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White Supremacist says Ms. Hanson is misunderstood

Patrick Dodson

The Reclaim Australia Movement is conducting a rally in my home town of Rockhampton and Pauline Hanson will be the guest speaker at the event.

In our local newspaper (The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin) and local groups on Facebook, there has been commentary regarding this event. Reclaim Australia purport that it is not a racist event, but inclusive of everyone.

Bro Michael Ireland of the Church of Creativity (founded by white supremacist leader Ben Klassen) has now established a local chapter in the Rockhampton community.   The Church of Creativity is a white supremacist movement, which has a doctrine built on the notion of “nature.” That is God created white people and white people essentially need to take charge of the earth or else it will spiral towards a path of destruction.  (No links in my blog to this rubbish – sorry).

To put into perspective where this white supremacist church has established itself; I will detail the population demographics of Rockhampton.

Rockhampton is a town in Central Queensland, and sits on the Tropic of Capricorn. The traditional owners of the land in Rockhampton are the Darumbal People. The Aboriginal Township of Woorabinda is 170 km west of Rockhampton. There are 6.5% of people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in Rockhampton, which is higher than the state average of 5%. In addition, 12.5% of Australia’s South Sea Islander people live in Rockhampton and although the dominant population ancestry groups are Australian, English and Irish; Rockhampton has a growing trend of Indian, Filipino, South African and Vietnamese people (Profile.Id, 2013 & Dept of Communities, 2014).

Bro. Michael Ireland had this letter published today (15/07/2015) in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin in defense of Pauline Hanson.  I have published my response below, which has been submitted for consideration as a Letter to the Editor.

bro michael ireland

My Response

Perhaps Bro Michael Ireland (LTE 15/07/2015) should rename himself “the wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  It is very misleading to the public when an individual uses the title of “Bro”, indicating he is using the title to speak on behalf of a religious faith.

Bro Michael Ireland does indeed belong to a Church. The Church of Creativity, Rockhampton.  Some of his opinion pieces have appeared on the Church of Creativity Website.  He starts opinion pieces with, “Racial greetings to my fellow White brothers and sisters.” He urges people to obtain a copy of the true bible for the white race – The White Man’s Bible.  In other opinion pieces, he refers to Christian People as “Christ-Insanes.”  This certainly speaks to the hypocrisy of the use of the title ‘Bro’, which is normally understood within society as relating to a Christian faith.

Perhaps when Bro Michael says that Pauline Hanson is misunderstood; he does not recognise that Ms. Hanson’s version of equality is in fact inequality.  When he calls into question homeless shelters for Indigenous homeless youth, and blames the Government’s investment in Indigenous programs as ‘guilt over colonization’; he does not stop to consider that there are considerably more barriers to achieving equality for Indigenous people than there are for those of non-Indigenous backgrounds.  He does not recognise that when it comes to working towards equality, not everyone starts from the same starting point.

I am not an Indigenous woman, but I am a local woman and I feel great pride when Darumbal Elders such as Wade Mann give the Welcome to Country at events. It fills me with an overwhelming feeling of pride for the area I live in; a feeling of awe at the beauty of the land and animals described and an intrigue and excitement of stories I was never taught at school and I look to Uncle Wade with respect as an Elder and a leader in our community.

When Bro. Ireland’s doctrine states, “We believe that without the white race any worthwhile culture and civilization are impossible” He does not recognise how other cultures can enrich us and teach us and how we can learn respect for customs and traditions.  Multiculturalism helps us to stop being insular and selfish and gives us the gift of inclusiveness.

When people promote Ms. Hanson today, they do so on the platform of creating a ‘non-Muslim’ Australia.   They seem to forget that Ms. Hanson has ridden on the back of negativity and fear mongering of Asians and Aboriginal people. Ms. Hanson’s 1996 Maiden speech to Parliament warned Australians of the damage that Aboriginal people and Asians do to our society.  Now that the fear and hatred has turned to Muslims, she is milking that cow until it is dry.  It would be a safe bet that if people started to be scared of the Irish, Ms. Hanson would jump on that bandwagon to serve her own pockets.  Ms. Hanson is the Jimmy Swaggart of the Nationalist set.

The growth of the Patriots and White Supremacist movements can be summed up in the words of Aboriginal Elder and former Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Patrick Dodson

“In a climate of uncertainty and fear, without strong and visionary leadership, people panic.”

Let’s talk about privilege and single parents

singleThe Social Discourse and Welfare

Whilst doing my research for my most recent blog post,  I analysed a range of opinions throughout social media on the topic of contraception and welfare. Naturally, these threads across various pages gathered the opinions of those not on welfare and those who are. Comments on social media give one an insight into the thoughts of a wide and varied demographic.  Often thoughts on social media are contained to a particular thread on a particular topic; so it is always interesting to view the differences of opinion from many on that particular subject.  This is particularly evident when it is a newspaper forum, or another general page which attracts a diverse range of people.  People will group together on opinion and often there are long debates from those for or against a particular opinion. I love reading the opinions of people on social media, as narrative or discourse, gives us a glimpse of the social psyche. 

Social discourse is a key element to social change.  Many of the comments from people, as per my last blog post, painted those on welfare in a very negative light.  In fact, the ones highlighted were of the very strong view that those on welfare ‘should not breed.” The Liberal National Coalition (LNP) Government has a very strong discourse on punitive measures aimed to punish people on welfare and sets this standard, through their unfair cuts to welfare and treatment of jobseekers.

Newspapers and media also seem to slant their stories to the negative. There were many comments highlighting that Sunrise had posted the ‘welfare and contraception’ story three different times on their Facebook page. In my local regional newspaper today, there is an prominent article with the headline “Hard-working Australian culture fading away” which has a 20 year old mechanic front and centre telling people to ‘not cry poor and go out a get a job” and “I don’t believe for a second there’s no work out there”. 

This is in spite of the unemployment rate being 6.3% nationally, youth unemployment sitting nationally at 14% nationally and being as high as 29.3% in outback South Australia, 26.7% in south east Tasmania and 21.3% in Cairns.   This is also in spite of skills shortages in 2014 identified in specialized and professional fields as external auditor, surveyor, sonographer, phsysiotherapist, midwife, software engineer and construction estimator.  The jobs listed as skills shortages are not jobs that would be likely to match young people seeking employment, or unskilled jobseekers. This means that contrary to the social discourse occurring at present, job search is a highly competitive environment and those with little to no skills or experience, or who face any barriers to employment (including sole parenting), will find securing employment very difficult.

This does not even take into account age discrimination or Indigenous unemployment, which sits at 17.2% nationally and the Government’s changes to programs that will greatly affect this group. These changes show blatant changes which target people through race, which are discriminatory as compared to other parts of Australia. 

What about Sole Parents?

The blog post I researched most recently discussed the argument that ‘People on welfare should be forced to take contraception.’  Single mothers were certainly a group raised for discussion. In particular, young mothers featured prominently, as did women from certain suburbs in Australia and another prominent single mother group attacked negatively were those ‘assumed to be refugees’ or from an ethnic minority background or non-white people.

