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Tag Archives: Australian Labor

The Taxed Nots. Who are they and what should we do with them?

When the Government chooses not to participate in active job creation, the expectation on people seeking employment to engage in active participation welfare programs, is unfair, burdensome, stigmatising, demoralising and counterproductive. Mutual Obligation under the Keating Government was developed based on the notion that the Government would also commit to job creation and increase vocational training. This is not the case today, nor has it been for some time. The Government is not investing in job creation and vocational education has been largely privatised and is predominantly inaccessible and unaffordable to those who most need it. Active Participation welfare programs are punitive and are underpinned by the assumption that the jobseeker is lazy and needs motivation by a paternalistic guiding hand to participate in society as a full human being. It is time for a new narrative and a new solution.

The latest narrative – The Taxed Nots. Who are they?

They are bludgers, rorters, welfare cheats, the undeserving poor, the drug addled, leaners not lifters, people with their hand out, a hindrance to the ‘national interest’, people who don’t try hard enough, job refusers, taking loans from the tax-payer, won’t get off the couch, lack participation, who go from the school gate to Centrelink’s front door, self-entitled, sitting at home playing X-box and eating cheezels and now the latest …The Taxed Nots.

The Taxed Nots – what should we do with them?

We need to drug test them, force them into unpaid labour, manage their income, give them a card to label them and not trust them with cash, push the welfare cops after them, get them moving, force them to live 45% below the poverty line and if they are poverty line newbie, we should starve them for six months whist the Government simultaneously breaches human rights obligations. .

With the exception of John Howard’s gem, “the undeserving poor” and Amanda Vanstone’s “Don’t try hard enough and refuse jobs”, these are just some of the labels the Australian Liberal Party has given to those seeking employment and just some of the ‘solutions’ to assist the jobless to find employment, since 2013. Pretty confronting when it is wrapped up in neat little paragraphs, isn’t it?

The dehumanisation and the stigmatisation of those seeking employment must cease immediately and a new narrative and new solutions need to start today.

A little history

Mutual obligation has always existed within the jobseeker framework. However, mutual obligation penalties were discretionary and mostly non financial (ie write on your dole form where you looked for work this week). However, postponement of payment could occur for up to two weeks. This was dropped in 1984 as it was causing hardship, but reinstated in 1987. The widening of activity based breaches will be discussed in the next section. Active Labour Market Participation (ALMP) programs were the shift towards paternalistic and punitive measures and financial penalties for the unemployed.

Active Labour Market Participation (ALMP) programs commenced under the Hawke/Keating Government. The original intention of the ALMP programs was to manage retraining and to assist new workers to move across industries in the new globalisation and at a time where long time unemployment was the new reality and had shifted from a long period of relatively low unemployment.

Zigarus ¹ (2004) sums up another driver as, “In essence, this approach holds that the unemployment rate is influenced by how actively the unemployed search for work. The more effort people make to find jobs, and the less choosy they are about what jobs they will take, the lower the overall unemployment.”

Regardless of how well intentioned ALMP programs were when they were introduced, the very essence of these programs are driven by the notion that the unemployed do not have the same desires to achieve a full life as the employed do and they are inherently lazy. Paternalistic and punitive welfare measures are also the antecedents to enabling the stigmatisation of the unemployed. The era of the ALMP programs were the beginning of segregating the unemployed as separate citizens from those who are employed – the bludgers and the workers. Even within the cohort of the unemployed, the narrative was able to change from discussing welfare as a necessity for those out of work to those who deserved assistance and those who did not. Those who needed a hand up and those who just wanted a hand out. This narrative continues today and it has become increasingly more comfortable for politicians to use this stigmatising rhetoric with conviction.

Punitive measures intensified under Howard

The shift in ALMP programs under John Howard introduced the concept that unpaid labour should be imposed on those seeking employment. Howard’s notion was to deserve a hand out, the recipient must give back to the community. This adds the public’s scrutinisation of the intentions of the jobseeker to the mix. Work for the Dole and similar unpaid labour programs normalised the perception that jobseekers had to be forced to work, as they were not motivated to do so; and if they were working as unpaid labour, this would be the impetus to force them to look for paid labour.

