Morrison woos Gladys to attack ICAC

You can smell the exhaust, the burnt rubber and a thousand cigarettes,…

How do we make an ideal society?

If you were starting from scratch wanting to build an ideal society,…

A Tale Of Two Leaders But Whatever You…

A few days ago, I was tempted to write a scathing piece…

Punishing the Unvaccinated: Europe’s COVID-19 Health Experiment

Forget any notions of juicy carrots; the stick approach of savage punishment…

Undermining trust in institutions is a dangerous game…

The longer the Coalition remain in power, the greater their arrogance and…

The Morrison enigma

By Ad astra It’s becoming alarming. Every day our Prime Minister becomes more…

If Gladys is a “great candidate”, our country…

By TBS Newsbot Gladys Berejiklian managing to resign in disgrace, face the ICAC…

Let’s be clear, Gladys Berejiklian is being investigated…

Over the last few days, there has been a full court press…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: lifters and leaners

Changing our Welfare Mindset

By Loz Lawrey

There is no issue that better highlights the polarisation of opinion in Australian society than welfare.

Even though the rich benefit from “hidden welfare” in the form of tax breaks, negative gearing, tax minimisation schemes, paid parental leave etc, the demonisation of welfare recipients always lands squarely on the shoulders of those most in need of real support and assistance.

The unemployed, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, indigenous Australians, war veteransthe list of society’s wounded is a long one. Sadly, those who dwell at the more vulnerable end of our social spectrum tend to be the very ones under constant attack from both government and media.

Who hasn’t noticed the dismissive, judgmental rhetoric coming from government ministers using labels such as “leaners” or “welfare cheats” to marginalise and condemn those who need help? Every statement we hear from the federal government implies that welfare recipients are lazy dole-bludgers playing the system and stealing taxpayer dollars. With media collusion over time, this patently false perception has taken hold in the minds of many working Australians.

When the March Australia movement was approached by welfare recipient Keith Davis to help organise a National Welfare March, the idea struck a chord with many of our volunteers.

Here was something positive we could do to help to focus attention on the need for positive change in attitudes to and treatment of welfare recipients. The National Welfare March aims to raise public awareness of the punitive nature of our welfare system and demand a fairer welfare response from government.

Over the past few weeks we’ve come to understand more about attitudes to welfare in our community. One thing we’ve learned is that those who hold negative perceptions of welfare and its recipients are often ignorant of the facts on the ground.

It’s very easy to dismiss people as bludgers if you yourself are working and can pay your own way. Why waste time learning about “losers on welfare” when you’re financially successful and a “winner” in your own mind?

Since it came to office the Abbott government has been hard at work fragmenting Australian society as it singles out minority groups for demonisation. Welfare recipients are portrayed as “cheats” and Muslims as likely “terrorists”. Other groups such as victims of domestic violence aren’t overtly attacked, rather simply ignored. Refugee asylum seekers are hidden from view.

A blatant “divide and conquer” strategy is being implemented. Abbott uses fear of “otherness” to garner support, telling a nervous electorate he will keep us safe from the dangers he has conjured up and told us we should fear.

Sadly, not everyone in our social democracy favours inclusion and social support based on the concept of “collective provision”. I have been stunned at comments such as these appearing on our National Welfare March Facebook page:

“So let’s get this correct. The least productive in society are marching to demand “more” at the expense of the most productive in society? Don’t bite the hand that literally feeds you.”

or

“I simply prefer a world where I keep the wealth that I generate. If and when I’m feeling generous, that is why we have a little thing called charity.”

This person goes on to say that those who require welfare payments are “fiscally incompetent or irresponsible”, that they have an “entitlement attitude” and that “people are poor because they make poor financial decisions, it really is this simple.“

There it is. This person could be one of Abbott’s cabinet ministers. Call it fascist, sociopathic, neoliberal, arch-conservative, hard-rightwing, whatever, it’s a mindset that must change.

It must change because it is based on lies and false assumptions. It is an arrogant, unfair and elitist worldview which dismisses as irrelevant the poorer, more disadvantaged sectors of our society.

In Australia it’s a struggle to survive on the minimum wage. On current levels of Newstart allowance it’s impossible to survive without extra charity from family or social support agencies. There is no “security” in our social security system. Being on welfare means being sentenced to a stress-filled life of struggle lived under constant threat of the possible termination of benefits.

By raising welfare entitlements to a level closer to the minimum wage the punitive aspect of our safety net would be removed. The resulting improvement in wellbeing would have positive flow-on effects for all of us. Crime rates would lessen. More money would circulate through our economy.

Casting welfare recipients as “other” or “lesser” belies the fact that we are all, now and then, welfare recipients of one kind or another. Even rich mining magnates benefit from tax concessions and industry incentives.

Welfare issues affect every sector and age group in our society; if not you, then someone you know. Most people have dealings with Centrelink and often Job Services Australia (Job Network) at some time in their lives.

