It is true that 2020 is behind us and that various vaccines for COVID-19, claimed to be effective, are in the process of being distributed – BUT – we still have a Coalition government, which is ruled by the same power group which has, initially under Nick Minchin’s influence, and for at least two decades, denied us government support for realistic action on climate change.
I suspect that being in power is an incredible aphrodisiac – at the flick of a pen you can refuse to accept valid advice and expect that your popularity in the right quarters will then ensure a comfortable retirement from politics – and to hell with all those powerless fools whose lives will be forever damaged in consequence!
Inequality, in addition to lack of action on global warming, is a vicious menace.
We have a government which takes a jackboot attitude towards the poor and the disabled.
Don’t for a moment believe that the proof of illegality of Robodebt will stop this government from enforcing draconian laws on those who lack the skills and the finance to protect themselves from government mistreatment.
The current push – which, once more, is possibly illegal – is for a cashless welfare card to be imposed on many communities, and individuals, on the arrogant assumption that the people affected are incapable of managing a budget and need protection from themselves because they will fritter money away on drugs and alcohol.
And this is not being applied only to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people, yet no one notices that it goes way beyond arrogant paternalism, as it smacks of an assumption that these people are incapable of learning how to manage their own money!
Too many decision makers – be they government Ministers or bureaucrats – lack lived experience. If you have never lost a limb, been born with a disability, suffered extreme poverty, etc, you are not really in a good position to understand the effect of these situations on others.
Particularly when it comes to dealing with people with any sort of mental illness, when to lose patience with them because they are not behaving – in your personal opinion – in a rational manner, is the height of stupidity on your part.
No person with any sort of mental impairment should ever be interviewed by officials in the absence of an advocate known to the interviewee. Have you ever heard of the Anunga rules in the NT in regard to Indigenous people in police custody?
This is an approach which needs to be adopted in all cases where any issues raised might affect the ability of either party in an interview to understand the other – whether it be language or mental capacity which is the applicable issue.
Our ATSI people are, in many parts of Australia, among the most disadvantaged people in the world. They struggle to maintain – or, in many cases, recover – a culture which is extremely important to them. As with many migrants, English is not even not necessarily their first language at home, it is often their third or fourth language.
Have you ever seen this map of Australia before?
Many ATSI people can speak in multiple languages. If they do not understand English, it is not because they are any more stupid than you are if you cannot understand a Chinese speaker – because you have never learned to speak fluent Chinese!
If the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted one thing, it is that the government’s main interest is in the economy. This is, in some instances, understandable, but governments MUST multi-task!
People are in second place – or, for particular groups, even lower down the priority list – so that the only thing admired by too many of our politicians is the ability to acquire, and enhance the nature of, wealth! If you are in entertainment or politics, being wealthy makes you the darling of the media but if you are disadvantaged in any way, neither media nor politicians really give a damn about you!
I subscribe to Crikey and, over this past year or two, they have been following research into NDIS.
We live in an era where the advice on which government Ministers seem to rely does not come from experienced Public Servants, but from political advisers, whose duties are centred – not on “What is best for the country?”, but “What is most likely to help win the next election?”
When people’s lives are being damaged in consequence of a totally flawed policy approach, something has to change.
And we who are electors have got to be much more vocal in making it clear that what we are being offered doesn’t begin to meet the pub test!
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