Financial Penalties under Howard

The Howard Government dismantled Keating’s Working Nation (job creation, increased Labor market programs and training and mutual obligation, including breaching penalties). Financial penalties increased and the activity for which you could be breached significantly widened under the Liberals “Australian’s Working Together” policy. The other notable shift from Keating’s policy to Howard’s policy was that financial penalties moved from discretionary to enforced by legislation and contractual obligation on the jobsearch provider.

The initial extremely punitive measures are outlined by Eardley et. al ² as:

The initial legislation proposed to strengthen breaching arrangements by extending the activity test non-payment period to six weeks for the first breach and 13 weeks for all subsequent breaches, while all administrative breaches would incur rate reductions of 25 per cent for eight weeks.

Welfare groups successfully lobbied and this initial bill was defeated in Parliament. However, less severe penalties were adopted. This included an 8 week breach of 100% loss of benefit after the third breach. The Abbott Government put up a bill in 2014 which sought to exempt new Newstart recipients from payment for six months. This has been defeated/taken off the table and a bill for Newstart recipients to be exempt for six weeks, is still progressing though today’s parliament. This shows the long standing determination of the Liberal Party to impose harsh and extreme measures on the unemployed. This also shows the shift from welfare as a human right to dignity, to one of targeting the disadvantaged as a means for budget savings.

Other notable changes

Structural changes to jobseeker programs to note (but not limited to) are:

  • The inclusion and shift from other benefits to jobseeker associated benefits (Single Parents and Disability recipients shifted to jobsearch programs.)
  • The increase in mutual obligation age brackets from 17-18 years, to 18-30 years to 18-49 years and now 18-60 years and over
  • Intensive case management
  • Enforceable preparing for work agreements
  • Increased obligation to search for more jobs, or a breach is imposed
  • The length of time travelled to search for job, or a breach is imposed
  • Relocation expectation
  • Implementation of Government approved doctors only (not jobseeker’s own doctor)
  • Shift to a jobsearch payment from Disability pension if you can work 30 hours per week down to 15 hours per week
  • Shift from Government provider to private contracted providers
  • Obligation to jobsearch if not employed for more than 70 hours per fortnight (jobsearch is a requirement although you have gained employment)
  • Income Management (Basic’s Card – non-cash component imposed)

The jobseeker’s positioning in Australia.

The reality of a jobseeker securing work in Australia, is that there are 19 jobseekers for every job available in Australia (as of May, 2016). That is however, not a true figure, as it needs to be considered that not all jobseekers are equally qualified for all jobs. Therefore, for some, the jobseeker to job vacancy ratio is much higher. In addition, vocational education and training has become less available and less accessible for those seeking employment; particularly in lower income brackets. Changes to eligibility for vocational training (ie The Certificate 3 Guarantee is for any eligible Queensland resident who does not already hold and is not currently enrolled into, a post-school Certificate III or higher qualification.) Therefore if you hold a cert III in one vocational area, for example beauty, you are not eligible to undertake vocational training at cert 3 level in business administration.

In addition, specialised services such as JPET (Job placement, employment and training for homeless and disadvantaged young people) have ceased and are now replaced with a one-stop-shop model of ‘streams’ of unemployment.

The Liberal Party’s small government, free market mindset, is an inherent propensity to shy away from job creation and allow the free market to ‘sort out the jobs’, rather than the socialisation of job creation projects. Government’s who do not commit to job creation are not complying with their mutual obligation to the nation’s unemployed citizens. The onus is completely on the jobseeker and the framework within the jobseeker must search for jobs, is unrealistic; secure full time jobs and skills development get increasingly more difficult to obtain.

It should also be noted that barriers to employment and the adverse outcomes of financial and other punitive measures are more severe for (but not limited to); Indigenous Australians, single parents, jobseekers with a disability, youth and homeless and disadvantaged jobseekers.