Single Parents have only had to seek employment as part of Mutual Obligation since the 2005 – 2006 Howard Budget. This has continued to be evolved by successive ALP Governments since 2007 and remains as a focus for the Abbott Government.   There have been calls from ACOSS that the inclusion of single parents in mutual obligation contravenes Human Rights Obligations.  I strongly agree with ACOSS, not only for the economic affects outlines, but especially for point 2, which discusses discrimination against women:

The Bill violates the rights of single parents to non-discrimination under Art 2, paragraph 2
of the ICESCR and Art 11(1)(e) of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Since the majority of recipients are
women, they will suffer indirect gender discrimination should the Bill become law. In
addition, sole parent families, identified for special measures due to their greater
vulnerability, will suffer discrimination through the loss of these measures.

As I delved into people’s conversations on social media whilst researching my last blog post, I noticed something quite prominent and thematic with  young mothers and their arguments.  I was becoming increasingly aware of the amount of young women (single mothers) who felt the need to defend their space in society. These young women felt the need to list every single effort they make to work in paid work, volunteering, job search or furthering their education through study or training.  Often, they would write a long list of work and study they were doing at the same time, as well as caring for their child or children.

What this is saying to me, is that young mothers and single others feel the need to ‘reaffirm’ or establish themselves in the eyes of the privileged (those not a single parent) to be deemed worthy or accepted in society.  My position is difficult here as I can only view the conversation and not seek clarity or construct any dialogue with these young mothers to further develop understanding; but I feel that these young mothers feel that there are societal pressures that say that being a mother 100% of of the time is not enough as set by the standards of society and in the eyes of those who view them as ‘sole parents.’

One theme that was quite prominent was when young mothers did list the whole range work or study activities they were undertaking as well as motherhood, people congratulated them on their efforts and ‘becoming a productive citizen.’  The comments resonated that being a mother was not being a productive citizen. Raising other little good citizens is being a productive citizen in itself.

I for one second do not take away any single parent’s choice to undertake any activities to better their future for employment etc., The key word there being choice. However, I question the need that there may be mothers who feel they cannot be a mother only, due to the strong social narrative that drives this pressure, which is enabled by the Government view of single parents. Something afforded by privilege to those who have this choice in a partnered relationship. I know many may argue that even women in partnered relationships need to go to work; but if a woman strongly wanted to be at home, they have the choice, through that partnership to adapt their lifestyle, so this can be supported on one wage in many cases.  The fact of the matter is single parents do not have this choice even to contemplate, as that second wage is simply not there.

Some of the privileges afforded by those in partnered relationships or single people with no children, who set to condemn single parents are thus:

  • Single parents do not have the option to share the workload.
  • Single parents often have to do more than partnered parents, as all work, child raising and decision making are their sole responsibility
  • Single parents bear the brunt of sole financial responsibility.  If they get sick, there is no second wage to fall back on.
  • There are forced expectations by the Government of mutual obligation on single mothers or fathers that is not enforced onto partnered mothers or fathers.
  • There is a great social stigma still towards, particularly single mothers being a purposeful burden on the system
  • Economic burdens, not affording take away, making all food, not affording childcare, or adequate medical care, including dental as compared to middle to upper classes
  • There is a great social stigma about child spacing for single parents “they just pop another one out when the youngest turns six” Child spacing is a privilege afforded to partnered parents.
  • Single parents have more likely high instances of low self-efficacy and low self-esteem than partnered parents
  • Illness is a privilege afforded to those in partnered relationships. A single parent who falls ill still has to maintain all responsibilities
  • There are many labor market constraints for single parents, including transport, available education, flexible work hours. In some cases partnered parents may face these barriers, but they have another partner to work with to reduce these barriers.
  • Often stigma is also with the ex-wife/ex-partner that if the father is raising them, there is something wrong with the mother, but that is rarely questioned about the father
  • Fathers are often perceived as heroes and pitied for abandonment, women are scorned, slut shamed etc.,
  • In most cases the onus of blame is placed on the woman in a relationship breakdown.
  • Single mothers experience stigma with employment, housing, applying for benefits, and community assistance afforded to most partnered couples (racial and disability discrimination acknowledged)
  • Balancing custody and career.  Often promotion means more work and more time away from family sole parents, both male and female risk custody if they are not seen to provide enough care an attention to the child/ren through absence to the home.  This is intensified if the other parent has another new partner who can does paid work. There is little research if this is more particularly burdensome for single mothers or single fathers. Career and progression is something afforded to parents in a partnered relationship, without the risk of losing custody of their child/ren.

I will break out of the bullet points to direct attention to one that I am most passionate about.  I will speak to this for mothers only.  I would value input from how single fathers see this in the comments below.

Forced removal of the right to care for children.

Due to the mutual obligations forced upon single mothers by the Government, single parents have no choice but to have another person spend critical and valuable time with their child.  They do not have the option that this may be the person they are in an intimate relationship with as a privilege afforded to partnered mothers who desire to return to work and have a stay at home father. Single Mothers are forced to pay strangers to spend critical and valuable time and input in the rearing of their child.  Not only does this take away from critical and valuable parenting time, but places an extra financial burden on women as it cuts into money earned from employment. 

This also places an additional burden on women fleeing domestic violence relationships and fleeing violent partners. It forces a woman to be engaged in employment (sometimes with no phone contact as enforced by the employer’s rules) and it creates more worry, stress and strain on a woman already experienced heightened anxiety and concern for the safety of herself and her children.

I find this absolutely abhorrent that this choice is taken away from single parents by force, rather than by choice.  It takes away one of the most important and most treasured days of a woman’s life by force.

Single Fathers

Although the majority of single parents are mothers, single fathers make up 12% of single parents in Australia.   Single fathers also face particular burdens based on how society positions gender and parenting, based on the notion that only women are the natural nurturers and men are the breadwinners.

  • Single fathers are the loneliest and socially isolated of all types of household situation.
  • Single fathers are deemed incompetent by others, due to the ingrained belief that women are the natural caregivers and nurturers.
  • As per listed above, it is also unfairly assumed that the father is not the best option for care of the child, but must be by default. Society seeks to lay blame on either the mother primarily, and pities the father, but does not ever assume that this may be an amicable solution or what has been decided as a matter of choice between the former partnered parents.
  • Single fathers have generally lower self esteem and depression issues than men in other households
  • Affect on single fathers with balancing work choice, decision making, key provisions for the family, restrictions in childcare availability and shift work for many labouring / trades jobs

Gay and Lesbian single parents – there is more of a story to be told.

There is also appears to be an absence of research on single parents from a breakdown of a same sex relationship.  Statistics included for single parents are inclusive of gay and lesbian parents as statistics do not specifically also target sexual preference.

There appears to be an abundance of literature on same sex parenting as a dual couple. However, the absence of literature on gay and lesbian single parents, makes for a gap in understanding the full picture of single parents and their lived experiences.

Government Responses

The Howard Government in 2005-2006 budget papers set forth the foundation for including single parents in mutual obligation.   Successive ALP Governments since, have not sought to enable single parents by repealing this legislation, but have sought to tighten this legislation and provide even more restrictions and obstacles for single parents.

The Abbott Government’s response is hinged on ‘family values’ but defines this family as the predominantly white, dual parent family, with more than likely Christian values.   Often classified as “The traditional family.”  This is not representative of all families in Australia.

