Are you angry enough yet? That is the question March Australia would like to know. In 2017, March in March are taking it to the streets again!
In 2014, Tony Abbott and the Liberal National Coalition Government saw the anger well up in so many people and March in March took it to the streets. Three years later the Australian people are still angry and Malcolm Turnbull, like Tony Abbott before him, still does not have a positive or progressive agenda.
Although this morning on Twitter John Wren thinks he knows where the Prime Minister’s agenda might be. If only Irona was not on holidays! ????
The Liberal and National Coalition Government is still NOT listening to the people and March in March is BACK!
The Liberal Government has failed miserably under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and the list of things the Australians are angry about is almost endless.
It is time to Stand Up Australia! Instead, this year bring your best banners of Fizza, as the Lyin King has been removed and replaced! Thank you Australia! Give yourselves a round of applause!
How Many are YOU Angry About?
Here is the list presented by March in March as some of the things you may be angry about. If you are angry about any of these things, something else, or maybe just the flat-out incompetence of the Turnbull Coalition Government – then get amongst it. Boots on the ground people!
As we saw with the influence that marches like these had on the influence of the removal of Tony Abbott and the influence of pure people power to remove Campbell Newman from power in Queensland, with Labor and other parties taking 40 seats off the LNP Government. The removal of the Newman LNP Government freed Queenslanders from mass sackings, removal of civil liberties and the closure of many vital and important public and community services and the privatisation of our important assets.
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.”
“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: email@example.com Website: marchaustralia.com Twitter: @WelfareMarch
Why do we march against the Abbott Government? Admittedly marching will not change the government or the government’s ideology, but it will help to raise awareness of important issues and get people thinking, writes Gosford organiser Kym.
I first came across the March in March at the end of last year, but took my time in deciding whether or not I wanted to be involved in an organisational role. One thing lead to another, and . . .
I had never been to a rally in my life, let alone help organise one! I guess that up until then I had never been around the right people or groups to think about becoming more involved; not just about the march itself, but also with the issues we were marching for or against. I had seen the media bias and I had seen the damage this bias had caused; both at a personal level and towards our national psyche. I knew that we could never rely on the media to support our cause. That, however, is a different story.
I know we are a ‘lucky’ country lucky because we do not have war or famine and are free to choose our beliefs. However I know from experience, observation and plenty of research that this beautiful rich country does have some great inequalities and injustices. I know enough to not believe everything the media says and that things aren’t as simple as black/white or lefties and Tories. I found March in March appealing because it was not aligned with any political party, was grassroots and calling for decency, transparency and accountability in government.
I put my hand up to help organise the Gosford march, on the NSW Central Coast. After taking this step and setting up the Gosord Facebook page (now Central Coast), I felt a bit overwhelmed and thought to myself “what have I just done”? I did a call out on the page for volunteers and had a great response. I set up a Facebook group we could liaise in and this grew into countless nights organising the march and and promoting it via the social media.
The Gosford March in March was very successful, with an estimated 1200 people marching, which is amazing for Gosford and probably the largest rally Gosford has ever had. Nationwide we were 100,000 strong. Even though 50,000 marched in Melbourne and we were seemingly hard to ignore, the mainstream media still managed to ignore us.
I also went to March in May in Sydney and was part of the organising team for March in August on the Central Coast. I have to say all three Marches were a positive and inspiring experience. They were well-organised, peaceful, and had great, well-informed speakers. There were a wide range of people represented: young, old, students, professionals, disabled, and people from a range of political back grounds, including a few disgruntled LNP voters.
If you have never been to a rally or don’t know anything about rallies, then it is easy to misunderstand the purpose of the March Australia Marches and dismiss the people marching as just lefties having a whinge or people who want handouts. That way it can be brushed under the carpet instead of acknowledging that most people who marched are hardworking, educated people who have paid taxes their whole life. Many are either personally affected or know someone who is affected by the government’s policies.
Many who aren’t affected are informed enough to know what the impacts of theses policies are on the poor and our environment. It is a strange thing when some of the people, who are most informed, genuinely concerned, and trying to contribute to making change for the better, are the ones labelled as lefties or whingers. I am actually not a member of any political party. Personally, I think we need a third major party and also to make some changes to ‘the system’. I don’t like to talk endlessly about politics or push my beliefs on to people, although I have no problem standing up for social justice, inequality, human rights and the environment. For me it is not about political parties but about humanity, truth and doing what is right.