The new narrative and the new solutions

To achieve the re-humanisation and the de-stigmatisation of those seeking employment; the jobsearch model must shift to a jobseeker-centric framework and away from a budget savings measures framework where jobseekers are currently seen as a strain on the public purse and a dehumanised as a target for savings measures.

Therefore, the jobsearch framework needs to shift from one of mandatory participation to one of voluntary participation.

Jobseekers need to be allowed free agency to participate freely in jobsearch activities. To do this, the narrative needs to shift from the stigmatising rhetoric outlined in the beginning of this article to a more supportive narrative. Jobseekers should be given the support and recognition by Government that they have the same hopes, dreams and aims as the employed and are actively participating in job search to improve their life circumstance.

This then shifts the narrative away from the current underpinning assumption that jobseekers need a paternalistic guiding hand to motivate them; to a narrative that has the underpinning assumption that jobseekers are intrinsically motivated to seek employment.

This then shifts the onus for outcomes from the jobseeker and the public expectation to punish them for non-achievement to the public expectation that the Government of the day has an obligation to perform and enable an environment conducive to an expectation that secure employment can be achieved.

This should put pressure on the Government of the day to engage fully in job creation projects and the public less likely to accept the promises of a free market, small Government intervention model. This means that there would be an increase in the expectation that the Government would create jobs where it had the power to do so. This may include Government intervention to increase positions in all Government owned, operated and funded entities at local, state and federal level. This may also include Government intervention to make mandatory the requirement for quotas within Government funded infrastructure projects to achieve targets of employing those who are employed and underemployed.

This should also put pressure on the Government to ensure they meet the obligation of providing skills development opportunities for those seeking employment. This may mean the implementation of yearly quotas of trainees and apprentices for all Government owned and funded organisations. This would also place pressure on the Government to provide affordable access to TAFE and other training for all jobseekers, both under employed and unemployed.

In regional and rural areas where there is a higher concentration of unemployment; this should also put pressure on the Government to decentralise the public sector at state and federal level. In addition, pressure should be placed on the Government to provide attractive incentives for SME’s and large corporations to invest in relocations or start ups in regional and rural areas.

Government change to enhance the current model would also require the adoption of a basic wage, which will shift the public perception of one that jobseekers are welfare dependent, to a perception of a human right to a basic wage for all citizens. This will also enable the underemployed to be as competitive for jobs as the unemployed. Currently some incentives favour only the long term unemployed and lock the under employed out of the labour market. Punitive measures such as income management (basic card) and financial penalties would no longer need to exist.

The most critical shift that needs to occur is for citizens to reject the stigmatising narrative that currently exists around those seeking employment today; as this narrative is the antecedent for the entire burden of secure employment to fall on the jobseeker, rather than the onus of providing citizens with full, secure employment on the Government.

All of the above can be achieved and it can start with a rejection of the current dehumanising and stigmatising narrative surrounding jobseekers; and it should start with all of us today.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

 

1 Ziguras, Stephen (2004) “Australian Social Security Policy and Job-Seekers’ Motivation,” Journal of Economic and Social Policy: Vol. 9: No. 1, pp 1-24

2 Tony Eardley, Jude Brown, Margot Rawsthorne, Kate Norris, Liz Emrys, 2005, The impact of breaching on income support customers, Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW)

Originally published on Polyfeministix

Shorten’s Labor: Fair Go Mate!

The saying, ‘Fair Go Mate’ embodies so much of what Australians are about in three little words – a fair go. It sums up everything that is the backbone of who we are: to stand up to those who try to knock us down and don’t give us a chance – a fair go.

When someone judges us or our efforts unfairly or tries to knock us down and not give us a chance; in our beautiful, unique Australian vernacular we respond with “Fair Go, Mate!”

Every time I hear Bill Shorten speak, every positive policy he announces, he promotes something positive that will give Australians a fair go.

Woven into every rebuttal of the Liberal Government’s punitive, conservative, knock everything and everyone down rhetoric and policies, I hear Shorten say to Turnbull – “Fair Go, Mate!”

On July 3rd, we will wake up with either Labor or Liberals as our Government. There is no other choice. I understand that there is quite a movement of people wanting to vote for independent and minor parties; however, your vote will decide which one of the Major parties will rule us for the next three years.

