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The vilification of Australia’s most vulnerable people

By Tina Clausen

What makes some think people on Centrelink benefits are more likely to over-spend on non-essential items than other people in society, and more likely to gamble, abuse drugs, alcohol and neglect their children? They are ordinary, normal adults like anyone else and just as capable as the rest of Australia’s people of managing their own finances and budgets without a private company telling them how and where to spend their money.

Is the Cashless Welfare Card suddenly a cure-all for addiction, child neglect or abuse, unemployment, being a single parent, being ill or disabled, being a student, for the very ‘crime’ of being in receipt of a Social Security payment?

Our Government, particularly, seems to want to entrench in the public mind the view that the card will cure unemployment. This despite limited employment options nation-wide (depending on which statistics are being used, only 1 job available for between every 10 to 17 job seekers) and there already being extremely stringent and punitive mutual obligation requirements in place for job-seekers. Managed via the much (and justly) maligned privatised for-profit Job Network Agencies.

I guess if our Government can blame the unemployed for not being able to find a job they don’t have to work on creating more employment opportunities in Australia. This despite most of our manufacturing industries having shut down, large corporations and companies outsourcing work offshore, advanced technology making jobs obsolete, many tens of thousands of work visas given out to bring in ‘cheap’ and at times less skilled overseas workers, mining companies etc slowly automating more and more of their work and so on.

But no, let us keep blaming the unemployed, people with disabilities, single parents, aged pensioners, young people and students by shaming them and calling them bludgers and rorters and whatever else the Murdoch owned mass media suggest in their monthly bash-a-welfare-bludger stories on A Current Affair, Sunrise, Newscorp media, ninemsn etc. All pushing the far-right-wing agenda of making the poor poorer and the rich richer and brain-washing ‘workers’ into believing all their trials and tribulations are the fault of the most vulnerable in society.

The ultra-rich far-right propaganda machine has spent years enticing the working-class into turning on Centrelink beneficiaries while the wealthy elite, huge multinational industries and corporate Australia are laughing all the way to the bank and even more so at our stupidity. Fighting each other makes us blind to where the real rorting is going on. $65 billion in tax cuts for big businesses ring a bell for anyone? How about large corporations paying $0 tax on $50 billion profits?

A social class division based on how, where and from whom we receive our living income based on individual circumstances has sprung up and is tearing apart and destroying our communities. The most vulnerable of our citizens are being subjected to a constant barrage of bullying, harassment and vilification by those who would formerly have been the first to give them a helping hand up.

Australia used to be a great nation, we always supported our battlers and we were sure in our belief we were all equal citizens. No longer is this the case. Now it’s dog eat dog and the spiteful and mean-spirited attacks on our fellow citizens is heartbreaking to behold.

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  1. clarelhdm

    It’s obvious. Most people want to believe the mantra that ‘you can make it if you try’, ie riches and status are all just a bit of hard work away. Because society is just and fair and rewards us all equally. So the poor and the jobless got to that position because they didn’t make the simple effort required to reap the rewards available to them. This is a more acceptable ‘truth’ to most Australians than facing the reality that society is actually unfair and unjust, and that rewards are NOT distributed equally and that disaster could hit any of us at any time (loss of job, health, spouse etc). That reality is one most Australians do not want face or address.

  2. Tina Clausen

    The Challenge is to change the myth of welfare being a burden on society and that there are givers and takers. A person with a disability, a pensioner or a person not employed are all still valued members of society who should be afforded the same rights as those that are employed. Inalienable rights should not be distributed on the basis of capacity to contribute profits to private pockets. Poverty is NOT an incentive to contribute more, it is a barrier to economic growth for all.

  3. Keitha Granville

    It is so easy to bash those at the bottom of the pile. The wealthy at the top have no clue about how hard it is to manage on limited income. You can have a job and still be poor. If you have unlimited discretionary spending money it never occurs to you as you sip your champagne at the races while having a flutter on your favourite horses that some people who have a little bit of money might like to do this too. Just because they can;t make a $10000 wager doesn’t mean they should be prevented from buying a Lotto ticket.
    It’s patronising, like being spoken down to as if they stupid. Not everyone is born with a silver spoon, not everyone gets the job of their dreams and a great salary. Lots will work their whole lives in low paid jobs with no prospects of getting anywhere further up the ladder. Nothing to do with how hard you try.
    Start looking after the ones with the least – the ones with the most don’t need any help.

