army.

At present, the Newstart Allowance supports approximately 740,000 people without a job.

The national minimum wage is currently $16.87 per hour.

Instead of forcing unemployed people to work 15 hours a week to get their Newstart payment (with a possible additional payment of $20.80 a fortnight to help with costs of taking part in the Work for the Dole activity), why don’t we give them real jobs for 20 hours a week starting at the minimum wage. This would give them a wage of $674.80 a fortnight, give them some work experience, and also allow them some time to be studying or looking for other work.  Considering the maximum payment a single person with no children can receive now is $515.60 a fortnight, this would be a significant boost.

If 500,000 people were given jobs under these circumstances it would cost us about $8.8 billion a year, less than we are already spending ($9.4 billion), and the same as Joe Hockey gifted to the RBA.  It’s less than we spend on Operation Sovereign Borders and much less than Tony is spending on foreign built fighter jets and submarines…..to get half a million people into work and one step closer to moving out of poverty.

There are hundreds of thousands of jobs that can be created which meet current unmet community needs and would help people and the natural environment and which would be accessible for any skill level.

All it takes is for a government to have the brains, courage and heart to do it.

We need the Wizard of Oz.

35 comments

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  1. Peter Ball

    I’m afraid the Trash Liberal Government hates the Australian people , it is at war with them . The Liberals would never have the imagination that Kaye Lee has to even think of this idea

  2. mars08

    Jolly Joe Hockey, 13 August, 2010

    “Well I’d just say this to you, Governments don’t create jobs, business creates jobs. Employers employ people, not governments. It is the job of government to create an environment where business has the confidence to go out and employ more people. That’s what matters – that consumers have the confidence to go and spend money – that’s what governments need to do.”

    It’s working splendidly so far….

  3. keerti

    Brains, courage and heart! Kay Lee you just clearly and succinctly defined that which is absent in this government!

  4. mars08

    I love the way blowhard Hockey summed up the issue in his final sentence, but stumbled past without even realising it.

    Oh, Good Grief! The answer is right there, you clueless clown! “…consumers have the confidence to go and spend money…”. Now… what sort of government policies would discourage consumers from having that confidence???? Sheeeshh!

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Something along the line of R.E.D scheme where many parks and recreation areas were created. parks that many still enjoy today. Yes, real jobs and real outcomes.

    George’s River ands Merrylands Gardens for 2.

  6. Mick

    Work for the dole only exploits people just like slavery but real jobs at minimum wages are whats needed here trouble is we need to reverse our manufacturing decline to fix this.http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lPnKJUu07rE

  7. Phi

    Kaye Lee is correct in her ideas, and her maths are sound. I’m with Kaye.

    But Abbott et al are neoconservatives – they despise the unemployed, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the marginalised, the poor and the homeless. To Abbott and his ministers, these Australians are the flotsam that annoy and aggravate his government and it’s elite backers.

    SS Minister Morrison will ‘deal’ with these human ‘aberrations’ early in 2015. Rest assured real Australia, you are governed by a class of inhumane bastards the likes of which have never been seen in the Australian body politic.

    We have no option but to fight this government – to do otherwise would be capitulation and our children will rue our cowardice.

    January 1, 2015 – resolve to join a union – then, on January 2 join a union – then on January 3 tread the path to bring this disgusting, inhumane government to its knees before it brings us and our children to ours.

  8. mars08

    The 457 visa rule changes aren’t helping the unemployed…

  9. Keitha Granville

    It’s too simple Kaye, and it also involves actually caring about PEOPLE. This government has ably demonstrated that it is incapable of caring about anyone except the rich and powerful, and simple ideas like saving the planet and looking after their fellow Australians are totally beyond them. Would it be too much to hope that the Labor party might adopt this diea and run with it for the next election ?

  10. Judith W

    Volunteering organisations have hundreds of positions available from positions in childcare, assisting in schools, gardening in residential care, library visits to the elderly, working on environmental programs… And it begs the question – surely these are valid jobs that should be undertaken by governments at federal, state and council levels. It is clear that the jobs are there to but governments, while they have the power to ease unemployment and associated issues, are too stingy to do so!

  11. Annie B

    Well done Kaye …. well said. …. Your reasoning is impeccable.

    While we know the type of Government we now have to deal with, there just might be someone who will listen to your theory.

