Tag Archives: Poverty in Australia

Cynicism wins out over hope


A young social worker recently told me that her clients were showing deep cynicism toward “the government”. This includes any government, of any stripe, because where they once had hope that life could become more pleasant, or at least less punitive, now they realise that all governments are without compassion, or even understanding.

Of course she deals mainly with people who are involved with either welfare support, or child protection issues, maybe housing problems. Read that for ‘the poor’. Those who rely on the government to improve their lives, or to make it at least liveable.

The election of a Labor government has made no difference to this cohort, They still live on around $40 a day, their housing is hopelessly inadequate, if they have a roof over their heads; their prospects of finding decent work are often out of reach, their health is worse than anyone else’s.

The list is long, but if you choose to turn a blind eye to others’ suffering, it doesn’t matter. You have an opinion that you deserve that bottle of French bubbly, that quick holiday to the snow. You might not have thought too deeply about it, but your brunches on Sunday morning will continue, because you can afford it.

We as a society have become hardened by the endless rhetoric of so-called leaders, who have increasingly embraced the dog eat dog philosophy of the late 19th century. You know it, because you have heard it all, many times. “You get a go if you have a go.” “Life is a race.” “Tax cuts for the rich” because the last government promised them.

We don’t say it out loud, but most of us agree that the poor are being punished for their poor life choices. Of course we also know about the inequality built into the system, and the skills and intelligence lottery, the parents raffle, but best to blame the poor for their conditions. “She shouldn’t have married him” shouldn’t be worthy of a life sentence of abuse, or children going hungry.

We have developed a particularly selfish middle class in this country. Perhaps it is the loaded education system, where we pay a subsidy to educate the children of the rich, and those aspiring to be rich, while starving the public schools of resources. That way you get a never-ending supply of what used to be called “factory fodder”.

That is why we have a splintered workforce, roughly divided into two. The ones with a degree or a trade, and a job at a good salary, comfortable working conditions, and that smug sense of achievement which comes from stepping up into your expected role, with all the trimmings, and not much in the way of struggle.

The others are those who don’t get sick pay, or regular work, or comfortable conditions. Often they deliver your uber eats, should they arrive in one piece. These are the people who inhabit your fever dreams, with rotating bodies in beds in slum like conditions, usually non-white, but jolly good workers picking up the jobs no-one else wants.

If you want to experience these divisions first hand, go to the races in Melbourne, during Cup week. There you will see the greedy and the entitled, feasting on fine wine and throwing away more good food than ten food-banks collect in a week.

See them lurch to the bookies to place bets which could cover the rent for an entire family for a week. See them vomit, or fighting among themselves, at the end of the day; but it is never from shame, but over-indulgence.

I was going to talk about the poisonous leadership of this country, and the corrosive effect it has had on generations of Australians, but these Australians know better than to live these empty lives of consumerism.

Possibly their grandparents bored them with tales of how we used to take care of each other. Yes there were social divisions, but not like these divisions.

Now we accept the difficulties in finding enough food, decent housing, health care as the unavoidable consequence of living in a mercantile world. We conveniently blame ‘the economy’, the wheels within wheels which dictate social inequality. Which is nice, but untrue.

We choose the society we live in. We allow governments to ignore sections of the community, because it doesn’t affect us. But as human civilisation faces possible extinction, might it be time to reflect on our own greed and profligate ways?

Taking care of the others is called for, and should civilisation crash and burn, I would like to know I at least thought about, and acted on behalf of, those who need our help. As the waves crash over Brighton Yacht Club …

Why is our government so hopeless?


Australia is a signatory to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) The Commonwealth of Australia was one of the 193 countries that adopted the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.

Implementation of the agenda is led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) with different federal government agencies responsible for each of the goals. Australia is not on-track to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The 17 SDGs are:

(1) No Poverty, Anne Ruston. Clearly failing. In Australia, there are more than 3 million people or 13.2% of the population living below the poverty line. That includes 739,000 children or more than 1 in 6.

