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Australian Voters – What are you afraid of?

voting

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid.

I still recall that day in early high school so vividly. I was yelled at, embarrassed to the point of tears and pulled out of class.  I was ordered to sit on the verandah, because my parents could not afford the proper text book and the teacher decided I was not ‘ready to learn’. That experience, really drove home that the battlers could sit alone and cry red-faced in shame and be on the outside looking in, or they could use their voices to speak up.

I knew that public education in the early 1980s was considered free for all students and that I was entitled to an education.  (My Mother had told me time and time again “you don’t need money to be clean, honest, intelligent, kind, well mannered, etc., etc.,)

That day, I furiously marched to the Principal’s office at lunchtime and I made a formal complaint.  I stood up straight, looked him in the eye and asked him loud and clear, if I was allowed to be excluded from class because I could not afford the text book.

For a reason I cannot remember now, (possibly being thirteen and misunderstanding the political framework!) I threatened to report the school to the Governor General and guaranteed that he could stand me in front of class and ask me questions. I argued that it would be revealed that I knew more than most of the students who had text books. I was angry and offended that the school had drawn a line between my intelligence, my willingness to learn and the amount of money my parents had to buy a stupid text book!

After some scornful lecture reminding me that it was somehow a thirteen year old’s responsibility to ensure I had the right books for school and I was ‘ready to learn’, I was given a ‘loan’ of a second hand book.  I had to promise I would protect this book with my dear life until the end of the year and I was curtly reminded that ‘forgetting to return the book would be considered stealing from the school.’   That was also a stark reminder of how a low socio-economic background was an immediate negative judgement of one’s morals.

Two things were important that day: A rule existed to prevent unfairness and I had the courage to speak up. 

Rules and Societal Norms shape who we are

Legal rules and also societal norms shape who we are. They shape our nation. The democratic system of parliament is the system which enables the rules by which we live. If the school had a rule implemented that stated I could be excluded because I did not have the correct book, I could have sat on the verandah for the rest of the year. Not learning and not participating. Some kids would not have complained, as I did.  

An important point is that not everyone has the same levels of self-efficacy to use a complaints system, or to even question if they are a victim of unfairness. The rules should be there to protect people so they do not need to have an inherent self-confidence to right any wrongs.

This is the reason I take politics and voting so seriously.  The Liberals, time and time again implement ‘rules’ or laws, that not only make life hard for the disadvantaged, but also make it hard to complain and achieve fairness.  We see this in Education, in Health, in Welfare and in unemployment programs to name a few.

This is the future under the Liberal Government I see and what we have seen for the past three years and in previous Liberal Governments state and federal.  A system of rules, that makes life harder for battlers. A system of rules that makes it harder for battlers to have a voice.  A system of rules that is the antecedent to unfairness and a divided society.

The Liberals seek to make that verandah I sat on, even wider between the thirteen year old me and inclusion in that classroom.  

The Liberals seek to make rules, that would have the Principal tell the thirteen year old me, ‘that it was my fault, I can do better, get richer parents, shut up, sit down and do as you are told, or we may arrest you.’

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid:

I don’t want to live in a world where a Liberal Government works hard for a greater divide between the rich and the poor. 

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals ensure the working class have no rights and can be replaced by foreign workers in the dead of night.

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals make the disadvantaged choose between seeing a doctor or buying food.

Where the ideology of the Liberals does not see marriage equality as a right for all citizens.

Where the Liberals favouritism of austerity is implemented in times of severe, global economic uncertainty.

Where a narrative which harms and stigmatises people is encouraged and supported and sometimes led by members of the Liberal party.

Where Liberal/Conservative/austerity-laden budgets are designed to give the wealthy money and see the poor grasping for the trickling down of the scraps.

Where the spending decisions of a Liberal Government produces a health system so underfunded that death of Australians is realistic consequence.

I don’t want to live in a country where a Liberal Government makes rules to make life harder for the battler or makes it harder to protest against unfairness.

Another term of The Liberals. That is what makes me very afraid

If you are NOT voting 1 Labor, what are you afraid of?

  • Does ensuring Medicare is in the safe hands of the Labor party  – the party that invented Medicare and the party that has fought against cuts to Medicare by the Liberals for years and years, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that all children have the funding they need for more individual attention to excel in school, make you afraid?
  • Does a party who fights for the rights of the worker, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that our health system is properly funded, so Doctors and Nurses can do their jobs properly, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring transparency, KPIs for processing, independent overseer, child guardian, refugee tribunal and funding UNHCR camps to eradicate the need for boat journeys, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that the party that got us through the GFC unscathed, managing the economy in a transitional environment or global instability, make you afraid?
  • Does a history of delivering major reforms that have progressed this nation forward such as: NDIS, Enterprise Bargaining, Medicare, Superannuation and Gonski, make you afraid?
  • Does the underpinning ideology of a fair go, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that we have a fibre-laden, first rate technology National Broadband System, make you afraid?
  • Does every citizen having the equal right to marry, make you afraid?
  • Does the idea a party can have 100 positive policies, presented and costed before an election, make you afraid?

Vote Labor to put people first on July 2. Don’t be afraid.

 

A dirty deal to drown out our inner voice

democracy pic

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”  Steve Jobs, 2005

 

Voices, opinions and narrative shape a society in a free democracy.  This is a crucial underlying construct of our ‘Australian Culture.’  It is one of the essential freedoms we enjoy as a country. Our voices, my voice, your voice shapes us.

The right to use our voice to protest. The right to use our voice to use social media  and other platforms to speak up loudly for or against issues. The right for journalists to report on sensitive issues and to criticise the Government. The right to nominate as a voice in our parliament and the right to vote for that voice.

Sometimes debate in our country is a lovely, manicured clear pathway and sometimes our debate is a thick forest with bruising scrub, dry arid land, harsh conditions, thorns that cut and grab and where we have to step around snakes with fear and angst.

However, it is our inner voice which allows us to block out the loud opinions of others and look up above that noise to the wisest of owls who will guide us out, beyond the snakes and to the other side to a place of peace and tranquility.

Every single person’s landscape of peace and tranquility is not the same. Some will find that peace in a conservative landscape, an authoritarian landscape, a socialist landscape, a (small l) liberal landscape or a libertarian landscape. For some people, depending on the issue at hand, they might find they have unfolded their deckchair and soaked up the sun in different landscapes over time.  For example, some may sit in the socialist landscape for worker’s rights, but will also sit in the punitive and conservative landscape to advocate for the death penalty.

There are also some people who don’t fight through harsh scrub and snakes, they have no wise owl to guide them to their landscape, they are trapped forever in a 70’s disco doing ‘The Shrug’ to the tune of ‘meh, meh, meh, meh, meh.’ Sometimes they might reach out and take a few steps down the easy manicured path of debate, but you will never get them near the forest.

Sadly, today, there are still many loud voices which drown out the opinions of those in minority groups who are suffering from harm. More and more people look to the wise-owl of their inner voice, to guide them and set themselves down in the landscape of the minorities in solidarity and that is a good thing, because it is so important that these voices are the loud and heard.

I do not support the argument that the only voices we should have in our parliament are the Independent voices and that the parliament would be better without the major parties.

I do not believe a parliament of independents is the panacea to some of the issues we have in parliament today. There are only so many frames of political ideology and to have the necessary legitimate and at times coercive power, blocs would be formed, representing that ideology.

The theories which explain power in relationships and politics are complex. Power can see people struggle over finite resources, some have the ability to use referent power, some can use power to make other’s dependent upon them and some can use coercive power. A party of Independent MPs or Senators is not the nice walk down the manicured path, some believe it to be.

What I strongly advocate for, is that all citizens should have the freedom to vote for a party who has either a solid platform they agree with, or a vote for an independent voice, which may take a myriad of conflicting positions.

My strongest argument is for informed voting. Although I am not a supporter of the Liberal party, I would prefer to see a voter vote conservative/LNP who has a truly informed conservative position they align with. They are informed and fully understand the damage that this party’s ideology and policies will do to certain groups of people, how their authoritarian nature will aim to suppress our voices and that they favour punitive measures above all else. I support that this voter is comfortable with being a bastard and owns it and wears it on their sleeve with pride.

I would rather this than just voting because of the aesthetical appeal of an individual politician, or they find a slogan catchy, without knowing what that party or person is really about. I want to turn the music off at the “Meh, meh, meh” disco and fill the disco full of owls to be followed right out of there. 

I argue strongly for this, because this is critical in shaping who we really are. The voices who end up on the other side of power (whomever that may be), end up battling through the forest and/or sitting in solidarity with groups of minorities.  They know their collective needs to grow stronger and their voices need to be more persuasive and louder. This enables robust debate and shapes our country. This is important as we do not want to just stretch out on a deckchair and catch a few rays in our ideal landscapes, but to build a house on it for life.

In the debate of democratic voting, the majority of people have built their house on the landscape of democracy. The Greens, the Xenophon party and The Liberals want to knock down our democratic houses. They have done a dirty deal to silence the voices of the independents in the Senate.  They are essentially forming a bloc on this issue to use legitimate power to drown out the inner voices who sit in their landscape and in solidarity with the Independents.

The Greens, the Xenophon party and the Liberals want to knock down your house of democracy by relying on the voters who are bopping away to “The Shrug” to the tune of “meh, meh, meh, meh.” This is the key to their success and the key to suppressing the independent voice.
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Bill Shorten’s Labor is sitting in solidarity in the Independent’s landscape of democracy.

As a member of the Labor party, I am glad that this is where my party sits, as it is where I would be sitting regardless.

I will end this article, not with my own conclusion of why this is so wrong, but I will leave you with a must watch video of Anthony Albanese speaking out against the changes to the Senate Voting system. I hope that the voice in this video, encourages you speak up against these voting reforms with your pen on election day.

 

 

Are we Turnbull’s unpaid focus group?

focus groupAfter watching Malcolm Turnbull and his “Government” in action over the past five months, I have come to the conclusion that Turnbull is secretly using the voting public as one enormous unpaid focus group.

It all started way back when Tony Abbott was our Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull was well placed to be the communications Minister. He is a lover of Apple watches and he can rattle off with aplomb lots of social media apps.  He probably has an app on his mirror to tell him if he is the fairest in the land every morning. However, despite all of this, he had a huge dilemma.

As we all know, Turnbull likes to believe he is the man of the hour, the champion of the people, that guy who gets everything right, the man who holds the adulation and love of so many fans. (Wait…Turnbull likes to believe he is Jonathon Thurston?)

Anyway, set your mind back just a little.  Turnbull, as communications minister had to put out an inferior, rubbish, embarrassing FTTN NBN and blow the budget out to the GDP of a small country, all for good reason. The reason is that the Liberals needed an alternative model to Labor’s far superior FTTP NBN. Therefore, Malcolm thought he would just test his rubbish model out on a focus group aka ‘us’, add in a little spin and waffle about how Betacord is far more superior than blue ray; oops I mean how copper is far more superior than fibre; and we would buy it.

When ‘we’ (the focus group) started moaning and groaning about how crap his NBN was, and in the still of the night he stared at the laughter from online tech forums with tears in his eyes, the stress of it all started to show. One morning, he looked in the mirror and his app told him that Jason Clare was by far the fairest in the land. He knew it was all over and he had to do something drastic. He had to distance himself from the NBN.

How can the man of the hour be the same man who has the crap NBN and who is the subject of memes with tin cans and string? No, no, no that simply would not do. At least Abbott had a boat phone!