Many of us are only one pay-packet ahead of financial insolvency. Lose your job, have an accident or perhaps a health issue and within weeks you may lose your home. Sometimes relationship or family breakdown, even homelessness, can follow.

In Australia the word welfare has come to be associated with laziness and social and financial failure. While in the odd case this may be true, it is clearly an unfair and false generalisation spruiked by those who can’t be bothered to inform themselves of the real facts around welfare on the ground.

After all, if you’ve never spent a thankless year unsuccessfully chasing work while your savings and asset base dwindles, how are you entitled to even comment on welfare issues? You’ve never been there, on the wrong end of the stick. If you have an opinion, what is it based on?

I myself have been on the wrong side of the welfare counter. It was not a pleasant place to be. Years ago I worked full-time for six months on a work-for-the-dole program in my local shire council offices alongside others on full pay.

Under this carrot-and-stick program I was promised possible work in the future (carrot) and threatened with loss of welfare payments (stick) if I didn’t comply. I made the same commitment to my employer, the same effort as other employees, but couldn’t pay my way or support my family. We struggled to pay the bills as our debts increased and my self-esteem diminished.

The memory of those times is very vivid for me and fans a flame of empathy for all welfare recipients, because I myself have been there. I know the soul-destroying experience of being stuck in that Centrelink queue.

It’s always easy to dismiss others with a few harsh words of judgment and elevate ourselves in our own minds, but attitudes to welfare provision which are rooted in ignorance and lack of human empathy can only be changed by educating and informing.

Perhaps the only way concerned Australians can arrest the Abbott-driven stampede towards the social abyss is to publicise the true facts behind every government policy, every action this government takes. How else can we cut through the spin and show the world that the emperor has no clothes?

Let’s pierce the membrane of lies and and misrepresentation behind which the government hides its true agenda. Peoples’ attitudes are very much informed and shaped by the mass media they’re exposed to. If we’re being fed a diet of obfuscation and misinformation then we’re being misled, some might even say brainwashed.

The March Australia National Welfare March rallies aim to change the public’s negative perceptions and end the demonisation of people who simply need help. It’s time to restore a sense of balance and social justice to the welfare paradigm. Our nation must embrace all its citizens equally. We must refuse to allow this federal government to divide and conquer us.

We know that some Australians don’t care. The Abbott government is doing its best to ensure that many more will stop caring. This is our challenge. How do we change the mindset of a nation? We work to inform the nation.

If you have questions or wish to volunteer or know more about the National Welfare March to be held in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth/Fremantle, Wodonga (Vic) and Hobart on the weekend of 11 -12 July, please contact March Australia at:
Email: info@marchaustralia.com
Website: marchaustralia.com
Twitter: @WelfareMarch

Rallies Locations

 

Unleash the hounds

image by 2p.com

image by 2p.com

I have often impressed on my children that it is easy to lie, cheat and steal (if I was an Abbott fan I could stop there), but it diminishes you. You must set your own standards. You must value your integrity and be honest so others may be confident in trusting you (plus your stress levels will be much lower). You must respect the rights of others, from their possessions to their feelings. You must try to make a positive contribution to the world. And when you fall down, as you must at times, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and learn from the experience.

I have also stressed to them that every person has something interesting about them and if you listen then you will find it. We don’t all have the same skills or the same interests or opinions but we all have something to contribute. I often hear people say that respect is earned – I disagree. One should always start from a position of respect – contempt is earned.

I don’t admire people who can throw a punch – I admire people who can avoid punching, or people who can take a punch and not retaliate. There is nothing “best and fairest” about hitting someone Tony. I admire people who do what they can to improve the lives of others and to make other people happy.

I realise this is very idealistic and no-one is perfect but, as a working brief, they are reasonable aspirations.

And then we have this government who, by their language and actions, have gone against these very principles. They have unleashed the hounds and Australia is the poorer for it.

Let’s start with climate change.

Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd reached consensus on the need for an ETS and the majority of Australian people supported taking action on climate change. And then along comes Tone who, in return for a complete turnaround on his previously stated support for carbon pricing, was gifted the leadership by the deniers in the Liberal Party.

In Malcolm Turnbull’s own words:

“the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.”

Tony himself has in just four or five months publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and if the amendments were satisfactory passing it, and now the blocking of it.

His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this, but…..”

Tony then went on an attack dog campaign directed at “working families”, branding Julia Gillard a liar and making wild assertions about $100 lamb roasts and whole towns disappearing, none of which came to fruition. The effect of carbon pricing on the cost of living was estimated to be 0.7%, far short of the 2.5% increase brought about by the introduction of the GST.

Somehow he was able to make people forget that electricity prices had been increasing rapidly for the past two decades with an increase of 170% from 1995 to 2012 – the carbon price was to blame!

He also studiously avoided mentioning the compensation package which saw the proceeds of the carbon tax redistributed to pensioners, families, and trade exposed industries. Seniors groups determined that 93 per cent of pensioner households would be at least 20 per cent better off.