    Like the new Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. …. It is worth a go Kaye.

    Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Send your calculatiions to him. And keep sending them.

    You never know – he is one who just MIGHT listen.

    You would never know unless you try – and keep trying. …. Every word you have written makes total sense.

    Go for it …….. and good luck.

  12. Florence nee Fedup

    This government is very clear, their only concern is the economy. their dogma is that government has no role to play in lives of people. Abbott believes the poor will always be with us. He believes the free market will provide all. it is about faith in extreme neoliberalism. Yes, it is right for the strongest to thrive. Yes even at the expense of the weak. This is Abbott’s Christmas message to us. More than us, his defiant resetting of his government is telling us, he will not be backing off. His agenda for this country is set in stone.

  13. John Kelly

    The simplicity of providing full employment and saving money in the process is anathema to the conservative mindset.

  14. Richard Lee

    Instead, Vogons Tony Abbott, Hockey & Co. have given us the highest rate of Unemployment in 12 (some figures say 20) yrs. But they aren’t incompetent, just Vogon. This is entirely within their Vogon vision for Oz.

  15. Florence nee Fedup

    Vogons perfect description.

  16. Kaye Lee

    Social policy and economic policy can no longer be conceived separately, and basic income is increasingly viewed as the only viable way of reconciling two of their respective central objectives: poverty relief and full employment.

    As Ross Gittens said

    “Really? One more time? That’s the best advance you’ve been able to think of? That’s the best the whole nation has come up with? Another argument about the GST? Another argument about bringing back Work Choices?

    …It reveals the limits to our ambition, the incestuous nature of our policy debate [and] the limits to our imagination….”

    Oh for an inspirational leader with some imagination and guts.

  17. Terry2

    The way this government aggressively hounded the auto industry to “put up or shut up” and seemed quite satisfied when GM, Ford and Toyota agreed to shut-up shop and concentrate their production in Asia ; the way they have denigrated our shipbuilding (and submarine building) capability to the point where they will not even allow our remaining shipbuilders to tender for government work seems to demonstrate an underlying ideology that I have to admit I do not comprehend.

    Auto building and shipbuilding used to be the foundation for apprenticeships in welding and boilermaking and all those associated trades that are so essential to industrial infrastructure ; now I hear we are bringing in welders from the Philippines on 457 visas to work on the LNG contracts off Darwin and the North West. – no work for Aussies and certainly no apprenticeships.

    Mr Abbott has this strange notion that road building is the solution and that the future for our unemployed youth – 20% in my region – will be in building roads for foreign made cars to run on.
    We’ve had some of this road construction locally and it seemed to involve one bloke on a backhoe and another on a grader supported by six traffic management people in hi-viz clobber and lollypops – one such was a young aboriginal man who stood for hours in the hot sun, day-in, day-out turning his lollypop from stop to go and go to stop : is this the future of our youth under this new paradigm ?

    On a lighter note, I see that the media have said that Margi Abbott looks very glum in the orchestrated Christmas message with her man, Tone: she’s probably thinking ‘you reckon you’ve got it bad, I’ve got to live with this moron’.

    Have a good one AIMN all and please think of those poor people incarcerated on Manus and Nauru, because they made a mistake.

  18. Florence nee Fedup

    Marge could be thinking. Not long now before I collect my reward.

  19. mars08

    Richard Lee:

    …is entirely within their Vogon vision for Oz.

    Oh Good Grief!

    Surely someone who wants to exclude all animal products from their diet… and avoid using any animal products, is entitled to do so. It’s THEIR choice!!! Comparing them to the cruel and clueless Abbott government is a bit over the top!!!

    Oh… wait… NOT vegan? Carry on…

  20. Kaye Lee

    Tell that to the anti-halal brigade

  21. mars08

    Kaye Lee… they’re just silly little croutons…

  22. Michael Taylor

    Terry2, it was only a couple of years ago that Abbott was predicting that Rudd will kill the local car manufacturing industry if he abolished novated leasing.

  23. stephentardrew

    It’s seems so easy too be reasonable. Really it is a matter of will but they have no will to help the low income, marginalized and poor. They cannot see pain and hardship let alone the contribution of their ignorance to those difficulties.

