Wednesday, 2 January 2013
This will not be a particularly articulate post- my feelibgs around this issue are too tied up with my emotions to be able to produce an article with any semblance of objectivity.
My rage stems from a recent press conference held by the current Australian Families Minister, Jenny Macklin. The herald article can be found here:
Now, I want to say straight up that I don't blame her as an individual for stating that she could live on it; of course she has to say that. I am just so sick and tired of Aussie politicians being so out of touch with the broader society and the daily struggles we go through.
My Newstart Allowance from Centrelink, plus my Rent Assistance payment, comes to about $520 per fortnight (roughly $37 per day). I want to point out that with my health care card, I also get concessions on medications, and cheaper train tickets, which is seldom explained to people not acquainted with the system. Nevertheless, you do skip meals on occasion because you need to save money for your mum's Birthday pressie or to buy a new bra because your others all look like some wash rag that's been around since the 1870's. The dismally low payment also leads quickly to social isolation, as you skip social events that you cannot possibly afford. But almost daily I thank my lucky stars that I'm SINGLE; that I don't have a child to support on this hideous excuse for Welfare; and that I live near public transport and don't have to run a car. Anyone who has to do this on Newstart is, to put it mildly, completely screwed.
What makes me want to cry (and scream, and throw molotov cocktails at politicians' houses) is the fact that, whenever MPs speak about Welfare, Centrelink issues, "getting parents back into the workforce" etc etc, has it never occurred to them that people on Welfare MIGHT ALREADY BE TRYING TO FIND WORK? Not every Australian is a "Dole Bludger" (what a hateful concept); most, I repeat MOST people want to be meaningfully employed.
I hear the Minister for Employment Participation (What a Fucking title!), Good Old Kate Ellis in my ear piping up that you need to be willing to accept any employment, broaden your search and you'll find it. Well, the next Minister that pipes up about how low the unemployment rate is; or how possible it is to live on Newstart; or how we need to be tougher on dole bludgers, is going to get a long letter from me COMPLETE with my spreadsheet detailing the 57 jobs I've applied for in the last 6 months, varying from Government positions to Admin to Customer Service to Retail to Volunteer positions. And an offer to swap places; as I could obviously do their job better than them.