  4. Florence nee Fedup

    Could one call the card and attack on unemployed, especially those under 30 social engineering? Indicating the belief, being unemployed or on benefits is a life choice. if you don’t conform, you will starve.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Lots will work HARD their whole life for low pay.


    Blaming the victims of incompetent economic management that causes unemployment is the LNP strategy for shifting the blame away from them for the unemployment and says ‘ we are creating jobs and have the right policies but these people just won’t take the jobs’. It is deception and dishonest. They are covering for their own corrupt and inept policies. Unemployment is a deliberate strategy in Australia for controlling inflation. It is also a direct result of using monetary policy as an anti inflation strategy. By increasing interest rates the Reserve Bank siphons money out of the economy and reduces consumer spending and hence reduces inflation. Interest rates in Australia are much higher compared to other developed countries – although the USA has caught up now but they only have 4.2 % unemployment whereas Australia has 5.6%. The Reserve Bank strategy also has the consequence of reducing the amount of jobs available because people have less money to spend. Less disposable income = less demand = lower prices ( i.e. lower inflation) but also = fewer jobs. That is their and the LNP strategy. Both the Reserve Bank and the ALP are part of the deception and have consented to the use of this strategy. As prices are reduced due to unemployment, the standard of living of working people is preserved by curtailing inflation. This effectively means the unemployed are in fact subsidizing the life styles of people with more money than themselves. That is how immoral this country has become. Use the unemployed to indirectly subsidize the lifestyles of the better off and then persecute them. Disgraceful scum. Here’s a link to the Reserve Bank on its inflation agreement with governments of the major parties

  7. tories out!

    those at the top encourage those in the middle to bash those at the bottom so they can feel feel good about themselves and not look at what those at the top are really up to…

  8. Miss Pearce

    the sad truth is many of the older politicians heard stories from their parents, grandparents about one of our icons, the swagman era of the 1930s, that is still in living memory of a large proportion of our elderly populations. Many in their own families would have been the children sent out with a gun in the morning and told not to return unless they had a rabbit. (this story courtesy of elderly Tasmanian gentleman). Many of the politicians were not born rich, and their parents, grandparents experienced the impacts of a diabolical period in time, so it is sickening to realise these men and women have forgotten. I wonder if it is a bizarre nostalgia, or warped jealousy – or more likely pure greed shaping the proposals. Kidnappings for ransom, armed robberies, epidemics, pure desperation. Orphanages, mental hospitals. People needing to walk to the next town and register with the police so as to gain “rations”, and to discourage shantys. This is the foundation of Australia’s welfare system that mentions monies unimpeded, to be paid direct, and written in to law for a reason – NO prejudice! Enabling safety, dignity and self determination – NOT shame, broken spirit and racketeering. Many, like myself were born only 10 – 15 years after the end of WWII and would remember Australian apartheid that, back then, was based on skin tone and gender only! It is with disbelief I am watching co-creation en masse of a new Australian underclass! There is nothing to stop anyone, private individual or commercial enterprise, real estate, landlord, accomodation stating “we reserve the right to refuse welfare cards” due to the pre-launch hype that by default, anyone receiving legal entitlements of social security is a criminal, substance abuse or child assault or neglect. Keep fighting! Do NOT give in.


    More on the Reserve Bank and inflation,

    “since 1985 there has been an evolution in the focus of monetary policy. From an emphasis on a range of short-term objectives (including output, the exchange rate and the current account deficit) in the second half of the 1980s, to a greater emphasis on reducing inflation in the early 1990s, to a dual-objective (inflation and output) approach, to the current approach which is tightly focused on achieving an inflation target. Over the course of the past decade, Australian monetary policy has not always moved monotonically towards its current state but has tended to meander through a range of policy regimes. Consistent with past performance, the current inflation objective is sufficiently loosely defined that, if circumstances subsequently dictate, there is nothing to stop reversion in the focus of monetary policy to one giving renewed emphasis to unemployment and output or, even, for that matter, to the exchange rate or current account deficit.”