The Abbott Government has injected 20 million to “strengthen relationships and help improve personal and family well-being—it makes social and economic sense.” Because, you know single parents are a burden on society and a factor for social decline.

The Abbott Government has chosen to fund only Christian Chaplains in schools as a pastoral mechanism. Christian Chaplains would only advocate for traditional heterosexual relationships and traditional forms of family through marriage.

There is a lack of investment from the Abbott Government on Domestic Violence and funding for shelters and other programs for both women and men and an absence of understanding of the need for shelters for men who have experienced domestic violence or intimate partner violence.

There is an agenda of stigmatisation from the Abbott Government for those on welfare, adding to the layers of stigmatisation experienced by single parents, indigenous, the disabled, immigrants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and people in other minority groups.

Where to from here

If this blog post has resonated with others, I would encourage everyone to write to the Government and to both the ALP and the Greens to advocate to have mutual obligation as a forced measure removed from single parents and be implemented as a voluntary measure only, with no penalties.

One of the reasons behind me writing this blog post, was that I get so disheartened from reading harsh and judgemental comments from those in a position of privilege.   The other reason was that I really want people to start assessing their own narrative when it comes to passing judgement of others on welfare.

The Abbott Government through their agenda of stigmatisation has really created a strong narrative to enable and encourage others to stigmatise those on welfare.  If you oppose the Abbott Government, but contribute to this stigma by adding your voice, you are really supporting the Abbott Government by becoming a part of their agenda.  Their agenda for stigma is strong as it paves the way for even more harsh cuts and unfair treatment of the disadvantage as the discourse becomes more widely sociably acceptable.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

Let’s stop those welfare bludgers from breeding or Eugenics 101!

no pregnancyThe topic of conversation across many pages on Facebook, across newspaper forums and even current affairs shows has been a statement from ex-ALP Minister Gary Johns

Former Labor Minister Gary Johns suggests linking the dole to contraception.”

The comments from a wide and diverse range of people regarding this topic has certainly been an eye opener.

Firstly, I need to get something off my chest….. I find it absolutely remarkable, that an overtly sexist comment from an “Ex-ALP Minister” hits the headlines three days after the polls screamed loudly that Tony Abbott is falling out of favour with women.  Now call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I do find that linking an extremely sexist and controversial statement to the ALP three days after polling highlighted that women would rather #putyourironout rather than vote for Abbott again, an attempt at political strategy by the right. #diversion.

John’s originally wrote his article as opinion for The Australian and they labelled John’s as an ‘ex-ALP’ Minister whereas the Australian Newspaper could have labelled him either senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)  (Abbott linked right-wing think tank) or the Associate Commissioner of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission from 2002 – 2004 under the Howard Government.   I find it interesting that the Murdoch press chose to link John’s to the ALP instead, although he hasn’t been a Minister of the ALP and has been critical of the ALP since at least 1996.  The Australian may as well have gone onto social media and asked some random their sexist opinions on welfare and contraception.

Which takes me to my next point. I have taken a selection of comments via Facebook, across various pages and groups.  This is just a small sample and if you could quantify the negative comments supporting this argument, I would estimate it was approximately 70% (in favour) 30% (not in favour) across the board.   The narrative in this country is something that we need to look at a lot more closely.

Some of the themes from those on social media go something like this (hit it)

Only the rich should breed (or why I shouldn’t exist)

Facebook Comment: “Still my point is valid…. There are other ways to prevent people from having children! Sterilisation is a good one! Some people have children completely dependant (sic) on the government… Those people need to be told NO!”

According to this Facebook User (and many like this person) I should not exist.  You see, my father was an invalid pensioner (completely dependent on the Government) and my mother on the wife’s (carer’s) pension.  So going by what this person is saying, because my father had a disability and mum looked after him, she should have been sterilized.  This is the type of person who would vote for a Government to forcibly sterilize a woman because that woman is not ‘their ideal woman who should be breeding.’   But give her a job and she will be Mother of the freaking year!

In fact, with this line of thinking, I should not exist and neither should my two sisters or three brothers.  Why? Because we are not the product of a ‘born to rule’ ideology that salivates at the thought of social cleansing, where only those ‘not in need’ have a space in society? This person and many commenting like this person, obviously dream of a society, where the ‘undesirables’ (aka those on welfare) are left to rot or be eliminated altogether.

What these sort of people don’t understand is when you have kids and you are on welfare, it is usually the mother who goes without to accommodate the needs of the children.  People just make do with what they have. They don’t scream and ask for more to live a wealthy lifestyle.

Bludgers and deadshits (Or how those with privilege seek to label the disadvantaged)

Facebook Comment:  How anyone can disagree with this is beyond me. Bums breeding more bums! And so the cycle will continue.

and this gem

Facebook comment: What about the rights of children not to be born to deadshit parents?

According to this Facebook user all children of welfare recipients should be cast aside as ‘Bums’ before they are even given a chance in society.   In my own lived experience as a child of welfare, every single one of us has gone on to achieve a full and productive life.   I have worked in Management across private, public, community, vocational and higher education sectors. I have gone on to postgraduate education and also have a partially completed PhD which may or may not ever get finished.  My brothers and sisters have all worked in either a professional capacity or in management.   We all have families and children.   My family is not a unique example. Many great leaders have also come from very poor backgrounds.   To deny a child a life, because others seek to cleanse society of children not born to “Women of Calibre” is beyond the sickest ways of thinking.

What people like this do not understand, is that there is more to life than money.  Sure, we lived in commission, didn’t eat fancy meals, but the values that our parents instilled in us, cannot be bought with money.  How one parents is not governed by how much money someone has. In fact, there was more love in my home growing up, than what I had witnessed in some of my much better off friends homes growing up.   Turn to any Youth Agency and you will also see that young people who need assistance come from a wide and diverse background. Not just welfare.

This type of person believes that people born into welfare are Bums or their parents are ‘deadshits’ and have nothing to contribute. Please tell that to Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling, just two successful women with links to welfare.

Culling of Humans (or Eugenics and the sick mind in favour of it)

Facebook Comment: Besides there needs to be a cull of the human race anyway. Weeding out bottom feeders bogans just plain right pieces of crap from society.   This is why we have such a f u ked (sic) up society because of all the bottom feeders who have kids that dont (sic) bring them up with morals and values respect this is why there is alot  (sic) of kids on the dole its (sic) all they know (Just imagine the punctuation is there. You can do it!).

and this gem

Facebook Comment: Agreed. The rats have a screw and produce a rat might be different size whatever u still breed a rat a bottom feeder (Once again, use your magical powers so this makes freaking sense!)

Once again, we have the mentality that thinks Eugenics are a fine thing to implement in society.  Do these people really believe that only a certain ‘type’ of person should be allowed to have children?  Do they really believe that the Government should have the right to stop the bloodline of those that are in need of social supports?

The rat comment is also even more chilling, as the Jews were referred to as rats during the Holocaust, a time where there were those that thought a blond haired blue eyed race was the only race that should exist.

What these people do not realise is, if Eugenics, Social cleansing or the likes were adopted, there will always be someone ‘at the bottom of society’ and that person could very well be you.

Then we move on to the ‘related topics’ that show how people’s mind link other negative societal behaviors to those on welfare.