He had to get out of communications fast into a job that made him look good.  He needed a job that allowed him to be flexible. One with enough scope that if he had to talk about something that made him look dull instead of shiny, he could brush that aside and talk about something else. With that, he eyed Tony Abbott with a glint in his eye. He just had to convince his party colleagues that he was the very model of a modern major Prime Minister.

So he did what any good innovator would do, he chose a tried and true product that the focus group liked but had become tired of and applied a little incremental innovation. All he had to do was to sell it to his party colleagues.

Malcolm had feedback that the focus group didn’t like the way the old Prime Minister model ummed and ah-ed and especially that time that he wasn’t saying anything (but you aren’t saying anything, Tony) or his inappropriate repetition of “But we have stopped the boats”. The focus group especially did not like any Captains picks.

The party colleagues insisted that the inner workings of PM Mark I stay the same and PM Mark II had to have the same values and beliefs as the old model, but it would be ok if Malcolm tinkered with the aesthetics.

So Malcolm hopped on a tram to take some selfies, chucked on an Armani Suit, put 200 million dollars in the bank and shifted some to an offshore account in the Cayman islands and the model was almost complete. To demonstrate the winning element of the new model, he slapped on a happy face, twirled his glasses a few times and with great anticipation he unveiled the clincher…never ending verbosity with an inbuilt thesaurus for all the synonyms a Prime Minister could use without sounding repetitive once.  It was a done deal.  With the help of a knife and a Bishop, the old model was sent to the backbenches and Turnbull was now the new Prime Minister Mark II.

So Malcolm turned to the Focus Group once again for them to evaluate Prime Minister Mark II. As confirmed by @Ghostwhovotes every week, the polls were in and the focus group gave the thumbs up. The media were so happy they were reminiscent of Magenta grabbing Riff Raff’s hand, twirling him around and yelling, “Malcolm is happy. The Liberals are happy, you’re happy, we’re all happy hahaha hahaha.”

After such a positive response from the focus group, Malcolm then became obsessed with using us as a focus group to evaluate so many things in the coming months.

He did this with so much excitement and relief because he has no idea how to make his own decisions. However, he became increasingly frustrated because no matter what he put before us, it was all nope, nope, nope from us. There was a small ‘yay’ for getting rid of knights and dames.  There was also a huge sigh of relief when Speaker mark II turned out to be rational and level headed and did not take helicopter joy rides.

However, secretly copying a diary to bring down the speaker of parliament to topple a Labor Government, it was a nope from the focus group.

A Minister of Parliament drunk groping and kissing a female public servant in China, was a nope from the focus group.

Announcing, “there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian” was a yay from most of us. However, repeated at the same volume and frequency of ‘we have stopped the boats’ resulted in a noise complaint and a subsequent thumbs down from the focus group.

Ministers grabbing the Baygon and spraying it in the PM’s general direction as they backed away and resigned, was a mixed response with many raising an eyebrow of suspicion as to what was going on.

A Minister under the guise of a private citizen signing off on a mining deal with a Chinese mining company and prominent Liberal party donor was a big, big nope from the focus group.

The focus group climbed bridges and towers and screamed nope, nope, nope and staged a protest outside of a hospital when he canvassed whether sending Asylum seeker babies back to detention was okay.

The focus group was split on a report of a political witch hunt, set up to destroy the party of the workers, led by a life-long Liberal party supporter who was allowed to assess his own bias. (The nopes were a lot louder than yays on this one, so this one is reserved for desperate situations only).

As the Prime Minister had no idea about economic reform, he decided to run an increase in the GST by the focus group.  The results from the focus group were so poor and when he noted that they were listening to the Labor party, he has backed away from the GST like Voldemort backing away from Harry. Like he still intends to do the evil deed, he just has to wait to get Harry in a weak position.

Some of the focus group still have their head turned sideways trying to work out if the Unicorn selling is a possibility.  Others in the focus group started designing unicorn memes straight away.

Prime Minister Mark II is now canvassing the focus group for the privatisation of Medicare and their personal medical records being handled by a private contractor, possibly an overseas company. The early data is that this is a huge thumbs down.

As Prime Minister Mark II is too scared to make any decisions of his own and he relies on the feedback from focus groups; here is a list of forthcoming ideas from the Turnbull’s ideas boom that we can expect in the near future.

A list of possible ideas for the PM Mark II’s focus group (aka us)

Should Anchovies on pizza cost extra?

When city Ministers visit country areas, should they wear a cowboy hat, or not wear a cowboy hat?

Is it ever OK for the Minister for women to scream like a banshee about ‘the sisterhood?’

Are socks with Sandals ever Ok and should Barnaby wear them?

How often can one hear the word innovation before they start screaming?

If copper is better than fibre, should blue ray be made obsolete and should we return to Betacord?

If your sick mum cannot get access to healthcare, is that Ok,  if there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian?

If PM Mark II does not make any decisions up to and including the election, is it because there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian?

Should the Government put out a budget before the election?

Should unicorns be sold, or should they be a protected species?

Is it obvious that the treasurer is a dumb-arse who knows jack about economics?

When the camera pans to Prime Minister Mark I sitting on the back bench looking forlorn, have you felt, or slightly felt a left-wing condition called empathy?

What do you think of underdogs? Is it possible for them to win elections?

Is ‘Work Save and Invest’ considered a slogan?

How much longer can the Liberal party get away with blaming Labor?

Do Pyne’s glasses look dorky nerdy or nerdy hot?

If the Prime Minister who owns several houses and is worth 200 million dollars, does not approve of a policy that will let your children and grandchildren buy a house, will you accept that this is OK because it won’t be fair on the rich people?.

With a Double Dissolution election now being suggested widely for July, I am sure the above and many more will be put to us aka the focus group for assessment between now and then, as it has become increasingly obvious Malcolm Turnbull is unable to make any decisions.

At a rate of zero dollars per hour, our pay for this focus group is less than the 47c an hour being paid to workers of the 7-Eleven Turnbull has a stake in.  I think I had better get my union, (or is that unicorn) on to this!

Ten things more reckless than funding Gonski

Gonski turnbullPaul Keating was so right about Malcolm Turnbull, wasn’t he? “A bit like a big red bunger on cracker night. You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz but then nothing, nothing”

After all the glasses-twirling hype and the selfie-induced-train-hopping; nothing is exactly what we are getting from an undemocratically elected, Liberal Party appointed Prime Minister who is quickly learning that he can’t please the people and his party. However, he has clearly chosen who he aims to please. Malcolm Turnbull has clearly chosen to please the conservative right wing of his party and not the people of Australia and certainly not our children!

In his interview on 3AW with Neil Mitchell, Turnbull described Labor’s commitment to fund Gonski as, “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that the fair and equitable education of ALL little Australians is “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that investing in our children, the very people who will shape this country for our future, is ‘Reckless.”

Malcolm Turnbull believes that your child does not deserve a fair go!

Any leader who undermines the very essence of our shared Australian value of – “The Fair Go” is reckless. It is reckless toward us as individuals and it is reckless toward us as a collective. Turnbull’s rejection of Gonski funding is not just reckless, it is irresponsible and regressive.

To play on a phrase Julia Gillard famously used….If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what Reckless looks like, he just needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.

The Abbott-Turnbull Govt has been the most reckless Government of my lifetime. That is why we need to talk about the:

Ten Things More Reckless than Funding Gonski:

1. Not Giving a Gonski

Education changes people’s lives.  The Gonski Reforms are an opportunity for fairness and equality in education.  It is an opportunity to provide equal access to pathways of future success for all of our children. The Gonski reforms will pull some sectors of our society out of generational disadvantage. The Gonski reforms enable our country to be competitive and improving our economy. Giving a Gonski is giving our children, your children, a chance to be competitive in the jobs of the future. Committing to Gonski could mean enabling the pathway for a future Prime Minister. Refusing to commit to Gonski is keeping the door shut to a Prime Minister that could have been.

The Prime Minister of Australia willingly choosing to uphold disadvantage over fairness and equality for all is beyond reckless, it is downright destructive.

2. The Job Seekers can Starve for Six Months Policy.

This little gem drummed up by the ‘let’s stigmatise poor people’ rabble of the Abbott-Turnbull Government, decided that in the era of high unemployment created by decisions by their own party, that young people who could not find a job are not entitled to social security payments. Deciding that young unemployed people should have no money for basics such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene products or medicine is very reckless indeed. (Labor, Greens and some cross-benchers opposed this and a new policy is in progress for jobseekers to starve for one month instead.

3. Trashing Labor’s FTTP NBN 

I’m just going to leave this here because I’d rather watch Jason Clare explain how reckless Turnbull has been with the NBN, rather than write about it.

4. The Trade Union Royal Commission

Wasting millions and millions and millions of dollars on a political witch hunt, presided over by a judge with a history that spans decades of  very close ties to the Liberal Party of Australia, is one of the most reckless acts against the working class this country has ever seen. The reckless attack on workers to bring back a reckless star chamber style ABCC is abhorrent. No Mother or Father ever wants the young man in this video to be his or her child! Shame. Shame. Shame.

5. Attacking the Most Sick and Vulnerable in Our Society

The cuts to health and the continuous push towards a user pays system are reckless to the extreme.  The situation the Abbott-Turnbull Government is pushing for, is where your wealth decides whether you are in pain, undiagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, or possibly even die.  This type of class division of access to health will lead to a broken country.  No human life is less valuable than another life based on the amount of money someone has in the bank.    

6. Being a Fake Friend

Both John Howard in 2005 and Tony Abbott in 2014 said that the Liberal Government was the best friend the workers have ever had. Pretending to be a friend to the worker, is not just reckless, it is deceitful. A Government who makes it easier to employ foreign workers instead of Australian workers is not a best friend to the worker. A Government who does that is made up of a pack of self-righteous, out of touch lazy gits and by taking a generous wage, are the real leaners on society. MP’s are not elected by the people to do backroom deals to push Australians out of work.  How reckless is it to make changes to employment rules that result in Australians being replaced with foreign workers and then laugh about it.  Really? How reckless is that to everything the people in this country value?

7. Attacks on low paid workers and their families

The push from the Abbott- Turnbull Government to make life more difficult for families by cutting family payments and attacking penalty rates is indeed reckless. Some parents rely on weekend shift work to help the family get through the week. Sometimes this is the only work mum or dad can get to work in with their primary duty of caring for children. To attack the penalty rates of some of the poorest people in the country in conjunction with cuts to family payments and abolishing the School Kids Bonus is yet another step closer to the Abbott-Turnbull led class divide trotted out by the Liberals and Nationals time and time again. Class divide is indeed one of the most reckless things a Government can do.

8. The Government’s policy of Secrets and Lies

The approach and treatment of Asylum Seekers under the Abbott-Turnbull regime is abhorrent, shameful, disgusting and damaging.  The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s commitment to the secrecy provisions of their policy is beyond reckless. I do not believe a word exists for how damaging this extreme practice is. The treatment of Asylum Seekers is in the name of all Australians, not just in the Government’s name. Concerned citizens and advocacy groups have the right to investigate the treatment of people seeking asylum in our name. Asylum seekers have the absolute right to advocacy, medical treatment and legal representation. The cloak and dagger approach has only lasted so long. As reported yesterday, Border Force admitted that at least 23 boats have been turned back and this is a regular occurrence. To say the boats have stopped is a bald-faced lie. With the Government casting its invisibility cloak over people seeking asylum, the public have no idea if people are still drowning or the number of deaths at sea. As Harry Potter Fans will appreciate, the Government has the invisibility cloak and with Dutton’s face as the stone and Turnbull’s twirling glasses as the wand, the Government really could be the Masters of Death.