We need to seek a clear majority for a Government to achieve good progress in their own right. Hung parliaments are not something ‘cool and trendy’ that teach anyone a lesson, nor are they something we should wish for. Being one seat away to the return of Campbell Newman/Joh Bjelke-Petersen type rule in Queensland, is not a pleasant thought. With 42 seats each, it is real fear. It is not a joke.

Please vote for a minor party or an independent, if you are truly dedicated to that party or individual. However, there are many people who state they will do this ‘to teach the majors a lesson.’ There seems to be a growing popularity that somehow this is a ‘trendy thing to do.’ Please don’t vote to be ‘trendy’ when so much is at stake. We are adults. Politics does matter. It changes lives. Please take your vote seriously, because with this election being so close, your vote is powerful and you will be a participant in real choice.

Malcolm Turnbull is correct when he has implored voters

“To vote as if your vote decides the election.”

This election is so close, your vote might do just that.

That choice is a Shorten Government or a Turnbull Government. That is it. No beating around the bush, no platitudes, no whimsical fancies of a minor party breaking history and winning 76 seats. Every single primary vote counts. It is Shorten or Turnbull. Your choice.

A choice between a fair go and progressive policies with Labor, or a continuation of stagnant, conservative and punitive measures with the Liberals.

On July 2, you will either vote for a Shorten Labor Government to give you a fair go and to be given a real chance, or you will vote to be knocked down by the Liberals and not given a chance.

The Liberals won’t care if you scream at them “Fair Go, Mate!” The Liberals see punishment as an incentive to push people to improve. It simply does not resonate with them.

Here are some of the choices you will be voting for:

Bill Shorten is saying to Turnbull “Fair Go, Mate” because Turnbull wants to knock kids down before they can get a quality education, by not properly funding schools.

Shorten will give kids a fair go by properly funding Gonski.

Bill Shorten is saying to Turnbull “Fair Go, Mate” because Turnbull wants to knock sick people down who don’t have the money to pay a GP Co-Payment, or fees for pathology and scans that are essential for diagnosis, by putting extra taxes on Medicare and making moves to privatise our national health insurance system.

Shorten will give sick people a fair go, by protecting Medicare and lifting the Medicare rebate freeze , so more Doctors have an incentive to bulk bill.
In two words: Medicare Stays.

Bill Shorten is saying to Turnbull “Fair Go, Mate” because Turnbull wants to knock LGBTI people down by spending $160 million dollars on an plebiscite, which will give voice to the homophobic anti-marriage equality lobby, to shout their enraged hate at LGBTI people, just to decide if they should have the same rights as every other citizen in the country.

Shorten will give LGBTI people a fair go, by legislating for Marriage Equality within the first 100 days.

Bill Shorten is saying to Turnbull “Fair Go, Mate” because Turnbull wants to knock Australians down, before they can even begin to think about starting a business, or remaining competitive, or by preventing their education in a rural area, by giving Australians a second rate copper-laden National Broadband Network.

Shorten will give all Australians a fair go, by rolling out Fibre to the Premises and give Australians a first class technology fibre laden NBN

Bill Shorten is saying to Turnbull “Fair Go, Mate” because Turnbull wants to knock school leavers and mature aged students down, by deregulating some university fees, and locking some students out of higher education, based on their family’s wealth and not their hard work.

Shorten will give all University Students a fair go, by keeping higher education affordable and accessible for all students; creating STEM Scholarships and offering some places completely HECS Free.

Bill Shorten is saying to Turnbull “Fair Go, Mate” because Turnbull wants to knock jobseekers down by giving business a 50 billion dollar tax cut, which will only impact the economy by .01% – under the guise of “jobs and growth’ and offer $4 Internships.

Shorten will give business and jobseekers a fair go, by offering small business a $20,000 tax break if they hire, a ­mature-age jobseeker or someone under 25 and by committing that one in 10 jobs in Government infrastructure projects are apprentices.