“The discussion about carbon tax is very lopsided at the moment, in that all of the emphasis is on the extra costs that will be born through the tax, but not on the money that will flow back to households through other payments,” said Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University.

Tony’s campaign of fear worked even though it was based on lies. Denialists, sceptics, and conspiracy theorists were given a validity they did not merit and a platform to spout their rubbish. Tony even appeared at a speaking engagement with that fruitcake Monckton who all of a sudden found the ABC, under Maurice Newman, a willing participant in his bullshit

Since coming to power, denialists have been appointed to every advisory role and, regardless of their lack of expertise, their voice has drowned out that of the scientists. From Tony’s page:

Tony Burns: Come on Scott, true believer. In your own words, what is the EVIDENCE that man’s CO2 has caused any of the warming since the Little Ice Age ? … the warming that STOPPED 2 decades ago.

Connie Handbury: I’m sick and tired of the scientific community being bandied around as if they were gods and must be believed and obeyed. Only a small number of wizards ever got anything right and there is good documentary evidence in the star treck trilogy that they were time travellers.

And then we have the disgraceful unleashing of the racist bigots in our society in a very purposeful campaign.

Demonising asylum seekers for political gain was a new low which began with John Howard and was gleefully taken up by Abbott. Who could forget the weeks of Parliament devoted to the “convicted Egyptian jihadist terrorist kept behind a pool fence”. This disgraceful episode is Australia’s version of Peter Greste.

In fact Mr Abdellatif was never charged or convicted on serious terrorism crimes in his native Egypt and turned out not to be a national security threat. He identified himself immediately on reaching Australia and made them aware of the charges against him and provided evidence refuting them.

But because of the campaign of lies waged by the Opposition, Mr Abdellatif was removed from his family and locked up in high-security at Villawood where he remains to this day despite Interpol agreeing he poses no threat.

“I have been separated from my family in detention for over a year for no reason,” he told Fairfax Media. “The separation has been extremely stressful for all my family including my children. We should be reunited and allowed to live in the community. The Immigration department has ignored the new information from Egypt that reveals clearly that all the charges against me are politically motivated and are baseless,” he said. “I am as innocent as the Al-Jazeera journalists who are also the victims of a political trial by the Egyptian military.”

We then had the “feisty, sexy” Fiona Scott suggesting that asylum seekers were responsible for clogging up our highways and hospital waiting rooms.

Reporter: So you mention asylum seekers and overcrowding. I don’t quite get the connection.

Fiona Scott: Well, my recommendation is go and sit in the Emergency Department of Nepean Hospital or go and sit on the M4 and people see 50,000 people come in by boat; that’s more than twice the population of Glenmore Park where we just were.

She later qualified these remarks saying she is not blaming the 161 asylum seekers living in the area for a lack of services in western Sydney, but simply reflecting the concerns of a community she seeks to represent. Rather than allaying the unfounded fears of her constituents, she chose to exploit them.

And of course, we had the concerted campaign by George Brandis and boy wonder, Tim Wilson, to water down racial discrimination laws and champion the rights of bigots to be racist and didn’t the bigots flood out from underneath their rocks. They have been given official sanction for their hatred and Liberal Party pages are full of their vile poison. The following is an exchange I had on Tony Abbott’s facebook page:

Mary McIntosh: I don’t consider having gold credit cards, I phones, digital cameras and the like the possessions of desperate “poor” asylum seekers. They then have the hide to complain they were given food that was out of date.

Kaye Lee: Mary, they are fleeing persecution. It is often the professional people who are targeted…academics, journalists. Seeking asylum isn’t means tested. I am horrified by the selfishness of today’s Australia.

Mary McIntosh: Well if you are so unselfish, how about you take in about half a dozen and fully support them, you know food, clothe them, provide housing, all medical and dental needs etc and show us up as the selfish people of Australia today. But if they are Muslims, don’t forget there will be no more bacon for breakfast, nor roast pork at Christmas. Silly me there won’t be Christmas for you because it offends them. Good luck

Jon. F.Edwards: Well said Mary McIntosh, but you forgot too mention that because she is unclean they will want too circumcise her, make her wear a Burka.

Not content with stirring up the racists, Tony has also made a deliberate strategy of classifying people as “lifters or leaners.” People who are disabled or unemployed or on a pension will now be vilified as a burden on our society.

I remember a period after university when my husband could not get a job in his profession so he applied for other jobs, only to be told he was overqualified – apparently they felt he would not stay so they would not employ him. And we are the lucky ones. I know of many people who have found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own. Those who are made redundant may find another job, only to be made redundant again – last in, first out. Young people with no experience can find it very difficult to get that first break. Unemployment is no picnic and living below the poverty line is a daily struggle.

So well done Tony. You have done more to change this country in your time as leader of your party than anyone before you. You have turned us into a global pariah and a domestic disgrace. Read the comments on your own Facebook page and understand that YOU are responsible for bringing out the very worst in what used to be a great country which, before you came along, was renowned for its contribution to the world and for lending a helping hand to those in need.