Those drug-addled welfare recipients (or how to stigmatised those already stigmatised through negative association)

Facebook Comment: Totally agree and don’t forget to drug test as well

This comment is actually from a person who is well known in a certain town and aspires to be a Lord Mayor. You know – making decisions about people and their lives in an entire region/community.  As Keating said, “God help us….God help us.”

This type of (let’s face it) brainless idiot, touts this sort of rubbish, because it gives them a sense of self-importance. The problem is it only feeds the ego and not the brain, as statistics on drug use are completely contrary to what this person is implying.  This type of person seeks to further stigmatise the already stigmatised in society, as it makes them feel so much above everyone else when in reality, they are the lowest of the low.

I won’t go any further into this one, as I have already published two articles on this topic of welfare and drug testing.

Drug Testing and the LNP’s Ongoing Stigmatization of the Poor  and The LNP’s agenda for welfare. A clarification of what drug testing really means

Those heathen young girls who have babies (or how to slut-shame women because you are a judgemental moron)

Facebook comment: Dude it’s what is happening. It’s not only adults popping kids out now a days it’s teenagers. You walk in to centrelink and there’s 16 year olds sitting every where with kids on there hip

It always fascinates me how people specifically target young women who are mothers as the primary burden, almost a parasitic burden on society. It also fascinates me that although we now have Google and no longer need to trawl through the Funk and Wagnells, people just can’t be bothered checking facts before they open their bigoted mouths.

Only 10% of lone mothers are aged 15 – 24 and the peak group for lone mothers is age 35-44 years of age and the major contributor to sole parenting is the break down of marriage. 12% of sole parents are men, and are usually over 35. Doesn’t this indicate to people that if a relationship breaks down for a younger woman, that it is the younger woman who is most likely left to care for the baby? Let’s not target and label bright, young enthusiastic women, because they have the extra responsibility of sole motherhood. They have much to contribute to society.

Having a child out of wedlock is not a crime and the only people who are bastards are the people who think this way.

After reading comments across so many different forums yesterday; it is quite evident that the Australian narrative needs to be scrutinised further and Australians themselves need to be openly challenged in their thinking.  If we did not have the safety net of unemployment benefit, what impact would this have on the economy? It could be assumed that most people would keep spending to a minimum so they could support themselves in the event of job loss.   So many people are so judgemental, yet, never question the tax payer funded benefits of big business, but feel it is just and moral to kick the boot in to the already disadvantaged. The derogatory vilification of people in dire circumstances, simply needs to stop. To quote my most favourite politician Anthony Albenese:

It’s time for a more serious debate on welfare – one that goes beyond dog whistling and demonisation of the poor

One theme very evident through all the comments, is that taxpayers feel they have some type of ‘ownership’ over the lives of those on welfare. Kind of like the Master / Slave mentality. It is quite appalling really, that these people think they can dictate to others how they can live their lives.  Most people who are on welfare at one point in their lives, have contributed to a tax system, which is used to pay for welfare.  For those that never have and never will pay, it is the duty of the Government of this country to ensure that these people are supported and they simply do not deserve the disrespect dished out to them.

(taken from a Facebook user on the Sunrise thread) I will end with this post with his comment:

Facebook Comment: Some of you seem to think that unemployment benefit isn’t a right… well, you are not correct. It’s right there in Hansard.

menzies welfare

(He sounds NOTHING like the Liberals of today – who are these people?)

The LNP’s new talent – How to disable people with a disability.


abbott disabilityKevin Andrews has announced that anyone seeking to access the disability support pension, will now be required to see an independent doctor prescribed by the Government, and recommendations from family doctors will no longer be allowed to assess people for the disability pension.

The LNP has effectively taken away the right of choice for people with a disability.  All Australians expect a fair go, a right to choose. However, this is now no longer the case if you have a disability. Someone will make this choice for you. For those with a disability who do not need an advocate; who can make their own decisions.  For those who need an advocate, this is taking away the right to choose, through denying the choices that the advocate can make on their behalf.  This is a blatantly disabling people with a disability, rather than enabling them.

This also strikes me as so raw and so insensitive not even a week after the passing of Stella Young. Stella Young, if anything, taught us that we should treat all people with disabilities as human beings. Taking away someone’s right to choose does not treat a person as a full human being. Kevin Andrews (as all neo-liberals do) is purely focused on money and not the welfare of the person, nor is he focused on client outcomes for a person seeking the disability pension.  Scott Morrison inheriting this portfolio, will contribute a ‘show no mercy’ approach to this situation.

In plain Australian English: The LNP does not give a stuff about people with a disability and how they should be treated.

One of the most concerning risks is that if the correct outcome for a person with a disability is not achieved, this will result in that person being moved to Newstart.  This person will then receive less money and will further exclude a person with a disability from accessing social inclusion activities, transport and even better choice of housing to name a few.  Once again, the underlying message of the Government for welfare recipients is “they are liars and cheats and we must stop them.”

Through this agenda of stigmatization and segregation of welfare recipients, the LNP Government aims to use this stigma and marginalization, so major cuts to welfare and even full closure of some services will result in little resistance from voters.   Everything about the LNP is underpinned by cuts, cuts and more cuts, as demonstrated even more today with cuts to housing advocacy and homeless programs, programs for the blind, deaf and acquired brain injury also losing critical funding.

Lisa Gunder’s article, Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients, discusses the narrative / agenda set by political leaders since Howard.  The focus on the welfare agenda in the Howard era, when Abbott was Minister for Employment; set to recontextualise ‘have a go’ and ‘the protestant work ethic’ (as part of our national identity) within the welfare discourse.  In an analysis of Australian identity, the ‘Australian way of life’ features strong connections with hard work the middle class and a protestant work ethic.  From Howard to Abbott, they have used this ‘accepted view of our way of life’ strongly within speeches and narratives about welfare; to change how Australians see those who are truly disadvantaged. 

The other most prominent issue that Gunder raises, is that in Howard and Abbott’s speeches, they highlight the success of the ‘in-group’ (non-welfare recipients) and mitigate the achievements of the out-group (welfare recipients).  In simple terms, they purposely avoid highlighting achievements of welfare recipients and focus on the negative.  This sets in place an agenda for stigmatization.

It is through this narrative, that has been used and built on since the Howard years, which sets the tone for stigmatization and paves the way for further cuts and punitive measures for welfare recipients.   If you reflect on the timeline, the progression of this negative narrative has extended from the unemployed, to the single parent, aged pensioners and veterans and now the Government believes its narrative has been accepted sufficiently by the ‘in-group’, that harsh and punitive measures for those on a disability will be accepted by the ‘in-group’ or mainstream Australia. In simple terms, the Abbott Government sees punishing people with a disability as a ‘vote winner.’  As Australians, we should strongly see this as a failure to our national identity.

It is simply not good enough for the ALP and Greens and any other party who opposes these measures and this narrative to simply say ‘it is not OK.’  A narrative has been built since Howard’s arrival at the podium in 1996; that has gradually been listened to and accepted by Australians that “it is fine to punish the ‘out-group (aka welfare recipients).'”   