    The evidence is we are going head long towards disaster so their is no adaptive benefit to destroying the environment and future of the species. As Kaye, Both Johns, Bill Mitchell and many others have clearly demonstrated that if these problems are approached as rational and logical engineering challenges, which are morally self-evident, (do unto others and least pain) we could immediately produce a variety of possible solutions that meet the goal of poverty alleviation and equitable distribution. We are dealing with a bunch of evolutionary fossils that have built enclosed, rigid habituated, magical and mythical boxes of dogma around their fearful minds and any threat to the box is a threat to their self identity.

    When pure force of habituated dogma brings about psychological rigidity and closure the chance of change is remote. They have seized control through lying and the reinforcement of greed based upon irrational notions of judgment, blame and retribution rather than exploring the causal contingencies that lead to suffering and inequity. They have been allowed to peddle irrational free will and choice without being accountable for such claims. Philosophically we now know that their belies are nonsense yet our intellectuals are not participating in a direct attack upon irrationality and madness.

    The fact that so many unsupportable irrational beliefs infect both political parties means we are left with a choice between the absolutely lousy and the not so lousy. Maybe it is time to coalesce ideas on this site into a coherent science based document outlining a variety of solutions and the means to achieve such goals. However the basic framework should be reasonably simple and elegant so that voters are not confused by the minutia and complexities of theoretical models posited by many academics.

    Defining goals, offering reasoned solutions, including emotionally fulfilling hope, can be the basis for changing hearts and minds. It is no coincidence we use the term hearts and minds. It must include an emotional and metaphysically founded sense of mystery, awe and wonder to fulfill the demand by most for a sense of purpose. If you don’t appeal to positive emotions then what is being produced is just more intellectual noise. This is the difference between good and poor communicators. Good communicators inspire using positive feelings, wishes, hopes and desires.

    The challenge then is turn our anger and resentment into a positive message of hope for the betterment of society. I am not telling anyone to suck eggs I am simply offering a different perspective. The point is how do we both attack irrational nonsense holding dystopia ideas to the flame of reason yet maintain a sense of purpose, compassion and love. It is no good just changing minds we also have to change peoples hearts.

    Appeals to love may seem mushy and ideological however as emotional beings we need to feel good about ourselves and others to successfully join in a cooperative communitarian approach to wealth distribution. Evolution does not separate head and heart we do depending upon habituated ideological prejudices. So the only viable choice is the choice to goodness and love reflected in political action because all other beliefs are habituated attachment driven be confused and disparate mythological past built upon ignorance.

    I make no apologies for an appeal to love, compassion and goodness for that is what we must stand for if we are going to counter unwarranted greed, cruelty and brutality.

    In art and Love.

  24. hilderombout

    Steven Tardrew, you are absolutely right saying that we need policies based on heart and mind. I totally agree with you that we need to inspire people with positive means or nothing will change. And the change need to start with ourselves. We need to become the inspiration to those around us. We need to walk our talk! One person can start a change but only if that person has integrity and compassion towards all life. If others around us really start seeing their own desires reflected in our example they will follow. In the end we will become a wave of change that will be unstoppable. Whether the government follows suit…, well if not they will become obsolete and we will live our lives without them. They can withhold money to make our lives easier but they can not kill our spirit! And we will find ways, of that i am sure. I have proven this in my personal life. With each child i bore i received less housekeeping money so i found ways around this by becoming more inventive. If i can do so on a microscopic level we can also do it on a macroscopic one, as long as we believe in ourselves.

    I wish all of you a peaceful and positive holiday time.

  25. Anomander

    Sorry Kaye, it’d never work because it’s almost too simple.

    If the government pays people to work for the minimum wage, how could pressure be maintained to lower costs for the blessed ‘job creators’? They would in effect become ‘public servants’, which as everyone know are the lowest forms of life on the planet, oxygen thieving, cake-eating, shiny-suited, chair warmers, not worth spitting on.

    Oh no! We couldn’t have the government creating jobs because that’s socialism masquerading as something that the government doesn’t agree with or comprehend. No, the government’s mission is to destroy jobs, which presents important development opportunities for government to provide cash incentives for business to step in and employ those people whose jobs we just sashed.

    Everyone knows the only way your country can be efficient is for business to pay the least possible costs for their staffing. We de-humanise them by never referring to them as people, nor do we acknowledge they have families and lives and commitments – they are all merely “leaners” and we have to keep them desperate, willing to work for less money, no entitlements, prepared to do anything for a few extra bucks. That’s how an efficient economy works. Ask anyone in big business – they’ll tell you.

