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Tony Abbott And The Unemployed Or Should We Congratulate Drug Dealers For Their Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Once a student of mine was writing an opinion piece about the drug problem. She was expressing rather simplistic solutions about how to solve it which basically involved performing unspeakable acts on people convicted of drug dealing.

Now, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for anyone using illicit drugs. All this talk of pill testing confuses young people and it would make them think that society actually cares about keeping them alive, but I did understand where she was coming from. However, I sensed that by attacking the dealers she was showing the sort of socialist tendencies that youth often exhibit. Of course, as a teacher, I shouldn’t be pushing my politics on students… Unless, of course, they’re not standing up for “Advance Australia Fair”. Anyway, I decided to play devil’s advocate and challenge her. After all, the popular view of the dealer pushing drugs on young children in order to get them hooked isn’t really the way most of the drug trade works. Most dealers can sell as much as they can lay their hands on and don’t need to go searching for new markets.

“Mm,” I said to her, “why are you so hostile to the dealers?”

“Well, there the ones who are responsible for the drugs,” she replied.

“Not really, the addicts are the ones responsible for the drugs. It’s all the fault of the addicts. If there were no market, there’d be no dealers.”

“The addicts are victims!” she insisted.

“Well, many dealers are addicts too. Are they victims or villains?”

She thought for a moment. “Both!”

“So, why are you hostile to one group of victims and not to the other?”

“Because the dealers are making a profit at other people’s expense.”

“Ok then, what do you think the dealers should do to make enough to feed their habit?”

“They should do what the other addicts do?”

“What? Break into people’s houses or rob grandmothers at the ATM?”

“You’re confusing me,” she said.

“Good,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”

“If you’re confused, you won’t write as though the solution is simply punishing people. We’ve been punishing drug users for years and has that solved the problem?”

“Maybe we just need to make the punishments harsher.”


At this point, I decided to quit the conversation. At least, I thought, I’d made her think a bit. Maybe she’d realise that punishment has just led to fuller jails, corruption and deaths and that treating addiction as a health problem might have better results for everyone. Except those who benefit from fuller jails and corruption.

Earlier this week, I was reminded of this conversation when I read a tweet from the Honorable Tony Abbott which said:

“People on unemployment benefits are supposed to be looking for work. Applying for one job a day is hardly unreasonable. These proposed changes show Labor is now the welfare class party not the working class one.”

Of course, this is one of those things- like harsher punishments for drug dealers – that sounds reasonable, untill you think abou it. People are meant to be looking for work and so applying for one job a day that’s a good thing, right?

Now let’s move it from the general to the particular. At various times over the past few years, I’ve been looking for work as a teacher. When I looked at the jobs available, there were sometimes jobs that I’m qualified for, but sometimes there weren’t. Using Abbott logic, should I apply for the Physics teacher job just so I’m applying for one job a day? Or should I just wait until there’s a suitable job?

I’m sure most people would think that it was wasting everyone’s time to be sending off applications for jobs that one wasn’t capable of doing. People would find it strange if I’d spent an hour or so a day preparing an application for a job that I wouldn’t be considered for, even if I were the only applicant. Yet the idea that the unemployed should be spending every single day searching for work, no matter how depressing that is, still seems to be prevalent. Ok, there aren’t enough jobs to go around, but we don’t want you to actually be ok with your unemployment. You need to face rejection every day or else you don’t deserve our support.

I wonder if we all sent our resumes to Abbott’s office, asking whether he had any jobs available, whether he’d be so sure that one application a day was such a good idea.

Interestingly he also tweeted: “Good to see more funds for youth mental health including at Brookvale. Governments can only spend more on services if the economy is being well managed.”

There’s always been an interesting disconnect between the balancing of budgets with services that are “welfare” and those which are “punitive”. For example, we may not have enough money to provide education, hospital beds, mental health support, drug rehab, safe houses for people fleeing domestic violence and so on. However, I’m yet to hear a politician say that we’re can’t afford the exorbitant cost of holding people in jail so we’re cutting everyone’s sentence by ten percent.

Of course, it’s always been an interesting contradiction in the Liberal rhetoric. It’s best to leave things to the invisible hand of the market, so we’re better not to do anything. However, when things are going well, it’s all thanks to their “management”.

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  1. Florence Howarth


  2. Diannaart

    A joy to read, Rossleigh, but, er, slipping from satire into serious political commentary?


  3. Vikingduk

    As we all know only too well, this pack of traitorous bludgers masquerading as a government would be hard pressed to organise a root in a brothel, a pissup in a brewery or find their way out of a wet paper bag.

    As far as the war on drugs, that was lost years ago at its inception. As far as marijuana goes, Amsterdam derives approximately 25% of its income from the licensed coffee shops, an income that they value and refused to adopt a short lived policy from the Netherlands government to restrict pot sales to locals only.

    Why is it that so many “conservatives” seem to conduct themselves as if they have heads filled with concrete?

  4. Florence Howarth

    Looking for a job in Abbott’s world is sending out a plea to all his acquaintances to find him a position. That is how he was hired for the job with the concrete yard after he was asked to leave the priesthood. Lasted three months, fired after he managed to create the first strike in the history of the firm.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Florence, that’s one of my favourite Abbott stories.