As ‘punitive measures and harsh treatment’ are now the norm within welfare; the ALP and Greens need to create a very strong narrative and create a new discourse which places welfare recipients at the heart of the “A Fair Go” and speak loudly and strongly of not only achievements, but of compassion and humanity and how and why we should unequivocally provide assistance for those in need’.  

It is essential for the progress of Australia to remain silent on any narrative punishing those on welfare and the disadvantaged and to reject and refuse to create a welfare out-group through stigmatization.  

We must move forward and change the narrative completely to build up the strength of our people, through true mateship, kindness and a fair go.   Only then, will we all have freedom of ability, freedom of choice, true inclusiveness and a greater participation in work and society by all.

Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13

A Reading List for the “Ban the Burqa Bigots.”

I was in the audience at ABC’s Q & A (Monday 06/10/2014) and I listened to the question from Ms. Stevens to Bob Katter about denying /homosexuality and the links to stigma and mental illness.  Everyone cheered. The feeling of everyone’s passion to overcome injustice and to recognise individual rights in that one space was emotionally overwhelming.

Dr. Louise Byrne’s response about overcoming stigma and explaining to others what her job was, which exposes her illness, speaks to the face of real action on reducing stigma.

Every time I see anti-burqa posts on my newsfeed, in letters to the editor, on forum posts, my heart sinks. I believe that narrative shapes society. What we choose to express, publish and share and how we position ourselves in conversation, shapes society.

I find that all such anti-burqa posts and comments advocate stigma.

Ms. Stevens put to Katter, “that your reluctance to address homosexuals as well as their civil rights is quite detrimental to their mental health”.  This question can be used again and again, replacing homosexuals with other marginalized groups and the answer should be that it is unequivocally unacceptable.

Hundreds of women are being vilified, ostracized and attacked violently in Australia, simply for wearing religious/cultural coverings.  Women in particular are being targeted for attacks; women who deserve a space in our society, the same as everyone else. Why are sections of our community intent on condemning, vilifying and advocating violence against such a small minority of women; when there is no evidence that the wearing of any cultural/religious covering has threatened our security or way of life?

Growing up in the very racist 70’s and 80’s and working in community mental health in the 90s, has shown me that stigma has the negative consequences of denial of freedom of expression, mobility, achievement, integration and community contribution.

I have followed the burqa debate for a number of years and the same arguments pop up. On the issue of security, the same concern is not expressed about men in full faced beards and hats or men in suits, beards and sunglasses; but only of women expressing their individual freedom to pay respect to their religion or culture.

Then there are those who post snippets from the Koran as ‘evidence’ and boast ‘they have read the Koran.’

I think people who have a misplaced fear of women who wear any cultural religious covering, should refrain from expressing their bigotry and hatred and step away from studying parts of the Koran and go to the library and read the following books:

The Chrysalids – John Wyndham

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Stigma; notes on the management of spoiled identity – Erving Goffman

Witch Hunts: A graphic history of the Burning Times. Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton and Greg Chapman

Maybe these bigots and advocates of hatred and violence may want to publish their thoughts and interpretation of each book below and if it has affected their thinking on civil rights and freedom in our society.

image sourced from: http://annamariacom.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/ban-burqa-mural-in-newtown.html

The LNP’s agenda for welfare. A clarification of what drug testing really means.

drugs lnp

This is a follow on from my previous blog post Drug Testing and the LNP’s ongoing stigmatization of the poor. After quite a large ongoing debate on Twitter and in comments yesterday, I wanted to clarify some points.

Here is the link to the news story relating to the previous blog post. Now we have mandatory drug testing being flagged for people in receipt of unemployment benefits. For those who haven’t caught up yet.

There were many comments following my last blog post, including quite a debate on Twitter. I am writing to clarify some comments and also the reason I have concerns with this move by the Government.

To answer some of the questions – Have I been drug tested? Who cares? No one’s business. What is my personal experience with drugs? Who cares? No one’s business.  Why are you “Pro-Drugs?” Um… I’m not.

I have found these Questions on twitter and in comments a bit weird. I’ve copped some odd questions in the past 24 hours, from those who support the drug testing of recipients of unemployment benefits.

Amongst other reasons, my passion for writing this story comes from two incidents when I worked in recruitment years ago. As we know many sites do pre-employment drug testing. There were a few times where people failed and they gave heads up prior to the test. When you do work in recruitment, you learn not to judge people as the most unlikely stereotypes have come back with a negative screen. This is what the Government is trying to do. Maintain a discourse and public perception of stereotypes – negative stereotypes.

Two incidents remain with me. One was a young lad who was on injections for a psych disability. He was well managed and was already working and was looking for a better job. He was a suitable applicant and the employer liked him and asked for the pre-employment testing to be done. He said he had trouble before with tests and had a letter from the hospital. He came back positive for three drugs (one was not THC, which is the most common negative screen). I remember one was amphetamines. The employer refused to take him (although he did have a letter) and the biggest one of all was the tester at the lab (the head tester, as I’d asked to go to the top) specified there was no way of knowing if he was on illicit drugs as well as injections and medications for psych illness. So no support from the lab to give to the employer. The employer said, even if he could, it would never get through head office. He was not hired. He left dejected, but understood as he was already used to misconceptions about who he was and had already experienced this before.

The other incident was another person who returned positive for THC (marijuana) . He and his wife were in tears insisting they were good people and had never ever taken any drugs. They were visibly shocked. He said that the night before he had gone to a club and his friends were smoking in the toilets. He said he was not. He said he didn’t even have a drink as he was designated driver (there was a lot of anxiety going on at this time – as I said he was nearly in tears, his wife was in tears). Once again the employer wouldn’t take him. Once again, I approached the tester and once again the head tester and they said passive intake is like a million to one. Highly unlikely. I approached my manager. She told me not to be so naive and had a laugh. I had a gut feeling this man was telling the truth, but my hands were tied. I convinced the employer to allow him to take a follow up test. I think it was the next day or the day after, he come back with a negative screen and got the job. He was there for longer than I was at the recruitment company and feedback was always good. (I also followed up and asked my own doctor about this and my doctor did not agree with the lab tester and said that passive inhalation for a positive screen can occur.)

The reason why I am passionate about this, as I have worked across all types of recruitment, private labour hire, Government Job Search and disability employment. I have worked with all different types of employers and all different types of job seekers, and I have seen inequity and unfairness in recruitment & selection, including drug testing.  As you can see in both examples given, the testers only look at the screen and don’t support any other reasoning for why. It doesn’t measure frequency. THC can show up for up to two weeks to a month for regular user of marijuana.  People will have their income revoked if the same thing happens to them. People will have their income revoked, even if they didn’t purchase said drug, but participated in a ‘recreational’ or ‘experimental’ activity for the first time. They will have a record as a ‘drug addict’

My previous blog post isn’t about drugs. My blog post is about the Government setting down rules that are ideal to them of what is good behaviour and deviant behaviour from their viewpoint.