    We do this by stripping away all social support, we marginalise them, increasing the costs of everything they need; food, fuel, health care, education, housing. We use the media to manipulate the message and create a powerful narrative that these leaners are social spongers, sub-humans, drinking, smoking, having dozens of babies, laying around with their feet-up, not pulling their weight and sucking on the teat of hard-working Aussies, doing it tough just trying to make ends meet, which allows us to turn whole sections of the community against them.

    At the same time we perform the same trick against unions, casting them all as corrupt, as destroyers of productivity, decimators of business, and a constant roadblock to job creation. The leaners, sucked-in by this message too, also turn against unions and numbers dwindle to the point where the unions become powerless, irrelevant, which leaves the leaners even more susceptible to manipulation and exposed to exploitation, where business can further erode their wages, rights and make life even more tenuous for them.

    Adding fuel to the fire, we declare a ‘skills shortage’ which allows us to bring-in 457 Visas from overseas and we put them into the jobs we slashed, they also have no support network, no security and are effectively indentured, so they have even fewer rights and will work for significantly less than those inefficient and prohibitively expensive Australian workers that are dragging down our economy.

    So, the government saves lots of money on welfare, which can be better spent as incentives for business, who coincidentally support our election campaigns and invite us to lavish parties on their new superyachts. We marginalise workers, reducing their wages, conditions, making it impossible for them to negotiate or get ahead and making even them even more desperate to find any work just to survive – all of which improves the bottom-line for business, and as we all know, anything that’s good for business is vital for the economy.

  26. diannaart

    Social policy and economic policy can no longer be conceived separately…

    Crikey, Kaye Lee, next you’ll suggest that the environment be considered a fundamental part of economics – then were will we be? Holding hands and singing “Kum Bah Yah” – helping each other? That’s a slippery slope straight into Communism, right?

  27. Kaye Lee

    And in another stellar decision….

    “A little-known budget measure that strips the criminally insane of welfare could put the community at risk, an advocate warns.

    From July 2015, the disability support pension will no longer be paid to people with severe mental illnesses who are detained for serious crimes, including murder.

    The little-publicised $30 million savings measure was included in the mid-year budget review.

    AAP understands it will affect about 300 people confined to psychiatric units or living in the community because they are unfit to stand trial, or cannot be convicted because they cannot judge right from wrong.

    There are concerns the measure will put the broader community at risk because people considered a danger will be left to fend for themselves.”

    If we are cutting off payments to the criminally insane lets start with whoever thought this one up.

  28. la_lasciata

    Dream on: you’re talking about a socialistic attitude. These bastards are about as far from having one of those as I am from fitting into a size 8 dress.
    :-\

  29. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    I know what I would like to cut off…

    This latest bit of insanity sounds like ‘Bedlam R Us’.

  30. Florence nee Fedup

    taking money from people to ill to plea but locked up for their own or public safety is reneging on their responsibility, transferring cost to states.

  31. Kaye Lee

    The Age – Letter of the day.

    “What we want: fairness for all and a clean planet

    Tony Abbott’s comment that his biggest achievement for women is the (phantom) $550 resulting from the removal of the carbon tax (The Age, 23/12) misreads what many women care about. In this capitalist-driven economy, he mistakes us for money-hungry clones, hell-bent on pocketing cash. He is wrong.

    A fundamental concern for me, and many women, is the future faced by our children, and children and communities worldwide, given the state of the planet they will inherit.

    Any policy that does not have environmental sustainability at its core, coupled with equity and fairness to ensure that all those facing disadvantage (eg poverty, disability, disease) are well looked after, is not worth the paper it is written on.

    I would gladly hand back $550 to reinstate carbon pricing, provide humane conditions for refugees, “re-fund” our foreign aid budget, which has been disgracefully slashed, or deliver to schools the Gonski funding that has disappeared.

    Please, Mr Abbott, do not cite platitudes and assume you know me or what I care about. I hope that this country gets the visionary, fair, feminist leader we again so sorely need, one who understands that money in the hip pocket gained at the expense of the welfare of the planet and other people is not only too big a price to pay, but echoes hollow in the hearts of women.