    In other words unemployment is not a primary consideration of the Reserve Bank atm but inflation is. That is the case despite the duties of the Reserve Bank in the Reserve Bank Act to work for full employment.

  10. Christopher

    We are led to believe that our taxes support those on welfare. That $83 of so of each person’s tax goes to the bludgers.

    This is a lie, the biggest you will ever hear.

    For a sovereign nation like Australia with a floating exchange rate and its own currency, it’s spend then tax, not the other way around.

    The Federal Government pays everyone on the welfare system simply by crediting their accounts. The fact that these payments are then accounted for in the budget and, because of the fiction that the budget must balance, taxes or borrowings support it.

    We never used to be like this. Australians need to wake up and realise that ‘taxpayers money’ is a con. Taxes simply destroy the dollars that the government has already spent. Too much money in the economy can lead to inflation and/or depreciation of our dollar. So taxes are necessary, but the amount we tax from ordinary wage earners can be much less if inflation and the exchange rate are managed properly. Tax the rich much, much more.

  11. Judith

    What about people who grow their own food, buy from op shops & live off grid & spend their welfare payments on vet bills, fuel or fencing wire – will they be punished for this & lose their payments?

  12. Mark Durl

    i was injured on the job when i was 26, im now 30. i have not been able to find a job since then. this has got to stop, we need leaders who encourage employment without allowing companies to import workers from overseas or sending the work overseas.

  13. Chris

    @Mark Durl while you can’t find work put whatever efforts you can into the sort of stuff that interests you, whatever that might be. Without many resources that can seem tricky or daunting but there is always a way to learn or be involved in most things that it is possible to access.
    People can even be helpful or of some assistance and sometimes it is your interests that may give you the contacts to find a job or work.
    Good luck and don’t let yourself give up it just wastes time. 🙂

  14. sam

    hold on, single parent is not always a choice

  15. Mark Durl

    @Chris i do have something that interests me, my daughter. part of the reason why i do want to go back to work, i made a full recovery from my injuries. the biggest problem i face is that im too experienced and im over 25.

  16. townsvilleblog

    I consirer myself very lucky, I left school at 14 in 1970 to work as a lowly paid shop assistant, I remained in that job for 3 years. Next I got a job as a builders labourer which I held for approximately 12 months, next came a job at a Nickel Refinery which lasted 9 months, then to the railway unloading wagons of freight, then a holiday to WA where no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a job, so I had to go on the dole. When I returned to Townsville, within 2 weeks I was working again, this time as a storeman, then at the same company on to be a sales clerk and eventually a purchasing clerk. This last jobs I held for 21 years until the company due to their bullying and pressure to work unpaid overtime, drove me off my head and I had a nervous breakdown.

    My point is that at that time jobs for unskilled labour was plentiful and I could always find a job, fast forward to today, retail is in the doldrums, the Nickel Refinery employing 1,000 people has closed, the railway no longer handles freight, and Protector Safety has gone bankrupt. So, if you aren’t particularly academic, and not lucky enough to be taken on as an apprentice to learn a trade, these days you are pretty well buggered.

    We own our own home, my wife is working part time as an RN and we are doing OK, but I know that a lot of my fellow Australians are not. I do care, especially about homelessness, there is far too much homelessness in Australia, and yes the commercial TV supposedly current affairs shows are not worth watching, so I don’t. A grass roots movement has to begin to fight against these billion dollar (mostly yank) corporations not paying tax to begin with, when that is achieved (probably via a Labor government) we need to lobby for a standard government payment for each citizen to sustain life in Australia, as they do in Sweden only then can we begin working with vigor on all Australia’s social problems.