For those that missed the message of my previous blog post, let me clarify:

      • It is about shaping society to believe that people on welfare are the most prominent group of drug users (deviant behaviour).
      • It is about the Government convincing the public that people on welfare are indeed deviants who waste tax payer dollars.
      • It is about shaping public opinion of ‘deviates’ to further attack the welfare system, payments and social supports. (How well has this worked for the the Government, in opposition and now on Asylum seekers).
      • It is about the Government’s outlook to attack minority groups and disadvantaged groups and not support them.
      • It is about the Government’s focus on punitive measures rather than preventative or support measures.
      • It is about reducing welfare, but implementing a costly measure to target certain groups, to change public perception.
      • It is about the insincere approach to the problem, as it is about cutting benefits and not referral for treatment.
      • It is about the Government knowing that some people will not have the self-efficacy to fight against unfair treatment.
      • It is about implementing a measure that has the potential to be ‘private’ so the LNP will not ‘discuss ‘on-drugs’ matters” They will merely say “it is working”
      • It is about the further stigmatization of people with a disability, as Australian statistics show a high number of illicit drug users have a co-morbidity of mental illness.
      • It is about the Government’s attempt to permeate our country with neo-liberalist ideology. The main aim is to be hands off, to privatise, deregulate, remove Government supports and set an agenda that people are equal and free to form their own relationships and pave their own way. We know in society this is not true for all people. We know in society, there are those that need support and assistance.

For those who say false positives hardly ever happen. This is why my previous blog post, addresses false positives. They may not happen every time, but there is an abundance of research in this area to support that they do happen. My two examples show that false positives affect real people, affecting real lives. In one town, in Australia, over a period of six months. Imagine this occurring on a wider scale.

We can clearly see from this agenda is that there is a risk of innocent people being taken off income, unfairly. We can see that there will be people stigmatized through this testing. We can see that there will be people who do not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process (example 1) and some that do (example 2). We can see that the person who did not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process had a co-morbidity of mental illness.  There will be people without a co-morbidity of a mental illness, who also will not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process. Especially those who have had negative experiences in the past with raising complaints and some who feel it is too complicated or may be fearful it may hurt them in the future.

For those that say that “most people I know on welfare are on drugs” or “They sell drugs outside centrelink.” There are also many who do not take drugs and need benefits to survive. There may be drug dealers outside your centrelink, but I haven’t heard of that in my town. However, I was approached in the laundromat once. Maybe people who need to wash their king sized doona at the laundromat are all drug users….not!

Australian statistics show that of illicit drug users 24% cite unemployed as their labour force status. 76% of drug users take up the other labour force status groups.  More interesting is the stats on socio economic status, which have for the most recent illicit drug users is 15% average across all groups. This clearly states that the highest socio economic status has exactly the same use experience as those in the lowest and middle socio economic groups.  So for those already convinced that nearly all those on welfare are all on drugs. The facts do not support your delusions.

The biggest frustration I have found in the last 24 hours within this debate, was that ‘people are off Tony’, ‘the Liberals are on the nose’ but so many still do not get what this party is about. They still do not ‘get’ the agenda of this Government.

Things I predict we can look forward to, if this gets through:

        • Further reduction in monetary support for those on welfare
        • Further extension of unpaid labour not supported by the protections of minimum wage and workplace health and safety.
        • An extension to other welfare groups, pensions etc., to drug testing
        • A higher forced take up of the basics card or a shift to food stamps
        • An increase in crime
        • An increase in poverty
        • A move towards removing minimum wage (as so many unemployed could be employed if we removed this red tape)
        • A move towards removing fairness clauses in the fair work act
        • A move back to individual agreements and the abolishment of collective bargaining and awards.

and most importantly

      • It is a move towards pockets of society screaming about the scum of the earth drug addled welfare recipients and how Labor can’t control them and how the Liberals have them ‘under control’

Before you think this is just about controlling drug use for people on welfare, or to stop people on welfare wasting tax payer dollars; please consider the above points as part of a whole agenda.

That is it from me, but feel free to add any more. I hope this clarifies that I am not ‘Pro-Drugs’ I am “Anti-Stigmatization” “Anti-Neo-Liberalism” and “Pro-Fairness” and “Pro-Support”.

 

Drug Testing and the LNP’s Ongoing Stigmatization of the Poor

corporate welfare

The message that the Abbott Government is sending Australians and the world, is that Australian people in receipt of welfare are lazy, drug addled parasitic bludgers who have the only aim in life of ripping off the tax payer. The constant use of ‘welfare recipient’ and ‘unemployed’ rather than the use of the positive ‘job seeker’; the punitive measures such as cancelling of benefits as a prime punishment; forced labour not supported by workplace health and safety protections, nor minimum wage all serve to create a negative stereotype of welfare recipients. Now we have mandatory drug testing being flagged for people in receipt of unemployment benefits.

Mandatory drug testing was flagged whilst LNP were in opposition, particularly pushed by the born to rule, privileged class of the Young Liberals.  The group who have the highest likelihood of being able to be supported by their parents as unemployed adults; being afforded the privilege of gaining employment with their parents or their parents friends and being afforded the privilege access to many other social benefits, such as never going hungry and never being homeless.

The underlying argument for drug testing of welfare recipients, is that people on welfare are drug takers and associate with drug addled groups of friends and they should not use tax payers money to do so.  The fact is, people across all levels of society can take drugs, so if the Government was so concerned about the use of tax payers money to purchase illegal substances then the following groups should also be tested.

  • All Government Scholarship Recipients
  • All Politicians, Federal, State and Local Government
  • All public servants, state and federal
  • Farmers who receive subsidies
  • Mining Magnates who receive subsidies
  • CEOs and  Board Directors in receipt of corporate welfare
  • All research groups in receipt of Government funded research grants
  • All CEOs and Board Directors of NGO’s in receipt of Government funding

If the concern is about drugs and not about stigmatising welfare; then testing of these groups can be supported by studies in the United States indicate that rates of drug and alcohol problems in welfare recipients were no greater than the general population, or non-recipients of welfare.

Some of the answers against testing all of these groups, would be the cost to the tax payer. However, so does the drug testing of welfare recipients. In fact, studies show that of States in the USA who have drug tested welfare recipients, only a very small percentage showed positive, as compared to the general population.  This will be a counter productive exercise which will in fact cost the tax payer a lot more than any recouping of welfare dollars.

The only real answer against testing the above groups, is that they do not make the list of groups that the Abbott Government has an agenda to stigmatize.

One of the biggest concerns cited within the literature surrounding random workplace drug testing, is that of a false positive. A false positive is where the drug test shows a positive result, but the recipient of the test is not an active user of illicit drugs.  The other concern within the literature is unfair dismissal, where it is too difficult to determine the length of time a drug has been in a person’s system and there is no measure of impairment and the result would not impact on the safety of the tasks performed.

Another concern, is that there is no way of detecting how it was administered. This includes being in the same vicinity of someone engaged in the smoking of cannabis (passive inhalation) or the biggest concern, pharmaceutical and prescribed medications and the ingestion of some foods.