    A phone call came through at 5.30 the next morning from the senior plant operator saying: “Did you turn the conveyor belt on yesterday?”. I said “Yeh”. He says “Right – nothing moves – this plant’s black – like to see you get yourself out of this little fix Sonny Boy!” Ha, ha, has.

    So anyway, I drove out to the plant that morning, thinking well, you know, this is a bit of a problem. How do I solve this? I thought that there’s really only one thing to do, and that’s to beg. So I got over there and I said to the senior plant operator. I said: “Stan I’m sorry. I’m new in this industry. I appreciate that I’ve been a bit of a so-and-so, but you’ve made your point and I will try to be different.”

    He said to me: “It’s out of my hands. It’s in the hands of the union organiser.” So I said, who’s the union organiser and what’s his number? I rang him and I sort of begged and pleaded, and he said: “It’s more than my job’s worth to let this go. Bloody Pioneer are always pulling stunts like this. We’ve had enough of it! We’re sick of it! Got to do something.” So I said, well, look why don’t we put the old final warning. That if I ever do this again, I’ll be run out of the industry. And there was silence on the end of the phone, and after about ten seconds he said: “I’m putting you on a final warning mate, if this ever happens again you will be run out of the industry.”

    No more chances. It’s time to run the turkey out of our parliament.

  6. New England Cccky

    Rossleigh, “Ageism” is alive and well and dwelling in the Australian labour market. I have numerous professional and trade qualifications but was unable to get a start between Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville, partly because the kids who were responsible for culling the job applications at employment agencies were only looking for kids to fill the vacancies.

    @Kaye Lee: I like that story. VOTE ANYONE BUT NAT$

  7. Rossleigh

    Diannart, once Abbott became PM, there ceased to be a difference!

  8. Diannaart


    I know, honey, I know.

    Not to worry, there will always be a place for satirists in a post truth world, but it is a fraught path to tread.

  9. totaram

    Vikingduk: “Why is it that so many “conservatives” seem to conduct themselves as if they have heads filled with concrete?”

    Perhaps because their heads are indeed malfunctioning (aka filled with concrete)? There is some evidence to show that “conservatives” have brains that function differently. I’m glad you put that word in quotes. Those “conservatives” are anything but. They don’t want to conserve anything except perhaps the life of the 18th century, while carrying out the other wishes of their paymasters as faithful mercenaries.

    Rossleigh you are very clever indeed!

  10. paul walter

    No doubt, quite astounding double standards are in play when it comes to a comparison between illicit drugs and legal products. Consider the death toll involving legal Oxycontin and its related products against the toll involving opiates over the last twenty years with death tolls running into the hundreds of thousands over the last twenty years for ALL forms?

    Consider also the mess benzodiazepines have made of so many peoples lives also. ..”ethical” pharmaceuticals, indeed!

    Broadening the definition, we could include tobacco and alcohol as against cannabis also, although I confess to having become disillusioned with the weed and its side effects a fair while ago and am continuing to sample the delights of that most scandalous of pleasures, a clear head.

    I did see Tony Abbott’s face above and remark on his enthusiastic support for tobacco a few years ago against the sanctimony from that side of politics on the issue re things like pot; he is a true paradigm for this conversation.

    Widening further, we know gambling in various forms is legal and what harm that has done to many folk over time also, yet in parts of Britain and America you can be fined or even jailed for helping the poor.

    And god help the wretched unemployed if they attempt to ameliorate through little smoke of pill-pop. Then ACA and the Murdoch tabloids go beserk in self righteous indignation.

  11. Win Jeavons

    I knew a man ( who really should have been put on a disability pension, but this government does not want to recognize any more of them) who routinely applied for high end jobs such as brain surgeon. Just to deliberately expose the stupidity!

  12. helvityni

    “People on unemployment benefits are supposed to be looking for work. Applying for one job a day is hardly unreasonable. These proposed changes show Labor is now the welfare class party not the working class one.”

    WOW, I know young people with uni degrees looking for a job, they turn every stone but can’t find one….

    They move back home, they suffer from depression, they find themselves in Abbott’s “Bludger’s Party”….

    Having a go to get there…..

  13. ChristopherJ

    Thank you, Rossleigh. Yes, Helvityni, my youngest son graduated mid 2018 with business degree. Still working part time at Woolies. That non-dischargable debt burden he has is accruing interest…. whole generation of kids like him…

  14. Max Gross

    Why does the LNP attract the most loathesome, sordid and heartless types? Oh, wait, what, hang on…

  15. andrino apolloni

    The contempt I have for TA is overwhelming. He, single handedly destroyed the NBN. He is destructive because he has no other instinct. He has said so himself, ” we need to distinguish our policies from labor”. So labor puts up good policies and he tares them down because , they are not his. He is a liar. He said so himself, see the 730 report where he lays it on the line. He epitomizes all the worst in a human or politician. Any policy he puts up needs to be seen in the prism of differentiation, NOT GOOD POLICY. Any brain dead person who says climate change is crazy needs to be locked up, for our own good. We need coal power plant built by government, says he, when clearly solar is now cheaper, cleaner, modular so no Hugh upfront costs and highly valued by just about everyone. If the market wont finance a coal plant, isnt it time to move on?

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