Tag Archives: Welfare

What can the hold-up be?

Considering that the Morrison Government was arguably the worst in Australian history, (apologies to Tony Abbott & Joe Hockey) it is unbelievable that the Albanese Government, seen by so many as the adults come to the rescue of our fair land, should be as paralysed in the face of deadly peril as it is.

Catastrophic Floods

Look at the country in all its distress, and note the lack of urgency. People are being flooded out of their homes almost weekly, and yet the federal government has left the heavy lifting to Dominic Perrottet, a mere slip of a lad who is so far out of his depth that sometimes I feel the need to rescue him. But it is the good folk of the Northern Rivers who need rescuing.

Many of them are homeless, facing more flooding rains, and we dither. The ugly truth in Australia is that politics gets in the way of basic humanity, every single day of the week.

You can almost hear their creaking brains as they weigh up the political costs of doing something, or hoping the approaching summer will make irrelevant the cold hard facts of homelessness, and the total lack of any sort of housing.

Announce (again) a grant of (our) money to an ice cream factory in Lismore; but where is the logic in a decision to look after future employment before we look after the current safety and welfare of the actual residents?

Lift the Basic Welfare Payment, or look after the children!

How many children are going to bed hungry every day, while we agonise over the Stage 3 tax cuts? Who cares about whether wealthy wage earners get a tax cut, when the least well off in the country are starving, or their children are?

And that is if they are blessed to have a roof over their heads. Imagine, as you sweat on your next mortgage interest rise, trying to make the car comfortable enough to sleep in, for yourself, but more importantly, your children.

Argue for a rise, Amanda Rishworth. These children are Australian, and I don’t want them to be hungry, or cold. She trained as a clinical psychologist, and she should know the damage that extreme poverty and homelessness can do to a child’s self-esteem. Life long shame.

Ask Peter Dutton, who seems to have appointed himself as the country’s pre-eminent protector of women and children, how he feels about the situation. Would he be prepared to give up a tax break, for the kiddies?

He certainly wouldn’t help bring home those unfortunate kids living in Syrian refugee camps; of course they are a real threat to our national security. And they are Muslim. They did not choose to live there, and they are entitled to the same protections as Dutton’s own children.

The Pandemic – oh, it’s over!

But of course we cannot ignore the Labor Party deciding that the Chief Medical Officers, at all levels of government, are surplus to requirements. So let Covid-19 rip, it is only killing our parents and grandparents. Talk about a compassion and empathy shortage; there it is, writ large.

Defence spending? Really?

We better get on board the AUKUS submarine deal, which might deliver submarines we don’t need in thirty years. Not to mention the wonderful fighter jets we have ordered, but haven’t been lucky enough to see yet. Oh, and don’t forget the tanks and armoured personnel carriers. So handy, when you consider we live on an island, a long way away from anywhere else.

Let’s give the rich a leg up. They need cheap education

In February 2022 it was reported that funding for private students rose by $3338 per student vs $703 for public schools, in the years between 2010 and 2020. That pretty well covers that topic.

Go and have a look at MLC in Melbourne, and compare its facilities with Hawthorn Secondary College. Why do we persist with this? If you don’t want your little darlings mixing with those of the great unwashed, then you should pay for them to be educated. Fully.

If you can’t afford it, try the state system. You might even be pleasantly surprised. Give all children an even start. We might even be able to rid ourselves of the entitled twits who clog up the education system.

Why do we continue to encourage inequality in the one area where all children should be given equal opportunity. Let’s go for a level playing field, and divert the funds from the uber-wealthy to the needy. That way we all win.

Labor needs to act, and act now. The promise is that if you change the government, you change the country. I see cosmetic changes, and a more likeable group of leaders. But we need to focus more on function, over form.

Homeless? Bad luck, this Government won’t help

When I was growing up there were almost no homeless people in Australia. If you were homeless then, you were probably an ageing male who drank too much, and you had been caught out between shelters, or in some cases, you chose sleeping rough over the sometimes stifling rules in those shelters. They were often run by ‘Christian’ organisations.