  17. townsvilleblog

    Chris, all good advice however advice is fine in theory, when put into practice it can become a whole different matter, and doesn’y necessarily lead to a full time or even part time job. I understand that you are the eternal optimist, however I am the eternal realist.

  18. helvityni

    townsvilleblog, the Swedes are pretty progressive, but I believe it’s Finland that is doing a trial by giving two thousand unemployed people a basic wage…I think it was going to be a two year experiment.

  19. roma guerin

    Amongst the bland/boring/repeats on ABC tv, I watched a late night programme from UK last week about a long-term plan from, I think, the USA, to bring the world into exactly where we find ourselves now. I think it was dreamed up in the 1970s, and the aberrations of the 1980s were the first stage of the plan. My jaw was dropping but I was tired. I meant to look it up the next day to see if it was on iView but I forgot. Did anyone else see it? It seemed to be portraying massive manipulation, carefully orchestrated, over decades.

  20. Chris

    @Mark Durl I have a longstanding work injury that isn’t getting better, have no income, luckily I still have a partner most of the time and she now works fulltime(not really but it works out like that) and has too much responsibilty, I have no capacity to deaL with or negotiate centrelink, i don’t drive(never have), the nbn made my phone unusable most of the time (i don’t have a mobile…but don’t go anywhere much), I have an excellent daughter and a son who just started high school who is very together(so far).
    I can have an excellent time having a bad time. I’m not trying to boast or show off….just saying that it can be done. Make yourself laugh because you have to.
    I really doubt that I can fit into or fit in a real job of any kind that I know of. Whatever.
    Just don’t punish yourself and try not to punish the ones you love and don’t let it get you down. Being sad is ok just don’t be pathological about it.
    I hope my experience helps. I’m a bit older than you (which means little)…even though my sons friends think they are a bit too mature for me sometimes. 😉

    PS. As I tell my kids …..To a great degree you have some control over your own brain. Don’t waste that bit of influence that you have.

  21. Chris

    @townsvillblog No No I’m not an optimist…..

    I started my own Narrenzunft. Membership one.


  22. Mark Durl

    id just be happy not to be on the dole, to be able to finish paying my car off, and actually look at putting down a deposit to buy a place, renting is driving me insane

  23. Chris

    Fair enough mate. Keep at it. 🙂

  24. Peter of Adelaide

    Read these four books on rotation, and why.

    ‘The richest man in babylon’
    – How to handle money

    ‘The magic of thinking big’
    – How to plan for the future

    ‘Rich dad, Poor dad’
    – How to think about money and work

    ‘How to win friends and influence people’
    – How to interact with people

    Read these and your future will likely be better than it is now. I’m on an invalid pension, so I’m not currently being bothered by Centrelink, I’m under no disillusionment that it will remain that way. I am working my way to independence, I recommend you do as well, or at least try.

    Even if you do not become seriously wealthy, these books, and others you might read, will change how you view situations, and will nonetheless benefit you for life.

  25. Rob

    Roma Guerin, thinking the program you refer to was by Jacques Perretti. A UK journalist with a very good grasp of whats going wrong and why it started “The Super Rich and Us’ 2015. A two part documentary. I saw Part one an missed part two. He also blew the whistle on the Cayman Islands, Britain’s Trillion Pound Island – Inside Cayman (2016) Peretti flies under the radar even in the UK, he shouldn’t be ignored.

  26. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Day 20
    Any feedback yet?@billshortenmp @AustralianLabor
    VOW DOUBLE Newstart
    STOP Mutual Obligations & Welfare Card
    INCREASE Allowable Paid Income
    WIDEN Sole Parent & DSP Benefits
    Universal Basic Income NOW

    After 5 BAD years of LNP, Labor must make Newstart livable/decent

    This is an example of my daily campaign on Twitter, so as to get Labor to commit to catching up on where our constitutional Social Security rights should be now being addressed.

    We can see the LNP are in their death throes, so there is NO time to waste to get Labor planning and committing to how they will improve the lives of our most vulnerable Australians.

  27. Tina Clausen

    Thank you for your comments.

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