Please see the appendix for a list of substances that can return a false positive in a drug test:

To put this list quite simply – the following common substances can return a false positive:

  • Poppy Seeds
  • Cocoa Leaf Tea
  • Herbal Medicines
  • Nasal Inhalers (ie as in the ones you use when you have a cold)
  • Cold and Flu tablets
  • Cough medications
  • Prescribed mental health drugs, including anti-depressives and anti-psychotics and ADHD medications
  • Ibuprofen (for example but not limited to: Nurefon)
  • Codeine (for example but not limited to: Panadeine Forte)
  • Pain relievers (for example but not limited to Tramadol)

The above information poses some serious questions:

  1. Will the Government be prepared to drug test all the non-welfare recipient groups listed above?
  2. If the Government is only prepared to drug test welfare recipients only, what is the argument that this is not to purposely stigmatise this group of welfare recipients?
  3. Is the drug testing of welfare recipients a demarcation of deviant and acceptable behaviour in society to shape the public view as negative towards welfare recipients?
  4. What studies has the Government done into False Positives in drug testing?
  5. How can the Government guarantee that income will not be stopped in the case of false positives?
  6. With the ongoing active stigmatisation of welfare recipients by the Abbott Government, what systems will the Government have in place to ensure that welfare recipients will not be unfairly treated and that their objections will be listened to, in the event of a positive result, that the recipient claims is false?
  7. In the case of a false positive, what research has the Government done on the self-efficacy of welfare recipients to use the complaints process?
  8. Knowing that common prescribed drugs and some foods can return a false positive, would Mr. Abbott and his Government also be confident that they will never return a positive drug test?
  9. What impact will this have on regional, rural and remote areas without drug testing clinics?
  10. Will drug testing be bulk billed, will the welfare recipient have to pay full cost, or will it attract the GP Co-payment Tax?
  11. Drug dependency can equate to disability. What are the scenarios for illicit drug dependent welfare recipients, who do not qualify for disability, but are assessed to work more than 15 hours per week and are on Newstart?
  12. Will the Government’s only agenda be to stop welfare payments, or will they be referring positive testers for treatment? If so, what is the cost to the taxpayer?  If the Government isn’t referring for treatment, why not?
  13. What impact will the removal of benefits have on the children of welfare recipients?
  14. For all the LNP politicians advocating initiatives that deny financial assistance to welfare recipients; on a scale of one to ten, (one being the least hypocritical and ten being the most hypocritical) what level of hypocrisy will be felt for those who will be participating in the 2014 Vinnies CEO Sleepout on Thursday 19 June?

This is quite a complex area and I have tried to be as brief as possible to hold the readers attention.
I would urge everyone who is concerned with this, to push this to the wider media and also to politicians to seek answers on this new “Government Initiative of Stigmatising the Poor.”

 
 
Bibliography:
Amundson, K, Zajicek, A, & Hunt, V 2014, ‘Pathologies of the Poor: What do the War on Drugs and Welfare Reform Have in Common?’, Journal Of Sociology & Social Welfare, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 5-28.
Begala, P. 2013. “Drug Testing for Congressmen.” Newsweek Global 161, no. 11: 1.
Berger, PB n.d., ‘Science misapplied: mandatory addiction screening and treatment for welfare recipients in Ontario’, CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 165, no. 4, p. 443-444.
Blank, A, Hellstern, V, Schuster, D, Hartmann, M, Matthée, A, Burhenne, J, Haefeli, W, & Mikus, G 2009, ‘Efavirenz Treatment and False-Positive Results in Benzodiazepine Screening Tests’, Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 48, no. 12, pp. 1787-1789.
Brahm, N, Yeager, L, Fox, M, Farmer, K, & Palmer, T 2010, ‘Commonly prescribed medications and potential false-positive urine drug screens’, American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, vol. 67, No. 16, pp. 1344-1350.
Chathanchirayil, S 2011, ‘False positive urine drug screening for tricyclic antidepressants in patients taking quetiapine’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 45, No. 9.
Fitzsimons, M, Ishizawa, Y, & Baker, K 2013, ‘Drug testing physicians for substances of abuse: case report of a false-positive result’, Journal Of Clinical Anesthesia, vol. 25, no. 8, pp. 669-671.
Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13.
Makkai, T, 2000, Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA): Drug Detection Testing, Australian Institute of Criminology, Research and Public Policy Series No. 25.
Moeller, K, Lee, K, & Kissack, J 2008, ‘Urine drug screening: practical guide for clinicians’, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 66-76.
Pollack, H, Danziger, S, Jayakody, R, & Seefeldt, K 2002, ‘Drug testing welfare recipients—false positives, false negatives, unanticipated opportunities’, Women’s Health Issues, vol. 12, no. 1, pp 23-31.
 

 Appendix:

List of substances that can return a false positive in a drug test

drugs

An open letter to Bruce Young, regarding VLAD Laws and the impact on small business

libsMy blog is often aimed at a voter perspective, but today, I am penning an open letter to to my local member Bruce Young, LNP member for Keppel and indirectly to all LNP members of the Queensland Parliament, who represent the fine people of this state.  I will email my member with the link to this post. Please feel free to link this post to your local LNP member.  I would be very interested in their responses as well.  I also welcome responses or comments from everyone else.  I have written this as an open letter, as I believe there are many people who would also be interested in the issues I have raised and the responses.

Dear Mr. Young,

Firstly, welcome to my Blog.  Today in the Sunshine Coast Daily, I read with interest an article about small business owners who have spoken out about the devastating interruptions to their business.  This is because their boilermaker and truck-driver were in the same pub the day the Yandina 5 were arrested and has also been arrested for his alleged association with a ‘bikie gang’.

Employers condemn law as VLAD arrests hit vital workers (15 Feb 2014)

This has added to the first article that raised my concern about the impact on small business:

Queensland anti-bikie laws threaten work licences of 200 electricians; union says (10 Jan 2014).

There have been so many instances where people have been arrested under these laws; and jailed in solitary confinement, for simply having a beer or catching up with friends or preparing to open a new business for a friend. This is due to ‘alleged association’ They are then put into solitary confinement – an abhorrent punishment, which should be reserved for our most hardened and vicious criminals. I am raising my concerns for small business, as these articles clearly show the impact on business and small business, as well as other news articles that have highlighted the impact on small business tattooists at present, or the impact on outback pubs.

The classic LNP response is “These laws are never designed to go after innocent Queenslanders,” (but this stance is simply not true) Or the generating of fear amongst citizen’s stance “Should somebody with bikie links be in your home, fixing your safety switch?”  (Acting Attorney-General David Crisafulli).

The issue with business and small business is these arrests are not in line with the “personal responsibilities” tag that the LNP place on the people directly impacted by these laws.  Any small business, now has the constant worry over their head of what costs they may soon occur, just in case their worker may have joined a motorcycle club, now or in the past.

Therefore, for small businesses, like the Sunshine Coast Business who have lost a hardworking, dedicated Boilermaker and Truckdriver to these laws, the costs and time for small business are quite concerning.

The Abbott and Newman Governments are always pushing an agenda about costs for business and particularly small business. They always harp on about red tape, green tape etc., and ‘freeing business’ but never offer any practical solutions. Just about what they can do in the future and stuff about pamphlets and real solutions. So far their only ‘solutions’ on the table are marketing strategies to set an agenda for the people on QLD to focus on ‘criminal bikies’ to deter the people of QLD away from the cuts and hardship the Newman Government has caused. The Federal marketing strategy is about blaming the unions for everything from bad perms to their own decisions to not support industry.  I am writing to bring to your attention that these laws now add cost and pressures to small business.

To replace a boilermaker with a MR/HR/MC licence in town, in small business, would not be an easy task. Many people with these types of skills and trades are being taken up by the mines, due to the high wages offered.  This would be the same for electricians or other trades.