Thank you Bill Shorten, for bringing the Fair Go from underneath the layers of political rhetoric voters need to sift through at election time and just placing it smack bang in the middle of the table, in arms reach, right next to the sauce.

Shorten summed this up nicely in his speech at the Labor Launch this morning when speaking of the fair go that underpins what Labor is about:

Today, my remarkable team and I offer ourselves as an new Government, dedicated to Australian’s oldest proposition – A Fair Go all around. A Labor Govt that recognised that Australia has always grown stronger and richer, by including everyone in opportunity, and leaving no-one behind.

and

We will be a Labor Government that will always put people first, in the finest tradition of this great country we all love together.

You can watch more about Labor’s Fair Go Here:

Please make your vote count!

Originally published on Polyfeministix

 

Bill Shorten’s Address at ALP National Conference on Asylum Seeker Policy – Key points

Below is the video of Bill Shorten’s address at the Labor Conference, regarding Asylum Seeker and immigration policies. Key points from the address are listed below:

Key Points:

  • Immigration has been one of the secrets of Australia’s success.
  • Shorten believes in a new direction for Australia’s immigration policies
  • Accept more refugees and ensure we treat refugees more humanely
  • Shorten guarantees to keep closed the lethal journey between Java and Christmas Island, which claims lives.
  • Australia can be the greater, kinder nation, we want our children to see.
  • A Labor Govt will keep more people safe in a more humane way
    • Safe from persecution by dictatorial regimes
    • Safe from the exploitation of criminal people smugglers who prey upon the vulnerable.
    • Safe from abuse in facilities which even fail to meet the basic standard of decency
    • Safe from losing people they love from having families torn apart from drownings at sea
  • In addressing this, unlike the Liberal National Coalition, we do not play to the politics of fear
  • Labor will never use labels to denigrate desperate people
  • Fleeing persecution is not a crime
  • We will not pander to a noisy tiny minority who will never embrace multi-cultural Australia
  • Shorten acknowledges the history of Asylum seeker policy
  • We must ensure Navy, customs officials and border force people never again pull bodies from waters
  • We must maintain regional settlement agreements Labor introduced. Safest deterrent to people smugglers
  • Under Labor’s policies people smugglers cannot falsely advertise settlement in Australia
  • There are now over 60 million displaced people in the world through no fault of their own and this will only increase
  • Risking lives in unsafe vessels will only increase and desperation will become more intense.
  • We should never tolerate the exploitation of vulnerable people.
  • We cannot allow people smugglers to take advantage of perceived weakness.
  • We need to ensure people smugglers cannot traffic vulnerable people.
  • We need to ensure Australia provides safe haven to a greater share of refugees
  • Displaced people will arrive here more safely.
  • We must have the option of turning boats around provided it is safe to do so.
  • By 2025, a Labor Govt will double Australia’s annual refugee intake to 27,000 people.
  • Labor will dedicate a portion of our program to resettling refugees from our region.
  • Labor will abolish temporary protection visas
  • Labor will reinstate the United Nations Refugee Convention in the Migration Act.
  • Labor will reverse the Abbott Govt’s retrograde efforts to undermine international law
  • Labor will deliver historic 450 million dollars to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees
  • Labor will take up overdue leadership role to work and engage with our neighbours, including Indonesia
  • Labor supports regional processing.
  • Processing offshore does not mean we can offshore or outsource our humanity
  • Vulnerable people should never be subject to degrading violence in Australia’s name.
  • To guarantee safety Labor will implement Independent oversight of every Australian funded facility
  • Labor will ensure refugee claims are processed as quickly as possible.
  • Labor will restore access to the refugee review tribunal
  • Labor will ensure increased transparency for processing times.
  • Labor will fulfil the solemn duty we owe to children.
  • Labor will end the moral shame of children in detention as quickly as possible.
  • Labor will establish an Independent Children’s Advocate
  • Independent Children’s advocate will be separate from Department, Minister & Government, serving only the interests of children.
  • In addition to Whistle Blower safeguards, Labor will legislate to impose mandatory reporting of any child abuse in all facilities.
  • Labor’s plan ensures Australia takes a fair share of refugees
  • Labor’s plan ensures refugees in our care are treated with humanity and dignity
  • Labor’s plan ensures that Australia steps up and fulfils a greater responsibility as a global citizen
  • Shorten says he did not enter politics to shirk hard decisions and hard issues
  • Shorten is determined for our country to be responsible in the world and secure at home
  • Shorten is determined for us to be a welcoming, kind, compassionate and safe destination
  • Shorten is determined Labor will achieve this for Australia.