(2) Zero Hunger, Anne Ruston. Clearly failing. Refer (1) above

(3) Good Health and Well-being, Greg Hunt Anne Ruston? The country is in the grip of a wave of Covid deaths and infections, lingering but unaddressed “long-Covid”, no restrictions, all bull-dozed through by Scott Morrison.

(4) Quality Education, Alan Tudge Stuart Robert or Alan Tudge? If quality means private & expensive, terrific. Government funding for independent schools increased by $3338 a student over a decade, compared with $703 more per student for public schools. Trying to dumb us all down.

(5) Gender Equality, Marise Payne. Really? We have a minister. One woman a week murdered in Australia, by an intimate partner. And yet an alleged rapist and an alleged physical abuser of a female partner seemingly deemed suitable to continue their government employ. We’re even paying damages to one of the victims, but he’s still employable?

(6) Clean Water and Sanitation, Keith Pitt. When Keith puts his mind to it, it will be ok. Between him & Barnaby Joyce, buying groundwater and favouring mining interests, building dams; not much hope for dry Australia.

(7) Affordable and Clean Energy, Angus Taylor. What to say. He hates wind, he went to Glasgow COP26 to spruik fossil fuels. This minister is seemingly working against our interests.

(8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, Stuart Robert. Casualisation of the workforce, and pressure on employers to keep wages low has led to a surge in corporate profitability, and stagnant wages. Removal of penalty rates was a shocker.

(9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Barnaby Joyce or Angus Taylor? With these two sharing the responsibility, about the best they can think of is keeping coal power stations emitting, & building dams. Handy – NOT.

(10) Reduced Inequality, No-one appointed. They all take perverted pleasure in keeping the poor poor. The Labor Party has just trashed the hopes of millions of poor Australians, by promising to not review the JpbSeeker rate. So a pox on both your houses.

(11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, Paul Fletcher. Depends on where you live. If in Melbourne, bad luck. A marginal seat, Paul is your man. You might get a car-park, whether you need it or not.

(12) Responsible Consumption and Production, No-one appointed. Two examples – 1. VIP jet loaned to Matthias Cormann to fly around the world, seeking a job when he already had one. 2. $5.5 billion wasted on cancelling our submarine contract. Replacement – a drawing of a future nuclear sub.

(13) Climate Action, Angus Taylor. Refer to (7)

(14) Life Below Water, Sussan Ley. The Great Barrier Reef is now considered to be over half dead. She and her ministerial colleagues, but mainly Angus Taylor, have colluded to ignore climate change. A massive fail, on every front.

(15) Life On Land, Sussan Ley. Sussan Ley has overseen the approval of massive land clearing, for coal mining operations, leading to the koala being moved from “vulnerable to endangered.” One of many unique species under severe threat. She also went to court to appeal an earlier ruling that she owed a duty of care to future generations. Terrific win Sussan.

(16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, Christian Porter Michaelia Cash. Still allowing ‘secret’ trials of whistleblowers, who alerted us that Australia had broken the law in East Timor. Still locking up kids as young as ten. Still stacking the AAT with political hacks.

(17) Partnerships for the Goals. Well, they are colluding to deliver the worst results to the Aussie pleb, while feathering their own nests. DFAT and PM&C are the partners.

Just to be perfectly clear, Australia is failing on ALL 17 goals. Australia is wealthy, and Australia has a government which employs Ministers of the Crown to achieve these goals. I know that because one (not sure which PM) of the recent prime ministers signed us up.

The first of these goals is “No poverty”. Source – Wikipedia

However, Australia has the 16th highest poverty rate out of the 34 wealthiest countries in the OECD – higher than the average for the OECD; higher than the UK, Germany and New Zealand.

People living in poverty in Australia often miss out on essentials such as food or a roof over their heads. Children living in poverty often miss out on items such as school excursions.

If “no poverty” is the goal, why are we prepared to look the other way? We know that poverty exists, we know how to fix it, and yet we tolerate keeping people down. Why?