Those who stand for a parliamentary seat in Canberra seem to fall into roughly 3 categories; The party apparatchiks, the earnest believers in helping the community and those who think their destiny is to become Prime Minister.
Unsurprisingly, this last group is remarkable large, even though close examination reveals a much lower level of talent and a much higher lust for power than might be desirable in a supreme leader.
What far too many of those who are eventually elected seem to lack, is an understanding of what life is like for the substantial number of wage earners – particularly those in the gig or casual economy.
The sheer cruelty which has been exerted in the last decade or more towards many groups – refugees, backpackers, casual workers, many immigrants and visa holders – is, for me, breath-taking.
To deny certain groups of people a living wage in a country like Australia, with its rich resources, is unforgivable. Even more so when global corporations are invited to plunder those resources while arranging their tax affairs to contribute little if anything to our economy.
Our national politicians are among the best paid in the world and resist vigorously any suggestions that their allowances and superannuation are too generous. Yet they make decisions on policies like Robo-debt, the Indue cashless basics card and, in recent weeks, who does/does not get assistance when unemployed because of the Covid-19 crisis – which show a total absence of understanding of the damage they are doing.
Let’s just pause a moment and consider some of these flawed policies.
Robo-debt did not just use a totally flawed algorithm, which anyone with a basic understanding of mathematics could spot a mile off. IT WAS ILLEGAL!
And has the government rushed to remedy the situation for those who were wrongly charged or over-charged? Don’t rush to answer this effectively rhetorical question unless you have recently seen a flight of pigs.
For every Indue card issued, the supplier receives a reasonably substantial administrative fee – money which would go back into the economy if it went instead to welfare recipients.
In the world of live entertainment, but not including sport, theatres, their staff, performers, backstage staff, roadies for touring groups, etc, are largely only in receipt of payment for specific performances. If the venue cannot be used, the performance is not being delivered through the internet, or other forms of broadcasting, none of the people involved get an income. Yet they are almost all excluded from most of the schemes the governments has adopted to assist those with regular employment.
And – just to add to the joys of spring, where, once upon a time, Social Security and the Commonwealth Employment Service were staffed by trained public servants, now, their successors are less well equipped, with much of Centrelink’s services being privatised (and de-humanised for the benefit of shareholders!), while those seeking work or disability support are now dealing with private agencies where staff are often poorly trained and ill-equipped to deal with specialist health and other areas.
And if you have dealt with Centrelink in recent times, how long has it taken for you to actually make contact with someone who was able to help you efficiently and sympathetically? (Pigs, anyone?)
My personal observation, in light of recent publicity on welfare issues, including Aged Care, is that no social service should ever be privatised. Corporation Law requires the directors of an incorporated body to give priority to looking after shareholders interests. Until and unless this law is amended to demand appropriate standards of care for clients of the services provided by the corporation, things will not improve.
How much has so far been achieved in this regard by the banking Royal Commission? (Another porcine rhetorical interjection.)
Now – not only are many people now working from home, if they still have a job, staying home unless it is essential that they go out, maintaining social distance, or even in self- isolation if they might be incubating the virus, the whole fabric of society has been torn apart.
And to expect that, the moment the green light is given, everyone will be back on the job, the wheels of industry will be turning smoothly, everything will be back to normal at the flick of a switch and we all wake up from the nightmare – well! Excuse me! Are you totally bonkers?
Properly designed and with appropriate tax laws, a Universal Basic Income would have been an ideal start for handling the present crisis. Everyone would at least have a basic income without any waiting period. The claims that it would discourage people from finding work might have some foundation, but when, for a long time now, there have not been enough jobs to meet demand, it can surely be ignored?
Earlier today I published on the AIMN an article entitled ‘Planning for the future must start NOW’.
And it must!
We do not know how many months must pass before we start to return to anything approaching normal.
It certainly will not be business as usual, we will have learned a lot about ourselves, our government and what we need to do as a priority and that knowledge must be put to good use.
For the planet to survive, we MUST act on climate change.
So – NO! Scott Morrison. We will NOT be snapping back.
We will be in a position to improve our future.
WE MUST USE IT!
I end as always (except that I forgot last time!) – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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