9. Income Management – Basic and Healthy Welfare Cards

The Cashless Welfare card is the symbolic mechanism that brings the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s agenda of stigmatisation of the poor to life. This draconian, punitive measure ensures that those who are unemployed are branded as such at the checkout. The Government harps on about how they understand innovation, but then deny the unemployed the ability to purchase cheap goods off buy and sell sites on Facebook and at the local market. The cashless welfare card denies an unemployed mother the ability to give their school child that $3.00 in an envelope for the school excursion they just remembered about that morning. Income management only serves to degrade the unemployed as incompetent and not able to manage their own meagre budgets. It is a punitive and degrading measure, which takes away the liberty and freedom of those who are on welfare. Income management increases barriers to employment for jobseekers and that is indeed reckless to the individual and to our society as a whole.

10. Not allowing a free vote in Parliament on Marriage Equality

One of the roles of the Prime Minister and Government is to provide leadership of tough issues. This often means doing what is right for minority groups, regardless of popular opinion.  I was deeply perturbed at the very vocal Abbott-esque backflip by Turnbull in question time on Thursday.  The new Malcolm appears not only to be reckless, but now completely unhinged.

Terri Butler: Given it is clear that members of the Prime Minister’s own party will not respect the $160 million plebiscite on marriage equality; will the Prime Minister immediately allow the free vote that he used to argue for on the private member’s bill that is currently before the parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull: I am not sure what it is about the honourable member’s approach to democracy that she so despises the views of the people that sent her here.

Parliament did not conduct a plebiscite to determine if we should or should not have sexual harassment laws introduced. They did not conduct a plebiscite to pass the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, contrary to what the popular belief at the time would have been. The Government of the day saw legal entrenched discrimination and had the guts to redress it.

By standing by a plebiscite, Malcolm Turnbull is valuing the opinion of bigots and homophobes who have recently photoshopped rainbow nooses around a woman’s neck in an anti-marriage equality advertisement. That is not valuing democracy. That is upholding bigotry and allowing bigots to have a voice against those they seek to oppress.  As leaders, the Government has a moral obligation to view this debate from a legal standpoint of discrimination based on the choice of sexual preference and redress this discrimination immediately.

It is reckless for a Government to deny people who love each other the right to marry, based on their sexual preference.

Conclusion

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what reckless really is, here are just ten of the many reckless things the Abbott-Turnbull Government has done in the short space of two years and four months.  Investing in Gonski is not reckless, it is responsible and visionary, two things the current Government lacks.  To fight this Government’s recklessness, remember always to put the Liberal/National or LNP last on your ballot paper and Give a Gonski today.

 

Join the Protest to Re-elect Turnbull

lnp protest2

 

A very wise man once said to me, “There are two types of politicians. Anti-Community and Pro-Community. The Liberals are always Anti-Community. That is why there are always protests against a Coalition Government.

 

 

Turnbull has been ahead in the polls since he obtained the Prime Ministership by default. Anyone who toppled Abbott would be the Nation’s automatic Messiah. He could read the back of a Cornflakes packet and the public would still have been cheering.  How fortunate for Turnbull.

The party did not want Abbott.  The party re-installed a former failed leader, Malcolm Turnbull.  Four Corners painted Turnbull as the good little boy who didn’t make any fuss about Abbott whilst he was the Prime Minister. He just sat back patiently and waited for his crown.  

The fact that Turnbull did not make any fuss about Abbott or vocally opposed Abbott’s policies or rhetoric, clearly shows that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal National Coalition simply were happy with Abbott’s policies. They just wanted a new face to deliver them and that is what we have now.

We saw the rise of March in March or March Australia during the Abbott years. We also saw massive protests against Campbell Newman’s harsh cuts, job losses, privatisation of public assets and the attack on our civil liberties in Queensland as well as his mantra of selling our assets.  People marched and yelled in protest because they were fighting to protect everything that underpins us as Australians – A Fair Go.

Will you join the Protest to support Turnbull?

This leads me to the central question of this piece.  Turnbull and the Coalition are ahead in the polls, but are his policies really worth fighting for?  Your vote for a Turnbull Government is the ultimate endorsement of your fight for Turnbull and his policies. Would you protest for his policies to save his Prime Ministership? 

If the Coalition’s policies are so important to make this country great, why do Liberal members and Liberal supporters and even swinging voters not get out there and protest to make their voices heard?  Why do they not get out there and really fight for them?

I ask you this: “If you are thinking of voting for the Abbott-Turnbull Coalition Government are you so passionate about their return in the election that you would protest to keep them?”

To look beyond voting for a face and to really understand what that face represents, let’s take a look at what 10,000’s of people protesting for the Abbott-Turnbull policies would sound like…..

Cuts to Medicare

“If you get sick you should pay, user pays is a better way”

“It’s my taxes anyway, Make the poor PAY, PAY, PAY!”

“Cuts to Medicare should come quick. If you can’t afford it, don’t get sick!”

GST Increase

“Increase GST on everything!”

“GST up NOW!”

“Make the poor pay much more.  A GST rise is our winning score!”

NBN FTTN

“Fast Broadband is a joke. Keep the copper that gets choked!”

“44th in the world isn’t last. We don’t need Internet that’s fast!”

“Rural living is a pity. If you want internet move to the city!”

Climate Change Denial 

“Climate Science is a joke. Renewables will send us broke!”

“It was hotter last year! Climate Change is a smear!”

“Coal is good for humanity! Up the Climate Anti!”

Education – Cuts to Gonski

“We don’t need children educated. Gonski should be eradicated!”

“More funding for Elite Private Schools! Funding needy schools is for fools!”

“Education is a privilege, not a right. Down with Gonski, Fight, Fight Fight!”

 

It’s an election year. It’s time to get serious.

Turnbull neo liberalism

It is time to look beyond Turnbull’s smile and his nice suits and the fact that he is not Tony Abbott. In my personal view, what Turnbull stands for – Mass privatisation, harsh neo-liberal policies and radical industrial relations reform, is far worse than what Abbott stood for. By voting for a Liberal or National party member, you are joining the protest above. Through your vote for a Turnbull Government, you are endorsing the destruction of the quality of life we enjoy in Australia.

It’s time to vote with our hearts and use our vote to stamp out the greed and austerity that underpins the destruction of a fair go in Australia by the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

 

If you can chant all of the above and stand shoulder to shoulder and march with those who support Turnbull; by all means, vote for your Turnbull candidate.  If not, put the Liberal and National Coalition candidates last on your ballot.  It is where they put you.

 

 

It’s Bushfire Season – Let’s Talk About Disaster Relief Funding

Letter to the Editor of The Morning Bulletin submitted 08/10/2015

Bushfire season

Dear Editor

Thank you for your recent stories about how The Morning Bulletin is there when it matters.  I lived in Koongal at the time of the bushfires and it was a harrowing and terrifying time.  I do believe so many of us take for granted the essential services we rely on and one of these essential services is the news and I am very grateful to have a local newspaper in my town reporting on local issues and thank all the journalists, photographers and staff for their hard work.

As we are now in bushfire season, I would like to bring to your attention a critical gap in essential services in our community.  The essential service I am speaking of brings reassurance and stability to those in a time of crisis. This essential service is disaster relief.

During cyclone Yasi, the people of Townsville qualified for Federal Government disaster assistance under the Labor Party.  This is $1000 per adult and $400 for each child.  During the fires in the Blue Mountains, whilst people’s homes were burning; the Abbott Government changed the criteria, so only those who had suffered significant damage to their homes or had injury or death, as a result were eligible. Hence the confusion about payments with Cyclone Marcia.

“Eligibility for payments, available in disasters such as the Tasmanian fires, changed on October 18, 2013 so residents who did not lose their homes but had to relocate for days at a time would not receive assistance.” (Excerpt NSW bushfire victims denied compensation under new rules, SMH 26/10/2013). To reiterate, the Federal Liberal National Government cut this disaster relief as bushfires tore through the Blue Mountains.

The Liberal National Federal Government removed the last three criteria for disaster relief, which applied under a Federal Labor Government. The criteria the Liberal National Federal Government removed were:

  • You have been unable to access your place of residence for a period of at least 24 hours
  • You have been stranded in your principal place of residence for a period of at least 24 hours
  • Your principal place of residence was without a particular utility service (electricity, gas, water, sewerage services or another essential service) for a continuous period of 48 hours.

The changes to the eligibility criteria have a huge impact on who is eligible for disaster relief funding.

The Turnbull Government says it is a more compassionate and understanding Government.  I strongly believe that our community, which is prone to bushfires and floods, should have the security of decent disaster relief funding and the abolished criteria reinstated immediately, before the next disaster hits.

Bill Shorten’s Address at ALP National Conference on Asylum Seeker Policy – Key points

Below is the video of Bill Shorten’s address at the Labor Conference, regarding Asylum Seeker and immigration policies. Key points from the address are listed below:

Key Points:

  • Immigration has been one of the secrets of Australia’s success.
  • Shorten believes in a new direction for Australia’s immigration policies
  • Accept more refugees and ensure we treat refugees more humanely
  • Shorten guarantees to keep closed the lethal journey between Java and Christmas Island, which claims lives.
  • Australia can be the greater, kinder nation, we want our children to see.
  • A Labor Govt will keep more people safe in a more humane way
    • Safe from persecution by dictatorial regimes
    • Safe from the exploitation of criminal people smugglers who prey upon the vulnerable.
    • Safe from abuse in facilities which even fail to meet the basic standard of decency
    • Safe from losing people they love from having families torn apart from drownings at sea
  • In addressing this, unlike the Liberal National Coalition, we do not play to the politics of fear
  • Labor will never use labels to denigrate desperate people
  • Fleeing persecution is not a crime
  • We will not pander to a noisy tiny minority who will never embrace multi-cultural Australia
  • Shorten acknowledges the history of Asylum seeker policy
  • We must ensure Navy, customs officials and border force people never again pull bodies from waters
  • We must maintain regional settlement agreements Labor introduced. Safest deterrent to people smugglers
  • Under Labor’s policies people smugglers cannot falsely advertise settlement in Australia
  • There are now over 60 million displaced people in the world through no fault of their own and this will only increase
  • Risking lives in unsafe vessels will only increase and desperation will become more intense.
  • We should never tolerate the exploitation of vulnerable people.
  • We cannot allow people smugglers to take advantage of perceived weakness.
  • We need to ensure people smugglers cannot traffic vulnerable people.
  • We need to ensure Australia provides safe haven to a greater share of refugees
  • Displaced people will arrive here more safely.
  • We must have the option of turning boats around provided it is safe to do so.
  • By 2025, a Labor Govt will double Australia’s annual refugee intake to 27,000 people.
  • Labor will dedicate a portion of our program to resettling refugees from our region.
  • Labor will abolish temporary protection visas
  • Labor will reinstate the United Nations Refugee Convention in the Migration Act.
  • Labor will reverse the Abbott Govt’s retrograde efforts to undermine international law
  • Labor will deliver historic 450 million dollars to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees
  • Labor will take up overdue leadership role to work and engage with our neighbours, including Indonesia
  • Labor supports regional processing.
  • Processing offshore does not mean we can offshore or outsource our humanity
  • Vulnerable people should never be subject to degrading violence in Australia’s name.
  • To guarantee safety Labor will implement Independent oversight of every Australian funded facility
  • Labor will ensure refugee claims are processed as quickly as possible.
  • Labor will restore access to the refugee review tribunal
  • Labor will ensure increased transparency for processing times.
  • Labor will fulfil the solemn duty we owe to children.
  • Labor will end the moral shame of children in detention as quickly as possible.
  • Labor will establish an Independent Children’s Advocate
  • Independent Children’s advocate will be separate from Department, Minister & Government, serving only the interests of children.
  • In addition to Whistle Blower safeguards, Labor will legislate to impose mandatory reporting of any child abuse in all facilities.
  • Labor’s plan ensures Australia takes a fair share of refugees
  • Labor’s plan ensures refugees in our care are treated with humanity and dignity
  • Labor’s plan ensures that Australia steps up and fulfils a greater responsibility as a global citizen
  • Shorten says he did not enter politics to shirk hard decisions and hard issues
  • Shorten is determined for our country to be responsible in the world and secure at home
  • Shorten is determined for us to be a welcoming, kind, compassionate and safe destination
  • Shorten is determined Labor will achieve this for Australia.