It is quite easy to get caught up in propaganda without any real knowledge or understanding of the issues, where we have deep-seated political beliefs that aren’t based on any facts or of any use in reality. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all take the time to do a bit of research, use intelligent evaluation and actually have an adult conversation about some of the issues and come together up with some better solutions? It is time to move beyond the sudden deadly silence when anything remotely political is mentioned. Why can’t we promote understanding and education on issues, instead of judgement and fear? It is mind-boggling to have an election based around ‘stop the boats’ and ‘axe the tax’.
Are Australian’s really so concerned about a small amount of asylum seekers that wouldn’t even fill the stadium at Homebush? Especially since most asylum seekers come by plane? Do we ever hear ‘stop the planes’? What about ‘stop the ignorance’ and ‘stop the fear mongering’? Using words like ‘leaners’ and ‘illegals’ does nothing to help people understand the situation. Why not tell people that ‘it is not illegal to seek asylum, whether by boat, plane or any other means necessary’, and that most boat people have proved to be genuine refugees? It even says so on the parliamentary website. Why pander to people’s fear and ignorance? This type of ignorance is being fueled by political ideology and the media. If people were a little more educated then they most probably would have a different view. More understanding does not necessarily mean open borders either. It means we can work together on creating a more humane policy.
Australia has a fairly well-targeted welfare system. It was created as a safety net for those who need it most. Yes there is plenty of room for improvement, but labeling people as ‘leaners’ or wanting handouts does not help at all. This type of attitude and labeling creates unnecessary stigma and actually demoralises people. Most people on welfare payments do not want to be on welfare. Newstart is way below the minimum wage and very difficult to live on. Most want a job and do not want to be in the position they are in. It is unfair to lump everyone together, just because a few take advantage of the system. There will always be people who take advantage of the system, who lie, who steal. There are unfortunately some people like these everywhere, and in every industry. This type of stigma is not fair on pensioners, the single parents, low income families, those who were made redundant, who have not enough jobs in their area, who are disabled, ill . . . the list goes on and on.
What ever happened to the view that those doing it tough were seen as ‘Aussie battlers’? Everyone wants to add their judgements and criticisms. Before passing judgement about certain groups of people, ask yourself: have I ever experienced, met, worked with or found out more information about asylum seekers, homeless people, unemployed or people with a disability? If the answer is no, then why do you have such strong opinions on something you have no experience with and know nothing about? I understand that some people aren’t into politics, especially since watching parliament can be like watching a high school rabble. It is quite easy to see that type of nonsense and decide not give a crap, because whatever I or say do is not going to make much difference any way. I am too busy; I have my own life to live. I have a roof over my head, I have friends, I have beer, and it doesn’t affect me. Why should I care? Why should I go marching around like an idiot for something that doesn’t affect me? Why don’t people just contribute to democracy with their vote at the next election? These are some of the attitudes and comments I have come across. Is it really so silly to take the time to do some research and have some discussion about what is happening in our country and our communities? Are we just supposed to stick our head in the sand like an ostrich and be oblivious to everything until next election rolls around? Does it not matter that the funds have been ripped out of vital community services? My electorate has high youth unemployment rate and the local youth refuge has lost its funding. Maybe these youths should go and get a job. Who cares if there are more unemployed than jobs available, they should all just get a job. Does it not matter that there are homeless families sleeping in cars because there is a lack of services to support the homeless? Maybe these homeless should just chose not to be homeless. Does it not matter that abuse, domestic violence, redundancy and mental health issues are some of the reasons for homelessness? Does it not matter that my electorate has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Australia, yet funding to one of our local domestic violence support services has been cut? Legal aid has also been cut, so it is harder for women who are victims of domestic violence to ‘leave’. These are just a few of the many Central Coast, NSW issues. I’m sure each electorate has their own issues.
Marching will not change the government or the government’s ideology, but it will help to raise awareness of important issues and get people thinking, talking and contributing new ideas. We can’t all help everyone all the time or change the world on our own. Every person’s input makes a difference and when working together we can make change. We can all make the effort to question things and become a little more informed. This is the whole point of marching; to raise awareness and in unity work together for the common good: Australians. The more people that become aware, the more likely change will happen.