The replacement costs with a labour hire, or direct recruitment and selection is one immediate area of cost. The delay in finding the appropriate candidate is another cost. Medical checks for some industries are another cost. Induction is yet another cost. Training is also another cost.

Considering the existing worker would have built a rapport with the company’s clients and works in line with the company’s culture; a bad hire to replace a worker, could result in a bad reputation and loss of clients. This would add a lot of pressure to a small business. In regional or rural QLD with some jobs, they may need to source a worker from interstate. That would mean more additional costs and pressure to businesses.

Or you have the scenario where your die hard LNP voting followers boycott businesses that hire ‘alleged bikie criminals” as your Government is stigmatising innocent hardworking people.

“I know one company who has just lost a lot of business from me now I have read this” (Quote from commenter ‘FactualWriter in Birtinya SCD 14/02/2014)

Many small businesses simply do not have the cash flow to un-necessarily backfill employees due to a VLAD laws that find people guilty before proven innocent. In the case of the Sunshine Coast Business, this business is paying the arrested person’s wages, so his family can still pay the mortgage and other bills. I hope the people of that community rally and support this businesses. They do not need to do this. They are simply good people and good employers who value their staff.

Through this open letter, I ask you Bruce Young (and other LNP MPs if they so desire) to please respond in the section below what strategies the LNP has for small businesses suffering hardship due to these laws?  Could you please answer:

  1. Is there is funding available for business and small business to cover the costs incurred to find a suitable replacement worker, if they lose a worker, due to VLAD laws?
  2. Is any funding or financial support for the spouses, children and families impacted due to loss of income through these laws, and support for counselling services, due to the emotional toll it is having on families?  This is a different scenario to their husband or wife losing their job. They cannot source more employment if they are in solitary confinement due to VLAD laws.

I thank you in advance for your response.

Yours faithfully

Trish Corry.

* Almost on year later and I have never received a response from Bruce Young, LNP member for Keppel

I am humanity – the change starts with me. Does it start with you? A fight for civil liberties

Please watch and share this video.  This is one of the best leadership speeches I have ever heard in my lifetime. Spoken by Katrina, a wife and mother from the Logan community. Please take everything in Katrina is saying and show support against the VLAD laws (aka ‘the bikie laws’) and the importance of standing up and uniting

“These people do not care about us. We need to care about us”  (Katrina Soakai)

For those who don’t have sound enabled or for those with a disability who need an alternative to video – I’ve typed the full transcript below:

Transcript of speech by Katrina Soakai, 13 Dec 2013

Hi, my name is Katrina. I’m a mother of five. I’m 36 years old, not quite 37, that is next week. But I’m basically a citizen of Australia, I was born at the Mater Brisbane Hospital. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a teacher, I’m a human being and as a human being…I’m imploring… that all of you stand up on the 26th of January, 2014, to stand up for humanity.  So it doesn’t matter if you are black, white, orange, purple, grey. It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, it doesn’t matter if you are Muslim. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Jehovah, or like me you believe in the universe. Our beliefs and our colour have nothing to do with this.

This is for our children, this is for our future. and basically, these laws that have hit QLD; I know according to mainstream media they’re trying to protect us from the bikies. But here is the reality, this law was not designed just for the bikies.  If I decide on a Friday afternoon, to catch up with two or more friends at a hotel, and I don’t ask credentials of my friends past. I don’t ask them if they are…Do they know anyone in a bikie club? Do they know anyone in any club? Does anyone in that club have criminal history of association with a bikie club?  Do you normally ask your friends these questions? Well as of today and the day that law was brought in, we must. For if we don’t. Me, for just associating with people, could land in jail for six months….Six months.

Now you read that law and the age of technology, ignorance is a choice.  I don’t care whether you believe that fluoride is good or bad. I don’t care if you believe in ChemTrails. I just want you to believe in yourselves and know you are here for a very short time.

And they try and cloud us with all these gadgets and gizmos and Justin Biebers and Mylie Cyrus’s, so we don’t care about each other, so we stand divided, that we do not unite. That we do not take our power back. If it is bad for us….oh and it is bad for us. Six families in my world have not had hot water for over a year. They’re not junkies, they don’t put their money in the pubs, they are hard working people, but there is not enough to go around.  But instead of talking to each other we are ashamed, and we hold that in. Therefore we don’t link. Well  I for one stopped doing that over two years ago and I’m linking and my world today is empowering and it’s honest and it’s truthful.

For my animal lovers out there. Thank you for the job you’re doing. Your voice needs to be heard, but this system is strangling you too. These people do not care about us. We must care about us.

Bullying…our children watch it with us. Our children watch it when we walk through the shopping centre. We can’t even smile at each other? I walk through the school, not a smile… and our children are expected to pay that ripple affect on in their school yard?  I do not want to bury another child… before their time. Cos you see people, if there is no hope for us, there is no hope for our children.

26th January, 2014 is time for us to unite and show whoever is running this world and do not be naive and think it is just our government, because it’s not. Like I said before it’s time to unite. Black, white, yellow, orange, shaved head, no hair. I don’t care what your eyes look like. We’ve all got a heart beat. We all must stand up for us. For US.  We are here… this (shows small space with fingers)… this….this long.

I am emotional, because I see the bigger picture. I don’t want to leave my country…but I will.  I don’t want to leave Logan, but I will.  I need everyone to stand up and come in, and I don’t care what you believe in, just stand together.  I am so happy to announce….history in the making people.  Our Indigenous brothers and sisters, who first hand knows of the injustices our world can deliver and our country can deliver, are standing with us, uniting. It is not a colour issue, it is not a land issue, it is a humanity issue.  So I implore you, share this video, share your world, show it to your world. Our children and their children, need us to get off our butts and start caring. Do not let, the system, no matter what, whether it is health, or education, don’t let it hit you in the head, before you start having empathy. Cos that is what I watch. I watch that my world doesn’t care. “Oh well, it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t affect me”. Don’t let the universe bring that to you people, then you may get empathy. Don’t lose your nephew or your niece or God forbid your child to bullying. We must stop bullying each other and that is a fact. Blame the world, blame the system, but we need to look at us and start looking at the person, not the story.  But that is another video, this video is about us uniting.

26th January, 2014. These laws are one of the issues. There are going to be plenty of rallies and protests at all different areas. But 26th January, 2014, we are uniting, we are going to stand together and colour, race, religion has nothing to do with it.

We got one thing in common people, we all have a heart and it beats and we all bleed. We’re not different. Its our world that makes us different. Its the mainstream media that creates fear, that keeps us separated. Like I said before, in this age of intelligence, ignorance is a choice. Facebook was not the only reason, the internet was created.

Our ancestors were not so lucky. There were people that fought for us a long time ago and if they didn’t get up and they didn’t fight, like Malcolm X. Like so many people that fought for black rights, I would not be with my husband today. I would not have the five beautiful children I have today, if they did not get up and fight for that. So yeh…I am a human and I will be there that day. I’m a mother and I will be there that day. I am a member of this community and I will be there that day.

But most of all, I am humanity and the change starts with me. Does it start with you?  Love…always. [end]

Katrina Soakai

Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. You will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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