*Video sourced from Bill Shorten’s Facebook page.

How do you starve a region of jobs? Just vote LNP!

Most Australians want a good quality of life and a good standard of living.  To achieve this, the availability of jobs in any region is essential. The Liberal National Coalition Government always, always claim to be the Party to look up to when it comes to jobs and business.

We see the main stream media support this claim with positive spin after positive spin in favour of the LNP or derogatory headlines and stories about Labor.  I often wonder if there is a statue of Tony Abbott in the foyer of The Australian or a statue of Campbell Newman and Joh Bjelke-Petersen in the foyer of The Courier Mail; where journalists begin their day by bowing to these statues and vowing to serve them through the course of their duties. Then there are those in the voting public who believe what the Liberal National Coalition say about how they understand business and are great for jobs and repeat it without question.

If you are creating a wealth of jobs, jobseekers must be just lazy…right?

When the LNP believe that they indeed are the best party for jobs and business, it then leads to a false dichotomy that those on unemployment must simply be lazy and that they simply don’t try enough.  Obviously the LNP are in charge, so of course there are plenty of jobs to apply for!

Based on this false dichotomy, the LNP’s approach to assisting the unemployed jobs is to starve community programs of funding and punish the hell out of jobseekers by implementing the worst jobseeker support program in Australia’s history “Job Active.”  Commentary on social media welfare sites from program participants, suggests that Job Active agencies are more focused on who they can get to pull out weeds for free under Abbott’s work for the dole program, than any real constructive assistance.

Commentary and anecdotes on social media also point to a system where there is no money to assist jobseekers find real work and assistance for study is not supported (unless it is pointless in-house training).  With the Newman Government’s changes to vocational education over the last three years coupled with the Abbott Government’s punitive Job Active program, Jobseekers living well below the poverty line must pay out of their own pocket up front costs or pay the course off, as there is no HECS or HELP deferral scheme for many vocational education courses. Those on welfare need to weigh up their options between being able to afford food and housing or an education.  As an Australian, I find this absolutely abhorrent and 100% unacceptable and this destroys this our way of life.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has just delivered their first budget by Treasurer Curtis Pitt and have invested 34 Million to begin the repair of our vocational sector and TAFE, to provide real training options for jobseekers.  I hope that this will be extended to ensure affordable access for everyone who has the right to an education, including those on welfare payments.

Sadly, also on social media you read the stories of many jobseekers who are anxious, depressed, frustrated, upset and at times indirectly or directly discussing suicide or ‘not living anymore’ as an option.   This is how they are feeling as jobseekers under the Job Active program.  Some of the comments I have read and the stories collected by the Australian Unemployment Union are absolutely heartbreaking.   

Nothing like a bit of stigma to get those jobseekers moving

To degrade the unemployed even further, in some towns like mine you are given a Basic’s card.  Welfare recipients are given a cashless card and a small amount of cash.  This leaves the jobseeker with very little real money to make purchasing decisions with.  The Basics Card also seeks to stigmatise the jobseeker by giving them their own identifier which allows every shop assistant and member of the public at the checkout know that they are on welfare.  

Couple this with the rhetoric that comes from the agenda of stigmatisation from the Liberal Government such as backbencher Ewen Jones who said: “look there’s your dole, go home, eat Cheezels, get on the Xbox, kiss you goodbye and we will never see you again’?” Add the sensationalisation of welfare recipients on television and so called ‘current affairs shows’; welfare recipients using a basic card, will be seen automatically by some as no good, lazy, bludging welfare thieves. Terminology used by many avid Liberal supporters which places those on welfare in a criminal category. Welfare recipients are not often seen as human beings who desperately want and actively seek work. 

There is absolutely no option for those on welfare to blend in or not stand out as a recipient of welfare. This completely undermines the right to dignity and respect without judgement for so many Australians.  Under the LNP their reasoning is to shame you into finding a job every time you stand at the checkout. The other misunderstanding about the Basic’s card, is that it is available everywhere.   There are only a small number of shops and services which allow purchase with a basics card.  This often forces the jobseeker, living below the poverty line, to spend money at more expensive stores.  In some towns, they have no options at all. This places pressure on their already meagre budget.

So lets see….who should really be punished.  Is it the jobseeker or the Government?  I have completed an analysis of job vacancies in my local area of Central Queensland to find out.

Where have all the jobs gone…Long time passing

The availability of jobs is essential to a productive economy and enables the unemployed to actively apply for employment. Plentiful job vacancies also enable career development for the employed looking for jobs to advance their career.  This opens up lower level jobs for others to apply for. In many cases, highly skilled workers are stuck at the lower end of their professions and not moving on as there are no jobs available to apply for. This puts a constraint on jobseekers seeking entry level jobs. It also puts a constraint on highly skilled jobseekers who also find themselves in the employment queue and now find themselves pulling weeds under work for the dole.

The graph below is job vacancy data for Central Queensland from March, 2012 to January 2015 of the Newman LNP Government and the new Labor Government from Feb 2015 to May 2015. This is where the data availability ceases. There is no data available after May, 2015, but I will be providing follow ups as it comes to hand. (you can click the photo to enlarge). I have completed an analysis on Central Queensland for two reasons.  One is, it is the area I live in and I am very passionate about Central Queensland and the second is to bring some truth to light about how the Newman Govt affected regional areas.  Many believe that due to the Public Service cuts and media around protests, it was mainly Brisbane which had felt the impact. This is not so.

job vacancy growth decline blog

Some Interesting Facts that may get the way of a good LNP Yarn.

Interesting Fact Number 1.

An analysis of job vacancy data for the period of the LNP Newman Government shows a dramatic decline of job vacancies for Central Queensland.  Data available up until May, 2015 shows that in the first four months of the LNP Newman Government, Central Queensland Job vacancies declined by 378 vacancies.  After one year of the Newman Government, there were 1781.7 less job vacancies for Central Queenslanders to apply for. By the end of the Newman Government, there were 2198 less job vacancies advertised in CQ than when the LNP took office.

By comparison, in the first five months of the Palaszczuk Labor Government, Job Vacancies have turned around and job vacancies have increased by 218 jobs for the CQ region in this short time.

Interesting Fact Number 2.

The sharpest decline in job vacancies for any month-to-month period was the period of November to December 2012, which saw a 16% decline in one month for Job Vacancies for CQ jobseekers, under the LNP.

In comparison, the Palaszczuk Labor Government has achieved the highest increase of job vacancies for any month-to-month period for the CQ Region, over the last three years.  For the period from February to March 2015, Job Vacancies in Central Queensland saw a sharp increase of 16%This is the highest job vacancy increase for any month-to-month period, since March 2012.  In a few short months, the Labor Government has achieved what the Newman Government could not achieve in their entire period in office. That is, “to understand business and create jobs”  This is an absolute positive and speaks volumes of the quality of MPs within the Palaszczuk Government.  The graph below shows only job classifications with an increase of 20 job vacancies or more. This is not an exhaustive list.

increase Labor feb march

Interesting Fact Number 3

During the period of the LNP Campbell Newman Government, job vacancies in Central Queensland declined by 56%. To put this in real terms, that is 2198 job vacancies not open for Central Queenslanders to apply for under the LNP.  The graph below demonstrates the top 15 job classifications which experienced a decline in job vacancies over the period of the Newman LNP Government.  The only job classification which experienced an increase in job vacancies under the Newman Government were: Farmers and Farm manager (0.9 increase); Carers and Aides (9.2) Education Professionals (12.2 increase) and Medical Practitioners and Nurses (12.8 increase)  These figures are raw numbers, not percentages.  If we look at the success of the Newman Government for Central Queensland, their achievement is basically an increase of 35 job vacancies across four job classifications, and a decline in all other job vacancies for their entire period in Government.

job vacancy decline newman

 

Interesting Fact Number 4

In the first four months of the Newman Govt, job vacancies in Central Queensland fell by 10%.  In the first four months of the Palaszczuk Govt Jobs vacancies in central QLD increased by 13%

Are Jobseekers as Lazy as the LNP Claim them to be and should they be punished?

The term LNP has been used interchangeably throughout this post, meaning the Liberal National Coalition State and Federal. The LNP use a synthesis of blame and stigma to take the focus off their failings.  The LNP repeat the misguided rhetoric that they are ‘good for jobs’ without question and place blame on everyone else, including the unemployed.  As the data analysis of Job Vacancies for one area in Queensland show, the Abbott Government’s punitive approach is completely uncalled for.  The harsh welfare measures implemented do nothing but feed into the Abbott Government’s agenda of Stigmatisation of those on welfare.  Why? Because there are no better votes for the LNP those those created out of hate, disgust and fear.

My Conclusion?  If you want to starve a region of jobs.  Want to punish the unemployed unnecessarily. – Just vote for a Liberal National Government!

Stay tuned for more analysis drilled down on specific classifications and other nerd-filled data excitement!

Labor’s plans for a highly skilled, smarter future for Australia

Tonight in front of a capacity crowd at Trades Hall in Sydney, Bill Shorten MP laid out Labor’s plans for a highly skilled, smarter future for Australia at the Sydney Jobs Forum. 

 
Transcript

Labor has a plan to create the jobs of the future for all Australians and it was fantastic to be able to present these ideas and our program for the future of jobs in Australia at the Sydney Labor Jobs forum tonight.

Australians are smart! We understand that if we want to create jobs we need to be a smart nation. So Labor will have a program at the next election – an economic program for jobs. That is what good Labor Governments do.

We understand that older Australians – they lose their jobs and face the ruthless discrimination of age. 

We know that our young people in country towns and pockets of our cities face unacceptable levels of unemployment and people with disabilities are treated as second class citizens too often in the labour market.

So a Labor Govt will absolutely have policies that go towards helping these groups get equal opportunities in the market place and work.  Our democracy has the ability for every person to contribute to it.  Every one of us has the chance to challenge the status quo.

Labor believes that no Australian is expendable.  I promise you that Labor will be guided by an economic program for jobs. We believe in unleashing the potential and possibility of Australians.

The mining boom was nothing compared to what a Labor Government can do with the great creative capacity of the Australian people. We need to win the next election because the Australian people deserve better than what they are getting now.

