When my children were young, and referred to anything that happened before they were born, they used to talk about “in the olden days”.
I grew up reading fairy stories, myths and legends – King Arthur and his knights of the round table – with distressed damsels being rescued by white knights in shining armour, and princesses on white horses with tall, pointy hats, trailing a veil – so these were the pictures my imagination conjured up by the ‘olden days’ reference.
But the real olden days were the times before money was invented as a universal medium of exchange of goods and services. When the rulers of the land had absolute power over the majority of the people.
Were they good times?
For most people – no, they were not.
Many governments around the world are currently fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through social distancing, mass testing for infection, hand sanitising and public mask-wearing.
For this to be effective, many types of work cannot continue to be carried out and many people are facing drastically reduced – or total loss of – incomes.
THIS HAS BEEN A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES.
Few, if any, countries had fully prepared plans for dealing with a pandemic – certainly the Australian government had none – so decisions are being made blindly, on an ad hoc basis.
Without much clear forward-thinking, the Coalition government urged banks to come to an arrangement for deferred payment of mortgages and landlords to desist from evicting tenants unable to pay the rent.
The effectiveness of these suggestions depended on more concrete enforcement action by state and territory governments, and completely ignored the issue of the applicable time frame.
Understandably, most policies were being predicated on the assumption that, sooner or later, we would have a vaccine, but when and how effective it might be was unknown.
Not much has changed in that regard.
Financial institutions and landlords need more certainty than is provided by this situation, and it is becoming evident that, in the very near future, mortgagees will be receiving demands for payment, on the threat of foreclosure, while tenants will similarly be receiving ‘pay up or get out’ messages from landlords.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the National Cabinet discussed financial arrangements, leading to the massive program the government finally introduced.
I would bet my bottom dollar that the plan was agreed to but not initiated by Morrison and Frydenberg.
After all – all the policies of the Coalition government have been based on reversing and crtiticising the policies initiated by the ALP when in power – just as Trump has been beavering away undoing every socially responsible policy introduced by Obama.
Because the policies offered by the Coalition, are developed by people, few, if any, of whom have ever been severely deprived, they are blind to the effects they will have on the people most adversely affected.
For years there have been demands from many areas that Newstart was totally inadequate, for many people and many reasons.
To the relief of many, the initial payment approved by government, for the unemployed who were not entitled to other categories of payment, was an improvement on Newstart – but had the threat hanging over it that it might later be reduced.
What the Coalition government does not seem able to comprehend is the scale and extent of the problem it faces.
Prior to the pandemic, wage levels for many – but not for CEO’s salaries and bonuses! – had been stagnant, if not going backwards, for years. So people had been unable to save, had, in fact, accumulated often massive levels of debt in a climate where the number of those unemployed was massively greater than the numbers of available jobs.
The people who were best supported in this situation were those employed by the out-sourced employment agencies.
Employees of these agencies were often eligible for bonuses if they placed an applicant in a job, and a further bonus it the person remained in that employment for a specified period.
The person who benefitted most was a shareholder in the company which was required to help those unemployed.
Attempts are now being made by government to cut more ground from under the feet of those who have already lost working conditions which unions fought hard to gain for them.
Australia is a wealthy country – but much of that wealth is squirrelled away in tax havens, allowing the account holders to use their money to make money, which is never subject to tax in Australia. The gap widens, day after day.
We need a variant of the universal basic income (UBI) to ensure that the increased number for whom no jobs exist can avoid becoming a homeless underclass. through no choice of their own!
The government could encourage a recovery which creates jobs, starting in those states which are reasonably clear of COVID-19 – WA, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, with Queensland and SA champing on their heels.
Those jobs must be linked to dealing with the other existential crisis – global warming.
And taxation MUST return to being progressive.
OK – I know. I expect miracles – and not the kind Morrison looks for!
The vast majority of those supposedly planning for our future are all receiving regular incomes, living in a secure situation with solid plans for the future.
Until and unless they consult more effectively with those organisations which know at first hand the misery and hopelessness of those who are out of work, unlikely to find work in the near future, desperate for their families’ welfare and suffering enormous stress, Australia will remain a basket case with an ideologically biassed government which is blind to its failings.
SCOTT MORRISON – FOR THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN WORKER, STAYING ALIVE SHOULD NOT BE AS HARD AS YOU ARE MAKING IT!
I end as always – 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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