*Video sourced from Bill Shorten’s Facebook page.

Originally published on Polyfeministix

Writing the Narrative, or should that be “Righting the Narrative”?

narrative

 

“As a result, a story has emerged about Labor that goes like this. Faced with the transformation of its old supporter base, and having failed to build a new one, it has lost belief and self-belief. Machine men predominate. Policy is made only with an eye on the focus groups.

 

But another story is also true. Through a traumatic period, Labor ministers have focused on producing good policy. They deserve more credit for it than they have got. Their response to the global financial crisis led the world, and they have kept the economy strong since then.”

A Year in My Father’s Business James Button

 

“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has admitted Labor did not have a mandate for introducing a carbon tax, naming it as a major policy the party “got wrong” during its term in Government.

Asked on Insiders this morning why the Government deserved to be re-elected, he said all governments make mistakes.

ABC NEWS 25th August, 2013

We initially were told that Gillard was the worst Prime Minister since Whitlam before it was decided that she was the worst PM ever. So, I’m going to throw a couple of questions out here, just for fun.

How much net debt did the Fraser Government inherit from Whitlam?*

Which Australian Government left the highest debt to GDP ratio when leaving office?

The answer to those two questions may surprise you. The answer to the first is “None”#, while the answer to the second is the Fraser Government, with Howard as Treasurer.

Howard’s record as a Treasurer is impressive, he remains the only one to get the 10% inflation while unemployment was also 10%. When Howard was PM, rather than use the proceeds of the mining boom to build infrastructure or to invest in our future, he established more middle-class welfare like the Baby Bonus or the private health insurance subsidy

Yet, somehow the Liberals have been able to write the narrative that they’ve been good economic managers. Whitlam had to deal with the oil shocks of the 70’s, and Rudd/Gillard had the Global Financial Crisis. And somehow, the Liberal narrative ignores these to suggest that it was thanks to Labor that these things occurred.

How?

Well, Labor doesn’t exactly help itself. Kevin Rudd’s mea culpa on the Carbon Tax is symptomatic. “We made mistakes, but we’ve learned” seems to be the way Labor approach being voted out of office.

Rudd, of course, made that comment while still Prime Minister, so he got in early. Labor reacts like someone who feels the relationship break-up was all their fault. “I know that it’s not you, it’s me. What can I do to get you back?”

The Liberals react like someone who should have a restraining order. “I’m going to stand here throwing rocks through your window until you realise you should take me back!”

Labor thinks they get voted out because they’ve made too many mistakes, whereas the Liberals seem to think that it’s the electorate whose made the mistake.

I’d like to see someone from the Labor side of politics say that Whitlam was a far more successful Prime Minister than Malcolm Fraser. He achieved most of his agenda and is probably proud of the way he left Australia. Medicare, for one thing.

Hawke and Keating transformed the economy. Rudd and Gillard saw us through the GFC and established the NDIS. I know there’s more. but it’s Labor who should be selling the narrative of their achievements, not apologising for the bits they got wrong.

(When did you ever hear Abbott or Hockey say that the Howard Government was anything less than perfect?)

Howard? His greatest achievement was the Goods and Services Tax – he said so himself. (Although, I think most of us would have said gun control.)

And Fraser? Well, he promoted Howard to the role of Treasurer. Perhaps, there’s something I missed.

  • http://www.marketeconomics.com.au/2024-labor-or-liberal-government-debt

#Many dispute this. I read the reasons. It’s a bit like an argument that Isaac Newton didn’t contribute to Science because Gravity hadn’t been invented then, and anyway, the story about the apple tree isn’t real.