Jobs for now and the future!

Landry’s “Gunna-Do” Rhetoric Harms Capricornia

NOPE NOPE NOPEMichelle Landry must think the more she repeats something people will believe it to be true.  Landry praises herself for whatever work she thinks she is doing in Capricornia for the past 18 months and slams Labor’s record (again TMB 02/07/2015).

Kirsten Livermore spent nine years in opposition. It speaks volumes to how the Howard Govt ignored this area, just as much as the Abbott Govt is.  Landry speaks up against FIFO, Abbott promotes FIFO. Landry apparently speaks up for cyclone damage funding, Abbott shows he doesn’t care, so Landry blames others.  Classic LNP behaviour.

Here are some of Kirsten’s and Labor’s achievements after the removal of the Howard Government (taken as an excerpt from her retirement speech).

RBH – new MR Machine

Contributed 76 million to redevelopment of RBH

Regional Cancer Centre RBH

In partnership with UQ funded the Rural Clinical School

Allied Health clinic at CQU for students in podiatry, oral, health, nutrition, physiotherapy and other disciplines to work alongside QHealth (which we are seeing the benefits of now)

New library and accommodation at Mackay CQU

Total upgrade to library and Engineering building at Rockhampton CQU

Millions towards the merger of CQU and TAFE to be the first dual sector university in QLD (for which LNP have opened and taken the glory for)

Initiative of Medicare local, which closes the gaps left by the withdrawal of funding by the Howard Govt (Which Landry has stood by and has let it leave our area)

Headspace Rockhampton (Which now faces uncertainty due to funding cuts)

A generous sponsor for Beef Expo

Funding support to meatworks and Mackay sugar to upgrade facilities for quality and innovation

$120 Million to upgrade and improve the Bruce Highway (Howard Govt gave only $6 million for Peak Downs Highway between Mackay and the Bowen Basin coal mines)

Lifting of the Highway at the southern end of Rockhampton (and LNP took all the glory for that one too)

This is not an exhaustive list.  Maybe Ms. Landry should have a rethink before she states that Ms. Livermore and Labor did nothing.  The nothing years were under Howard, just as they have been under Abbott and Landry. Sure Landry is in the paper every single day saying “she is gunna do this and gunna do that,” but then she fails to deliver or Abbott doesn’t listen.

What Landry does work hard at and proudly votes for is everything that will damage Capricornian families and services.

Landry votes for cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to pensions and family payments, $100,000 university degrees, cuts to ABC and SBS, punitive and abhorrent jobseeker policies, removing Medicare Locals from our region and moving it to Sunshine Coast and vocally stands in the way of marriage equality, to name just a few.

Bring it on I say.  Not only I will be giving Leisa Neaton my number 1 vote but I will be  speaking up for Leisa everywhere I go and encouraging as many people as I can to do so as well. As Leisa’s new slogan says #CapricorniaCounts and that I believe in.

Also sent for consideration as a letter to the Editor of The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.

Some thoughts on the gender pay gap

wagegap2edited-1351089682Shannon Fentiman,QLD Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs has announced today that she supports ‘positive discrimination’ to close the gender pay gap.  Ms. Fentiman said this is ‘definitely something we should have a conversation about.   This has struck up a fair bit of conversation across social media.  There are a lot of people who are genuinely concerned that this will cause undue discrimination for men; and that there is not really a gender pay gap to consider.  Life does seem pretty fair at times, right?

I have detailed at the end of this blog post some information regarding discrimination against women in the workforce.  The information below was previously sent in a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women, in 2013, but it appears he has made no progress on this matter and to my knowledge has not even attempted to start a conversation about this type of disparity women face.

I know there are a lot of jokes out there on social media about Abbott being the Minister for Women.  It would be great if we can just stop laughing about it now; because it isn’t funny when he is stifling progress.

I have a few concerns with how we approach this issue of gender disparity in pay and the workplace:

The first issue is that it was very evident when I completed this research for the initial blog post; that Indigenous women experience more disparity than non-Indigenous women.  I feel that this needs to have a specific focus from the Government.

The second issue is the high unemployment rate for Youth. Particularly in regional Queensland areas.   For example, there are very limited administration opportunities in regional communities. The public sector, since the cuts from the Newman Government has seen a sharp decline in any recruitment for administration in the public sector in regional communities; particularly entry level administration.  Small business has struggled since the GFC, with some improvements being noted in recent times; but small business needs a hand up to give young people employment opportunities as well.   Not enabling our youth to access employment now, will increase the existing disparity for women; but also increase generational disparity for both genders in years to come.

The third issue I have is how we approach positive discrimination so that it does not enable disadvantage for men.   When we view inequality, we need to view every step of the process and not just the end process of the ‘job interview’ or selection process.  We need to view every step towards securing employment, rather than believing everyone is equal at every point of the process. For some who experience other social marginalization, the disparity inequity widens.   This is where I feel the argument of “the best person for the job” does fall down.

In communities where there is little administration recruitment occurring and a lot of mining or laboring recruitment, it does create disparity for what women can apply for from the outset. Many women are not suited to the types of laboring or trades jobs advertised in regional QLD communities, but some women most certainly are suited.   Where women are the primary care givers, it creates further hindrances to securing employment in a traditional male field.  I acknowledge that there are many traditional male jobs and industries not suited to all men, and I also acknowledge that disparity exists for some men to enter into traditional female fields of employment. I also acknowledge that social disadvantages affect both genders.

Therefore, a holistic approach needs to be used to ensure that ‘equal footing’ at the point of application is achieved. This includes identifying hindrances to women and men in individual communities and tailoring Govt assistance to business, encouraging investment or examining the capital city focus of the Public Sector.   In addition, the community sector lost a lot of funding in regional communities and this also needs to be looked at, to bring funding back to small local organisations, rather than granting of tender funding to larger national organisations, where most of the senior management, human resource management, accounting, administration or clerical work is done in their head office.  Education and training opportunities from high school, vocational and university level also need to be scrutinized as contributors to hindrance.

The fourth issue I have is the differences between metropolitan, regional and rural communities.  The Government needs to focus on individual communities, rather than Queensland as a whole to address the issues individual areas face.  This goes back to my point that there are simply not the same administration and management opportunities for women in regional areas in the Public Sector as there are for women living in a capital city.  No woman who wants to progress in the QLD Public Sector should have to consider moving to Brisbane to do so. This is inequity in itself.

The fifth issue I have is that we need urgent Industrial Relations reform to review the award wages attached to jobs identified as traditional women’s jobs; whilst not impacting adversely on these industries. However, this will be a challenge with a Federal Liberal Government at the helm and the length of time that these wages and industries have been seen as lesser value. This will require not only an Industrial relations change, but a cultural/societal change.  This will not be an easy fix nor a quick fix.

I look forward to suggestions from readers on how we can address this issue in a positive and progressive manner.

******

For those who doubt that women experience discrimination within the workplace a pay; please view the information below:

 

  • Discrimination against women arising from casualisation in the workforce and high numbers working in insecure employment and

  • Discrimination against women through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’, and the general availability of fewer opportunities of penalties and overtime. Please note that in 2011, the gender pay gap was 17.2% for full-time workers and

  • Discrimination against women in the workforce, or who are job seeking who either cannot access or cannot afford childcare

    • More women than men in Australia continue to work in jobs that provide less security and stability
    • Some of the lowest paid industries in Australia such as Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreation Services and Retail trade tend to employ the highest proportion of female employees without paid leave entitlements (61 per cent, 48 per cent and 34 per cent respectively
    • 30 per cent of female employees who are lone parents with dependent children, are casual employees without paid leave entitlements
    • In 2012, the total cash weekly earnings by gender were $1189.00 (Men) $852.00 (Women)  (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics)
  • Discrimination against women in achieving leadership and management roles and

  • Discrimination by default, due to under-representation in management and board positions in Australia

    • In virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership roles.
    • Women account for over half of academic staff, however only 27% of women are Senior Lecturer or above.
    • 64% of law graduates are women, however only 22% of women hold senior positions in law firms. Only 16% of women are on the bench in the Federal Court of Australia.
    • Women chair only two per cent of ASX200 companies (four boards), hold only 8.3% of Board Directorships, hold only four CEO positions and make up only 10.7% of executive management positions
    • In 2008, women held 5.9% of line executive management positions in ASX 200 companies; a decrease from 7.5% in 2006. Line executive management experience is considered essential for progressing to top corporate positions.
    • Women make up a third of members on Australian Government Boards and Committees.
    • Despite comprising more than half of all Commonwealth public servants, women make up only 37% of the Senior Executive Service.  (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)

 

  • Discrimination by default suffered by women who, as primary parental care givers, end up with reduced superannuation earnings in retirement and

  • Discrimination by default suffered by women, will receive less superannuation over time, through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’

    • Only 60% of Indigenous women have superannuation coverage compared to 80% of women in the general population.
    • Many women work more than one casual job across different employers and do not receive super from any individual employer, due to earning less than $450 per month.
    • The mean super balance of men earning under $5400 per year is just almost double the amount for women in the same group. (Source ASFA)
    • Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men.
    • Currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men – $37,000 compared with $110, 000.
    • In Australia, women working full-time today earn 16 per cent less than men.
    • Women also receive less super across the board, due to the gender pay gap of 17.2%  (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • The under-representation of women in parliament, amounting, in the absence of any system to redress the imbalance, to discrimination

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 43/142 countries for women in national parliaments.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women. However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

    • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
    • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
    • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
    • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government.  Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation.  The main reasons are:

    • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
    • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of  female MPs.” 

I would like to end this post to give thanks to the Queensland Labor Party for making history for succeeding in appointing more female Ministers than men in a Queensland Government and the first female, indigenous woman MP and Minister in a QLD Government. 

Abbott’s disaster relief payment cuts are a disaster

cyclone marcia 2The town I live in and surrounding areas have just endured a cyclone. The damage is heartbreaking. The stories from people and the hardship they are enduring are even more heartbreaking.   Through this experience, I no longer believe we live in a lucky country.

The state of the economy and the focus on debt now over-rides the importance of providing people with a hand-up in times of need.

 

During cyclone Yasi three years ago, the people of Townsville qualified for Federal Government disaster assistance under the Labor Party.  This is $1000 per adult and $400 for each child.  During the fires in the Blue Mountains last year; Abbott in all his humanitarian wisdom changed the criteria, so only those who have had suffered significant damage to their homes or had injury or death as a result were eligible. So many in desperate need after this cyclone are not eligible for assistance through the Federal Government.

I know this may sound reasonable to those who support the Liberal’s ideology. Especially the ones who are being harsh and judgemental to those who are disadvantaged across social media. The ones who have the privilege of being able to scoot off to another town to live in air conditioned motel accommodation, afford a generator, had no difficulty paying for takeaway food every night and have no problem restocking their fridge; or who have never really experienced first hand a disaster, but can type their elitist annoyance and judgements via a keyboard; or the number of people who vote against their own interests, for reasons too psychologically complex for me to attempt to understand.

The loss of electricity for a week or more for some people has resulted in so many low income families unable to restore sufficient food to their homes to feed themselves and/or their children. In addition, families have lost important medication that required refrigeration and for some, this means paying for a visit to a doctor for script renewal as well as the cost of medication.  We have had an army based field hospital here as the local public hospital and doctors cannot cope with the amount of infections and food poisoning that is occurring.