Seven years of this Coalition Government has exacerbated the problem. Greatly. There has always been an economic argument for ending homelessness, but really it would take this Government a collective brain-transplant to recognise the benefits. As we have come to know, they all seem to have been infected by the neoliberal virus, which deadens the mind.

Would ending homelessness be good for us?

Recent reports into homelessness by the McKell Institute concluded that ending homelessness delivers on several fronts. Some of the benefits would be improved health and employment outcomes, and a greater sense of safety, independence and social connectedness. “However, the economic co-benefit of the investment is sizeable.” PwC

In many cases support services are required, the most expensive of which is crisis housing, in hotels, motels, caravan parks etc. The McKell Institute cites modelling by PwC that “moving each person from crisis accommodation will save $11,935 per year, per person, through reduced use of government services including health services, welfare, police and prisons”. So, it is not only beneficial to society, but it saves money.

What causes homelessness?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is an independent statutory agency. This is a part of their latest report on homelessness in Australia:

“On Census night in 2016, more than 116,000 people were estimated to be homeless in Australia-58% were male, 21% were aged 25–34 and 20% identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (ABS 2018). Around 51,000 (44%) were living in severely crowded dwellings. Over 21,000 (18%) were living in supported accommodation for the homeless and 8,200 (7%) were rough sleepers.”

That is a roll-call of the neediest Australians. There are a number of reasons why the numbers are going up: women and children fleeing family violence, young people unemployed and unable to afford rent, debt, disability, the scourge of methamphetamine use. Add the casualties of the Covid-19 recession and those numbers have swelled.

As noted, the Coalition continues to reduce funding for many support services. One wonders if it is a sneaky way to further punish those who are not thriving. Not worthy enough?

How do we fix it? Let’s dream for a moment.

There is a solution. And the Federal Governments is wilfully ignoring it. Build public, low-cost housing, and most of the problem will go away. Public housing provision, by state and federal governments, both Labor and Liberal, has fallen to its lowest level in 40 years. However, the issue of cost has always seemed to be an insurmountable issue.

Things are different now. The Government has signalled that it is ready, and keen to provide substantial stimulus. And there is a perfect destination for all that stimulus. Additional to the social benefits of alleviating homelessness, there is the opportunity to build something, to re-build self-esteem and social cohesion, to undo the decades of neglect. There is an opportunity to re-build Australia as a fair place, where the strong make sure the weak are looked after. You know, the reason we pride ourselves on being Australians.

Imagine employing small suburban construction companies, with all the under-employed builders standing by, the timber and brick manufacturers aglow with anticipation, apprentices saved by the promise of work, how good is a building-led recovery?

Allied to the fact that building is so local, there is no need to employ the mega-builders, or multi-nationals. The local shopping strips will reap the benefit of the tradies buying their lunches. They might even need a new ute, with all the work … Go hard, go local!

How did Morrison use the stimulus?

Of course you would be wrong if you thought Morrison and his Government chose the humane and intelligent solution. They would rather give the stimulus in tax cuts, which may, or may not, be used. Companies might buy another piece of capital equipment, but why should they? They are not sure they will have customers on the other side.

The wealthy, who will also enjoy the benefits of very generous tax cuts, will pocket the cash. Their lives are already fully upholstered, and so their consuming will not achieve anything at all. How many yachts can one boatshed hold?

In a country of such wealth it is an absolute disgrace that children are living in cars and under bridges, while we provide million dollar tax-cuts to billionaires and their ilk. Throw in a billion or two to fossil fuel companies, and you have a recipe for a future disaster. The Coalition will never learn. They talk the Keynesian talk, but they can’t manage the walk.

It also knows that those less well off spend their stimulus the minute they receive it; so by going quickly, to those who need it most, they would have helped those most in need of it – small businesses, and their customers. So cutting benefits to those most in need is not only miserable and cruel – it is dumb economics. When will we all wake up to this crooked Government, and throw them out of office?