    Pauline Hopkins, Beaconsfield”

  32. sandrasearle

    Kaye you say at the end of your article that we need The Wizard of Oz. Well, instead we have the Lizard of Oz.
    As for the rest of the article, it is just so obvious what this idiotic govt. should be doing even blind Freddy can see what should be done in the job creation area. If people have jobs, they pay tax. Oh hang on a minute, those at the top end of town have jobs & they know how to avoid paying tax.
    I just wish we could sack this incompetent before it does any more damage to this great country of ours.

  33. mars08

    sandrasearle:

    I just wish we could sack this incompetent before it does any more damage to this great country of ours.

    Well that would be nice… for a first step….

    I’m worried that some people might have the idea that getting rid of Abbott and his foul mob will fix things.

    This government’s policies and attitudes did not pop up, fully-formed during the last election. A great many voters KNEW what Abbott was going to do. They KNEW his character. They KNEW about his dishonesty and stupidity.

    Yet… in our (nominally) democracy… his party was chosen to lead the country. Our political system produced this government. They were elected by the voters based on the electorate’s knowledge, values and prejudices. Just like every government before them.

    Unfortunately, there’s much more going on here than the failings of one shameless buffoon and allied idealogues.

  34. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Thank you for reprinting Pauline’s letter. One can only wince at the type of people Abbott believes women to be – no doubt there are some in his frame of reference who do fit and, therefore, reinforce his ideals.

    Indeed, it won’t be enough to remove this visible canker festering in control of our home Australia. We need to completely remove all. A balanced ministry.

    For example, a Minister for Wellbeing to counter the Minister for Welfare.

    A Minister for Peace to counter the Minister for Defence

    A Minister FOR the Environment to counter the Minister for the Environment ;

    and so on…

  35. Tom Foster

    Kaye, recognising that the unemployment allowance Newstart (the dole) needs to be significantly raised to provide a living wage and that the unemployed require time during normal business hours to search for work are good starts. Particularly in the 21st century where networking is crucial for an individual’s chances of being offered work and the costs of such networking are beyond the allowance of what Newstart provides.

    But even after reading links to the Job Guarantee concept I still have issues about the approach, broadly speaking:

    1. The schemes still treat people using a ‘cookie cutter’ approach and pricing (allowances) based on postage stamp style pricing, one price for all…
    >> Where’s the discussion to differentiate people who live in inner metro areas who are likely to incur higher cost of living as opposed to those in the outer suburbs or regional areas, also those who need assistance in networking costs?
    >> How to match the skills of a person to the job (more broadly skills, competencies, aptitude and cultural fit) and why do the jobs always seem to revolve around someone conducting manual labour outdoors, or someone with low or no work experience. Instead what about the unemployment jobs to be offered middle-aged white collar professionals who have always worked in an office? With a few exceptions these people are simply not cut out for manual, physical or outdoor roles, maybe a day or two, but longer term?
    >> Why ‘give’ people jobs they are not proficient at where a less than expert job is conducted and the individual suffers stress and depression from the pressure to perform only so they can receive a benefit? (see ‘punishment’ below)
    >> What about people who perform higher duties in their unemployed job compared to another unemployed person, do they end up being paid the same or more? What about other typical job issues such as sick leave, annual leave, super, do I get paid public holidays or if its raining and work gets cancelled, etc, etc
    >> And re-skilling people seems a bit simplistic, in many cases people may have to be ‘re-careered’ to re-enter the workforce, or paid to retire early (see structural issues below)

    2. Why do I have to work one of these unemployment jobs to receive a payment from the govt, this ‘giving’ unemployed jobs in return for benefits still has the feeling of being ‘punished’ to work for the dole. The vast majority of people are made unemployed through no fault of their own and don’t want to be unemployed. And what about someone who has worked for 30 years and paid their taxes, is this not part of the ‘contract’ with govt?

    3. The schemes seem to ignore structural challenges in the modern job market, in particular the erosion of jobs as they are replaced by automation and machine intelligence, e.g. ‘the eroding middle class’. This is not going to go away and will only get bigger, future growth in demand will be satisfied more and more by machines than by people. (Btw, how many of these ‘bottom of the rung’ jobs to be offered the unemployed will actually still be available as they are replaced by machines?)

    Chances are, even without neo-con economic ideologies, we have already commenced in a world where there will be more people than jobs.

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