The newly elected state MP for Keppel Brittany Lauga, has tackled this head on and is personally advocating for people who are having difficulty meeting the criteria for the state based grant, which will assist people with immediate need for food.  Ms. Lauga is doing this by making a list of urgent assessments and she has progressed these matters to the Premier and relevant Ministers. There have been glitches identified in the system, and subsequent changes and it is now being reported that people who were classified as ineligible on their first attempt have now been paid.  People are still reporting issues, but Ms. Lauga is continuing to take up this fight on behalf of each individual. The community is praising Ms. Lauga’s efforts as outstanding all over local social media and deservedly so.

The LNP member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry has taken the opportunity to play politics during this disaster.  I will use a very often used Liberal Party term for this behaviour – unconscionable.  While the new state MP, Brittany Lauga has been visiting areas and offering first hand personal assistance to so many in need; the LNP member for Capricornia, decided to blame Labor and Ms. Lauga for ineligibility to disaster funding.

landry blaming Labor landscape

Ms. Lauga, Labor State MP, has immediately recognised inequity in the system set by the former Newman LNP Government and has stated her anger on this issue and progressed issues for disaster relief immediately to the Premier, and positive changes have followed. However,  the LNP member for Capricornia has not once publicly announced she is appalled at the strict criteria imposed and the changes made by her Government for assistance.

Landry and the LNP’s position to leave it all up to the State Governments and placing full blame on the State Labor Government, who have only been in for a matter of weeks; is the mindset of a small, hands off approach Liberal Government. However, small, hands off approach Governments are never good for communities. This mindset simply oozes “I don’t want to help, I don’t care, I had to do it myself and everyone is equal anyway.”  A Liberal Government so focused on debt does not care one iota for quality of life.  That is why the costs involved in rebuilding a normal life, such as all the food lost and destroyed, just as one example, simply does not register for them.

Some areas of Rockhampton have a socio economic score of  899.7 (Berserker), 849.3 Rockhampton City & Depot Hill and 797.6 for Mt. Morgan, compared to Brisbane’s 1047.7 rating (SEIFA, 2011).

This punitive approach for the disadvantaged simply has to stop.

Ms. Landry always falls back on the “It’s Labor’s fault” mantra.  So let’s have a look at if it is really Labor’s fault.

On October 18, the day after the bush-fires tore through the Blue Mountains, our Prime Minister (who was posing as a hard working volunteer fire fighter, full of compassion and community unity), changed the eligibility criteria. (I’m sure Mr. Abbott is the best friend that disaster victims have ever had, if we ask him).

NSW bushfire victims denied compensation under new rules (SMH 26/10/2013)

“The day after bushfires tore through the area, the federal government tightened the rules for disaster payments leaving hundreds of residents who were forced to evacuate without any financial help.

Eligibility for payments, available in disasters such as the January Tasmanian fires, were changed on October 18, so residents who did not lose their homes but had to relocate for days at a time would not receive assistance.” (Excerpt)

”Mr Keenan (pictured with Michelle Landry, MP above) has heartlessly removed assistance for people who have been cut off from their homes for more than 24 hours, or been without water or electricity for 48 hours,” Mr Dreyfus said. (SMH 21/10/2013)

Bill Shorten and Senator Doug Cameron just some of the very vocal members of Labor constantly pressuring Abbott to change this criteria. As we can see from Cyclone Marcia, to no avail.

Then when the bush-fires tore through South Australia, Tony Abbott clammed up and refused to comment (The Australian 7 January, 2015)

Then, because blaming Labor simply would not work, Tony Abbott resorted to denying the truth (Bill Shorten, MP November, 13, 2013)

In addition, the Abbott Govt has employed the productivity commission to recommend changes to disaster relief system, which includes a recommendation of a drop of Commonwealth funding to help rebuild from the current 75% to 25%.

Doug Cameron summed it up with, “I think the underlying position here is how do you do more cost-cutting? How can you penny-pinch more against people that are in trouble?” he said.

The Liberal National Government contests that this is not about budget cuts, but about encouraging mitigation. Until mitigation is fully implemented in communities, the cuts and changes do nothing but continue to inflict hardship to those in need who have survived a disaster.  This is yet another punitive ideological view in its current form. “If you don’t do this, we will not help you.” Unfortunately, the Blue Mountains and the Rockhampton Region have not had time to implement mitigation strategies as required by the Abbott Government prior to their disasters. 

Here is a very clear explanation of the changes by the Abbott Government and the timeline:

The Liberal National Federal Government removed the last three criteria which applied under a Federal Labor Government. This should clarify why people who suffered under Cyclone Yasi received the $1000 payment and $400 for each child received the payments. However, many who have suffered through the Bush-fires in the Blue Mountains and Cyclone Marcia in Rockhampton, Yeppoon and surrounds cannot access these payments.

changes disaster funding

Under the old criteria under Labor, which Michelle Landry, Michael Keenan and Tony Abbott and the rest of the LNP do not support and changed; everyone who had no electricity for 48 hours or more and lost all of their food, would have been eligible for $1000 plus $400 for each child post cyclone Marcia.

disaster cuts landscape

My understanding is that the state based criteria was developed by the previous Newman LNP Government and I understand the Labor party have only been in a matter of weeks, but the entire system for the state based disaster relief system also needs an urgent review.

As for the Federal changes, all parties and communities across Australia, need to stand up and fight against these cuts to disaster relief, and have them reversed as passionately as they are fighting against other harsh cuts imposed by the Liberal Government.  No community should ever have to go through this again.  I am, you are, we are Australian.

Should Michelle Landry, Michael Keenan and Tony Abbott hang their heads in shame? Yes, they should. How many people now across fires and cyclones have now suffered under cuts to disaster relief by the Liberal National Government?

I know a lot of people truly believe that it does not matter who you vote for, but as I always say, your vote counts. Always, always, put Liberal and Nationals LAST for a progressive and compassionate Australia.

libs

LNP want to privatise Rockhampton hospital. Still no 24 hour Medical Imaging Service!

Ihearthealthcare

Just because there is an election on, I’d like to remind readers that Campbell Newman and the LNP want to privatise Rockhampton Hospital and there is still no 24 hour medical imaging service.  If you vote for LNP what other critical services will be abolished and privatised?

Think before you vote! Put LNP last!

 

 

If anyone has ever been critically ill, had an accident, bringing a new life to your family or had to take a loved one to a public hospital, you understand the dire need for a solid and responsive public health system.

These times are trying times and quality care and the resources to provide effective and immediate response is crucial.  Outside of the emergency department, there are many departments that link in to provide effective and immediate care.  These include, Pathology, X-Ray and Imaging, Renal Unit, Maternity, Ward Staff and Pharmacy to name a few.   If these departments are not funded and resourced and held to the tight regulations enforced by the public sector, then profits above health will prevail.

We are already seeing attacks on Medicare with co-payments and a fee to use the emergency department. It seems that the Newman Government and Abbott Government is set on destroying our public health system.  It seems that the Liberal and National Coalition and LNP in QLD do not give a damn about the sick, frail, elderly and disabled.  I hope the people reading this do.

The Newman Government has been attacking our Public Hospital system, since their first day in office, as can be seen by the many press releases from the QNU

Many regional towns service wide communities, inclusive or surrounding and rural areas.  Many regional towns only have one public hospital, like Rockhampton Base Hospital.

What will occur when the only public hospital in the region is privatised?  The Newman Government is now on the attack to privatise the Rockhampton Base Hospital.  The intellectual capital and dedicated staff could also be lost, as well as decisions not to invest in the latest technology, as they will be after all, profit driven and not health driven.  Many will argue that there are many fine Private Hospitals; but these come at a price with revenue feeding in and fee paying patients.  The people who rely on a public system, cannot afford to have care curtailed due to a focus on profits, when there is a different revenue stream to a Private Hospital.  If cost didn’t affect operations, the public would have had access to the Private System for years at no charge.

Please put LNP last and have this stopped. Regional areas cannot afford such a move to privatisation. Even if you traditionally vote Liberal or National, if you want to prevent this privatisation, at the next election, please vote for a party that is not LNP, nor one that preferences LNP at the next election and put the LNP last. Please talk to volunteers at the voting booth and do your homework.  Regional areas cannot afford to lose our Public Hospital system. Please…for the sake of the people who need it, even if you don’t.

Please put LNP last on your ballot paper to stop this attack on essential services!  To date there is still no 24 hour medical imaging service at Rockhampton Hospital.

I’ll leave you with this news report about the privatisation of Rockhampton Hospital.  It must be stopped.

*Previously published on Polyfeministix

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

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

Why remaining silent on the fight for other people’s wages could be bad for your health


??????????Many Australians will shy away from talking about, discussing and signing petitions that fight for the rights of wages and benefits for our fellow Australians.

Since the Howard era of Work Choices, and individual agreements, and his war on collectivism, we have seen a dramatic decline in union density and the Abbott Government has done its best to stigmatize and de-legitimize the hard work that Unions do in Australia.

This brings about the problem of people from all walks of life, not wanting to get involved in protests and social awareness campaigns about ‘other people’s wages and benefits.’  Many people also do not want to get involved or sign up to a union, which is simply a collective body of workers joining together to fight for wages and conditions.

Now the right-winged thinkers, Australian Liberals and Libertarians will do their best to shame you and ridicule you for fighting for wages and conditions. They will call you a dirty filthy Marxist, a Communist and a radical socialist.  They will also tell you it is “unAustralian” and it is unions who have ruined the country. However, people who are not in this group and who have fought for the wages and conditions and stood in solidarity, know that it is far more than that.  They know that what we value in Australian working life was fought for by the workers.

What we have now is the Liberals now trying to reap the rewards of their hard earned messages to decimate unions and collective action. In Queensland there is a situation, that is absolutely dire.  Every single business owner and manager in the public sector should be fighting for the best talent.  The best talent is what makes organisations great. In one area this is absolutely critical is in our Health Sector.

The Conservative arms of Government have spent years and years stigmatizing unions and collectivist fights for better wages and conditions, so they could pull stunts like they are now.

Political greedy stunts that might save a few short term dollars, but have very long term health implications for the every day Australian.  For your mum, grandma, granddad, children, babies and loved ones.

The Campbell Newman Queensland Government want to introduce a two tiered wages system, which will see a lower level of wages for entry level health professionals.   What this is aimed to do, is to drive the talent towards the Private Sector, where the QLD Government wants to outsource so many areas of public health.

The Campbell Newman’s next agenda (and no doubt Abbott’s) will be to:

Privatise Health, based on the argument that the Public Sector is unsustainable and cannot attract the right talent.

To maintain and attract the best talent in our public sector system, it is essential that all Australian’s stand up to their state Governments and to the Abbott Governments “pressure to sell public assets” to the States and their agenda on privatisation.

To ensure the best in health care is given to all Australians, do NOT let the QLD Government set this precedent, or your state will be next.

Please sign and share this petition, or we will end up with a poorer, ineffective health system.  Don’t let the Government use the argument that they cannot attract talent to privatise our health system.

Petition: Stop Building A Two Tier Health System

Stand up and be counted! As Gough would say “It’s Time”

The Liberal’s attack on Whitlam and Gillard 38 yrs apart: An attack on progressive ideas & a return to mediocrity

gillard gough

Despite the IPA’s urgency for “Abbott to be more like Whitlam” because Whitlam ‘changed Australia, more than any other Prime Minister ever has,’ the IPA’s agenda for Abbott is very different.

In the 1970’s Gough Whitlam was seen as the first progressive Prime Minister, who stood for the people. He stood for workers, battlers, migrants, everyone. He wanted to shift Australia to a more inclusive and progressive society.  

Gough shifted Australia from a stagnant, mediocre nation, to a nation of ideas, progress and voices.

For so many years, the voices of the worker, the battlers and migrants had been silenced, by the collective group of individuals who could manage just fine on their own; whether that be through the privilege of money, position in society, family heritage or education, is neither here nor there. The crux of the what Gough Whitlam did, was to bring more people into this exclusive collective by opening up opportunities, thought a hand up, a fair go for all.  Gough’s vision was to propel the nation forward, through ensuring that individual Australians could achieve enormous success; even if they were in a previously ‘excluded group’ under the Liberals. He wanted every single Australian, to be the best that they could be. 

Gough Whitlam propelled this country forward, and these changes became the status-quo we all accepted and still do:

  • Access for all to Higher Education
  • Needs based funding for schools
  • The beginning of what we know today as Medicare – Medibank
  • National funding of hospitals and community health centres
  • The creation of the single mother’s pension (now parenting payment-single)
  • The handicapped children’s allowance (now known as carer’s payment).
  • Funding community grassroots social welfare organisations and volunteer organisations (now collectively known as ‘the community sector’) who served a need to assist individuals in their communities.
  • Enacted the Social Housing Act for States, which has housed so many Australians from low income/disadvantaged households
  • Outlawed discrimination against Indigenous people
  • Handed back land to Indigenous people
  • Funded legal services for Indigenous people
  • Enacted Human Rights protection through International Acts
  • Funded urban transport projects
  • and connected homes to sewerage – the beginning of the end of the thunderbox

It is well known that Gough Whitlam’s legacy is very vast, therefore, I have only chosen a few for example. To read more go to: The Whitlam Government’s achievements

In the 1970’s, the Liberals, not happy at all with such changes to our society, sought a means to attack this progress and ‘return Australia to its Status Quo – to the mediocre way Australians had lived before under the Liberals.” Through political mechanisms within our system, the LNP stamped their feet and got their own way.

The reason why I have highlighted the above is to me, the correlation between the attack on Julia Gillard and Gough Whitlam.  Why do I see this as a correlation between the two? Because both have the underlying construct of:

Shifting the status-quo to exclusion of groups, the notion that only ‘those who try succeed’, that everyone is equal, and the disadvantaged and unemployed are the burden of society’

In ways that Gough Whitlam shaped Australia, Julia Gillard was also attempting to do so. Policy highlights such as Gonski reforms (needs based funding for education), NDIS (Peace of mind for every Australian, for anyone who has, or might acquire, a disability), A price on Carbon (a leader ahead of many other western countries, now adopting a price on carbon), the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, an attack on Work Choices and the introduction of Fair Work Australia and Modern Awards, the National Broadband Network (which would give fast internet nationwide, including regional & rural), Plain packaging for cigarettes (a leader ahead of other nations wanting to adopt the same) and an apology to all persons affected by forced adoption practices, to name a few.

In fact, the IPA, the right wing think tank of Australia, found Prime Minister Gillard’s progress for Australians, so threatening to the Liberal way of life, they have issued a list to Abbott in 2011, to which he has agreed to implement.

The threat to the Liberal’s right-wing side of politics, that these progressive changes of the Gillard Government would become norm and adopted as the status quo amongst Australians, was a serious concern and action needed to be taken.

Indeed action was taken. The Liberals did not hold the balance of power in the senate, as they did in 1975, so they needed to adopt ways and means of bringing down a progressive and effective Government. They needed to ensure that the Liberals gained power. To do this, they needed to taint the left as corrupt, a shambles and not to be trusted.

The onslaught on Julia Gillard during her Prime Ministership was relentless, astounding, hateful and most of all untruthful.

The right, did not care if Prime Minister Gillard was not a criminal. The fact of the matter is, they had to paint her as a criminal to bring her down. Once the trust of the electorates where broken, through this tactic, they were home and hosed.

The idea behind the IPA’s list of ideas to Abbott is so that reforms could be torn down, as quickly as possible and that a push to the right through Liberal policy can shift the status quo to the hard right. The reasoning behind this, is once this becomes status quo, it will be extremely hard for any left Government in power to shift policy back to the progressive left.

This is summarized in this quote below from John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg of the IPA:

Only radical change that shifts the entire political spectrum, like Gough Whitlam did, has any chance of effecting lasting change. Of course, you don’t have to be from the left of politics to leave lasting change on the political spectrum.

Essentially, the IPA has requested Abbott push the country as far right as possible, so it then becomes adopted by the public as the status quo and becomes normal over time. This is the impetus behind the relentless attacks on the Prime Minister Gillard and her Government.

Now we have a situation where the former Prime Minister has been cleared of all criminal activity. The question is, how did this play in the minds of voters at the election in 2013? How did this sway the votes to the ‘trusted right?’ The question we need to ask ourselves now and in the future, is now we understand the true agenda of the Liberal party, do we vote again in 2016/17 for a progressive Australia, or the Liberals return to mediocrity?

With Gough’s passing, It’s time to think about where we are headed.

goughToday’s passing of Gough Whitlam has left me today with a heavy heart, along with so many other people in this country.  To simply reflect on how one man has progressed this country like no other, is overwhelming.   I believe as a collective, we don’t really stop and appreciate what we have.  We do take our wonderful country, our people and our existing social support systems for granted.  So many things we would not have without Gough Whitlam. Thank you, to a great man.

Like many others, I spend my days and nights thinking about the Abbott Government and worrying about their next plan or policy that could harm us now and for generations to come.  I worry about the deals in the Senate and what destructive policy may slip through for approval. I worry about the vulnerable, the disadvantaged.  I worry about families, teenagers, the elderly and young children.  I worry about our nation’s first people. I worry about our environment, entire communities, particularly in rural and regional areas.

I have realised, that I am part of a collective, that in reality is taking part in a war; but we use our voices, not guns.

I know this, as I know there are many like me, who stay informed and are active and do everything we can to prevent Abbott’s destructive policies and plans for our communities and country. (and to these people I say thank you.)

Last night, I was researching the IPA’s influence on our Prime Minister.  For those of you who are not aware of the IPA., they class themselves as the “independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom.”    In a nutshell, they are a union. Not the type of union that fights for rights and equality, but one that aims to demolish rights and equality through their right-wing ideological view of what Australia should look like.

On the 4 April, 2013, Tony Abbott promised the IPA that he would adopt their ideas. Some of the IPA’s ideas adopted or flagged as intended by our Prime Minister so far are:

  1. Repeal the Carbon Tax
  2. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
  3. Repeal Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act
  4. Introduce fee competition to Australian Universities
  5. Cease subsidising the Australian Car Industry
  6. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
    a) Lower personal income tax for residents
    b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    c) Encourage the construction of dams
  7. Repeal the Mining Tax
  8. Privatise Medibank
  9. Privatise Australia Post
  10. Cease Funding the Australia Network

For those of you who may thought that the Abbott Government thinks up their own ideas, sorry to break it to you, but…no…as you can see above, an un-elected party –  IPA runs Australia.

The above list is from a more extensive list titled “Be Like Gough – 75 Radical Ideas to transform Australia.”  The title is not admiration of the left, but the right’s intrigue of how Gough Whitlam  radically transformed this country, with such a lasting legacy in such a small space of time.

With Gough’s passing, it is time to take a look at ourselves as a country and how we want to progress and what are we prepared to lose?  

What struck me as I was completing this research was a quote from the IPA’s  John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg’s article:

Only radical change that shifts the entire political spectrum

AND

And the public’s bias towards the status quo has a habit of making even the most radical policy (like Medicare, or restrictions on freedom of speech) seem normal over time.

How will we be shaped by the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm to adopt and enforce policy under the direction of the IPA?  So many people at the moment are up in arms about freedom in the current climate of war and ISAS; but so many of us calmly sit at home and not realise what terror is upon is on the domestic front.

The reason why it is so important to stop and really take in what is happening here is, what does this IPA list really mean and what should we take from Abbott’s eagerness to adopt this list?

Essentially, the IPA has requested Abbott push the country as far right as possible, so it then becomes adopted by the public as the status quo and becomes normal over time.

As we sit around complacent and taking for granted our University system, our health system, our industrial relations protections, our right to live peacefully and not be racially vilified, a social welfare safety net and a basic minimum wage; we need to stop and think that with the wrong Government it could all be gone.

Everything mentioned above, that we enjoy, take for granted and cannot simply imagine not being there are also on the list of the IPA to attack, destroy and disintegrate.  A list that Abbott is so keen to ratify.

Stop and think for a moment.  If Abbott & the IPA’s agenda pans out; right-wing, neo-liberal ideology will become the norm.   Can you imagine one day for it to be normal to scoff at the idea of a Government wanting to introduce bulk billing doctors and free medical treatment?  Stop and think about that.

Gough’s “It’s Time” campaign was central to motivating the people of the country to recognise it was time for change.  Time to move beyond the selfish, stagnant, egoist policies of a Liberal Government and progress.   Malcolm Fraser said today that the Liberal Party has jumped leagues to the right and the ALP has jumped leagues to the right from Whitlam.

It is time to speak up about progress, to want it, to desire it so much it hurts.  It is time for the opposition to lead the country back to the left. To set a solid platform for strong change and progress.  Real respect for Gough starts with respect and commitment to the legacy he left for us.  It’s time for change.

Gough’s policies changed Australia forever, in a very good way. The best way and the way forward.  It only takes one election to have us put our guard down. To be complacent, to donkey vote, or to take slogans as something meaningful and promising for our nation, rather than seeing them for the vapid, empty, soul-destroying agenda’s that they really are.

Gough Whitlam’s passing today really highlights how destructive the Abbott Government is. It is heartbreaking our country has come to this.

Landry Laughs at Budget Cut Hurt

Budget 2014

In Question time 26/05/14, Tanya Plibersek, asked a question about our electorate and Michelle Landry, Member for Capricornia. The question was as follows:

My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, There are 8429 families currently receiving Family Tax Benefit B in the seat of Capricornia. How many families with children over the age of six in Capricornia will have their payments cut as a result of this budget? Why should these families suffer because of the Member for Capricornia’s failure to stand up against the Prime Minister’s cuts?

 

The PM didn’t respond to the implications of the cuts. In fact, he showed no empathy at all. He accused Labor of supporting welfare as “pseudo-generosity.” What he is saying is Labor gives to those in need, but is not genuine in that giving. That this ‘giving’ shouldn’t be taken seriously. He has clearly stated in response to a serious question about this electorate, that he finds welfare to the disadvantaged as ‘generosity’ and not a right.

The Member for Capricornia & LNP believe in a class divide. They clearly believe it will be OK for parents not to be able to afford a balanced healthy lunch for their school children. That they may need to make a decision between a child’s breakfast or lunch. They don’t understand the importance of being able to afford the right school supplies and uniforms. They don’t realise the pain a parent feels when they say, “No honey, I’m sorry, you can’t go on that excursion.” Or, I’d love for you to join a sport with your friends, or take singing lessons for the Eisteddfod, but I’m sorry you just can’t.”  Michelle Landry’s LNP sees the money that prevents this pain as an unnecessary generosity and not a right to the disadvantaged.

Landry’s LNP makes decisions from a background of privilege and they will never understand the hardship that the loss of even small amounts of money brings to some families.

The PM then told Labor they should cut the carbon tax, as it will save families $550 per year.

During the question, the camera panned to Ms. Landry. It showed Ms. Landry quite pleased with herself and she was laughing at the Prime Minister’s response to this very serious question.

 

landry laughing

 

Ms. Landry was laughing at harsh cuts that will see two parents both working as for example, shop assistants or a general labourer and an admin assistant, with two children, lose $4931 per year; or the jobseeker under 30, who will lose an incredible $6944 per year and have absolutely no income for six months. This person will not have any income for even a basic existence or the basic right to dignity. They will lose a lot more than $550, which is already compensated.

Will Ms. Landry be brave enough when she gets back from the rigours of parliament, to stand up in public and laugh in front of the people who are suffering these harsh cuts, or will she have the decency to stand up to this Government and for the people of Capricornia?

I have also sent this a a letter to the Editor of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin in response to the question about the affect the budget will have on families in the electorate I live in.  I hope it is published so the people in the electorate of Capricornia who voted LNP, understand that they voted for Ms. Landry to bring pain and hardship to this electorate.

Tony Abbott really is the Wizard of Oz

Wizard-of-Oz-Cast.-10124It isn’t right that a Prime Minister, who was dancing around like an audition for an Antz Pantz advert, screaming “The Government of Australia has changed! The Government of Australia has changed!” to thousands upon thousands of citizens who voted for him that day to plummet to the depths of poll hatred in a matter of months.

So what is really going on here? I think the analysis of why Abbott has plummeted in the polls, compared with anyone before him, is like comparing apples and oranges.

It would stand to reason, if an opposition leader fought on an honest platform, with vision and integrity for the betterment of the country, was voted in as Prime Minister, would either maintain popularity or increase popularity as this vision, built on an honest platform was implemented.

However, Mr. Abbott did not run on an honest platform. He promised the earth to the citizens of Australia and they got mud instead.

What Mr. Abbott didn’t realise, whilst in opposition was his strategy of bashing Labor, accusing them of deceit and lies and the creators of enormous, bad debt has contributed to his lack of popularity now.

If Abbott was a real strategist and a real leader, In 2010, he would have stepped up with honesty and humility and advised the people of Australia that he was prepared to introduce a carbon tax as well and in fact the only thing he wouldn’t do was sell his arse and it was a requirement to form Government with other parties. He could have built himself up in opposition, as a gracious, humble but honest leader.

However, just like a classic text book example of poor emotional intelligence, Abbott displayed poor self-regulation of emotions. In opposition, he acted upon his greed for leadership, driving forward an agenda of negativity about Labor amongst Australians. With poor self-regulation of emotions, he didn’t take the time to understand how his negativity and negative acts would affect the nation’s citizens.

In opposition, he acted with a bounded rationality, the limited cognitive ability of his own mind and made a decision to be an aggressive, unrelenting opposition leader. He was spreading like a contagion negativity, hatred and loathing towards Labor. This agenda worked, and he did become Prime Minister.  However, in another classic text book example of poor emotional intelligence, he lacked a deep insight into the symbolic and social interactions between himself and others – the voters.

He saw the citizens of this country up in arms about his versions of carbon tax, debt, boats and mess. He misunderstood this as solidarity, a positive event, resulting in mateship, togetherness and unity.  He thought that the emotion he was stirring was one of reverence and adoration towards himself as the people placed him in a position of legitimate power. He saw unity of purpose.  

However, the emotion he had really awakened was a sleeping monster called ‘The Fair Go’

Through Abbott’s negative, deceitful agenda and accusations surrounding the carbon tax, debt and asylum seekers the citizens of this nation saw from their perspective that they were not getting a fair go. and they were angry about it and they voted with that anger.

abbott landry pineapple2What Abbott should have been learning about the emotional state of Australia during the time of  setting Julia Gillard up with Carbon Tax Lies, is in general, Australians don’t like a rough end of a pineapple up their backsides. They don’t want to get F$@% in the Drive-through, they don’t want to get ripped off at the checkout and they don’t like dodgy refs at the footy. When we say “Fair Go, Mate” it has substance. We, as Australians, actually mean it.

wizard_oz_0712

See, Abbott was leading everyone down the yellow brick road to their most deepest desire – A Fair Go for all. He postured himself as the Great Wizard of Oz, who could give every citizen their heart’s desire, A Fair Go. However, when the citizens got to the end of the road and the Wizard of Oz delivered his budget – his great plans for Australia, the people’s dreams didn’t come true.

 

They saw the Great Wizard of Oz was just a man hiding behind a curtain, surrounded by a lot of steaming hot air and superficial bells and whistles.

They were told “Not to worry about the man behind the curtain” but he had exposed his true self and they wanted to know, “who the hell is he really?”  This isn’t the man they had come such a long way to see in action. The people were defeated because he simply could not give them what they desired. He was not the saviour of all citizens, he was not a miraculous wizard. He was simply just a man. A deceitful man.

The funny thing is, by lying about the Carbon Tax as an agreement to form Government and accusing Julia Gillard and Labor of lies, it has stirred an emotion inside once apathetic Australians, that is now manifesting and won’t let go. An emotion that now places Abbott squarely as one of the most hated Prime Ministers in the World.

In keeping true to the storyline of the Wizard of Oz, Abbott has encouraged people to look inside themselves for their true desire and realise it was there all along.

To all the Tin Men out there who voted without a Heart; through his budget measures, Abbott has given you the heart to feel compassion for the disadvantaged in our society. He has given you the heart to understand that he has removed people’s rights and not ended the age of entitlement. He has given you the heart to understand that our taxes as a collective give sick men, women and children, the fundamental right to universal health care and should never be compromised.

To all the Scarecrows out there who voted without a brain; through his budget measures, Abbott has given you the brains to stop reading Murdoch news, to stop basing your decisions on three word slogans and pamphlets and to educate yourself on the real state of affairs by reading a wide range of news. He has given you the brains to understand that the global economy does not operate like your household budget.

To all the MiM6Lions out there, who voted without any courage; through his budget measures, Abbott has given you the courage to open up political discussions with friends, the courage to write letters to the Editor, the courage to join in on political forums and the courage to march with thousands of others in protest against the worst decisions a Government has made, since Federation.

And to you Dorothy, the one who voted with kindness, compassion and an ethical platform of justice, you know you aren’t in Australia anymore. But you have faith, that with your friends The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and the Lion, you will keep marching along together, until you wake up and find yourself again in a country based on democracy, a fair go, social justice, universal health, affordable education and where there is no class divide.

I never thought I would say this Mr. Abbott, but, your agenda of deceit and negativity on the Carbon Tax, Boats and Debt and Deficit, has resulted in one of the most positive outcomes for our society as a whole….and for that, I say Thank You.

Scott Ludlam’s speech made me understand why so many voted for Abbott.

one percent

What day was it, when Australians jumped out of bed and said, “I no longer expect my Prime Minister to display any type of leadership and vision?”

What day was it, when we lowered our standards?

Today I watched Scott Ludlam’s speech to the Senate “Our Vision for Western Australia”  The first thing that struck me, was not the eloquence of his speech, nor the insightfulness of his speech, but the fact that I have never heard our Prime Minister Tony Abbott give a speech with such leadership, vision and clarity, than what I have just witnessed. This type of speech from Tony Abbott? Never. 

What day will it be, when Australians jump out of bed and say, “You know what? If I am going to vote for you, I deserve better than what you are giving. I deserve to hear something like this…”

 

From various political parties and leaders over the years, we have had some great leadership and vision and some great speeches. Whether we agree with their ideologies or policies, regardless of the Government of the Day, all former leaders were committed to their vision for our nation.  Some delivered great speeches with clarity and purpose, some with anger and frustration and some with the excitement of one’s own heart. Regardless of party affiliation, we as a people, historically have expected leadership and a great vision for our country. We wanted to know what changes were ahead of us. How would the Government improve the country, protect the people and most of all, would the Government’s decisions provide a fair go and equal opportunity for all?

A review of campaign speeches over the last twelve elections, commencing with Bob Hawke’s speech in 1983, shows all successfully elected Prime Ministers gave an election speech, that was in-depth, gave background to various concerns for Australia and their vision for the solution and why and how and often when. The average word length for these speeches was 5071 words long.  Mr. Abbott’s election campaign speech was just a mere 2834 words long and noticeably absent in the compare and contrast were any of the above inclusions.

The other noticeable difference in all the speeches over the last twelve elections is that if you view them, you will see ideas generated paragraph by paragraph. Even the shortest speech (John Howard’s of 2045 words in 1996) encapsulates his vision in paragraph form.

If you are a bored nerd like me, you can read all the speeches here – enjoy!

 http://electionspeeches.moadoph.gov.au/explore

I have found it most alarming and most disturbing undertaking this research, to discover that voters were satisfied with Tony Abbott’s speech enough to vote for his party and hand him the Prime Ministership and his speech did not contain one paragraph; but was a series short sentences of one liners.  It was on the basis of a series of one liners, that voters chose to commit to him and trust this man to make decisions about our future.  I’ll say it again….A series of one liners is all it took.  

Voter Apathy in Australia was the highest at the last election, with the lowest percentage of the voting age population turning out to vote, since 1946.  This is consistent with voter disengagement and hence lack of political awareness. Making the pop-culture of sound bites and three word slogans easier to absorb (and vote for).

Voters didn’t ask for more, or require more; because they settled for a lesser standard.  

I now understand why so many voted for Abbott and why so many now are Marching in the streets. I’m also asking people to “Turn the Ship Around.” We need to engage more, expect more and demand a higher standard!  We need to demand more speeches like Scott Ludlam’s!

Yes, Abbott and Co, used the great marketing psychology of one liners and effective slogans to woo the voters on the day; but then again, so does the Demtel man and the Shamwow man; and although they are very convincing, we seriously don’t see them as Prime Minister material, but yet….

Considering the massive turn out at MarchInMarch, there are very large groups of people within our great country who are seriously unhappy with our current Government after such a short time. I hope all voters in the future demand to the minimum the standard of Speech Scott Ludlam has given to the people in his most recent speeches in the Senate. I ask each and every one of you to remember this great one liner, chalk it up to experience and to always think before you vote:

 experience is what you get, when you didn’t get what you wanted  (Randy Pausch)

Think Before you Vote.  Join a political party like the ALP or Greens or other left-wing/progressive parties. Make sure you know who preferences who. Get Active. Get Engaged. Discuss issues with family and friends. Share information on Social Media. Join Get Up! or MarchInMarch. Read a wide range of news media, including Independent Media. Work hard to prevent Conservative Governments like the Liberal-National Coalition destroying our great country, embarrassing us on the world stage and instilling great hardship on our loved ones, friends and neighbours and on our communities. You CAN make a difference! 

A Very Coalition Christmas And The Wonderful Gifts They Gave Us

To keep with the spirit of Christmas, I’ve done a new take on my blog this week. You will still get the same updates and happenings from the Abbott Govt., but just with a different theme. As I feel like I have been plunged into an alternate Dystopian Universe, since the election of this Govt, I’ve decided its a pretty apt setting for this week. Its my type of satire, I hope most of you enjoy it….(If you want to just read the weekly update, just scroll down past the story to the links :/ (ya grinch!) )


A Very Coalition Christmas & The Wonderful Gifts They Gave Us 

(A Christmas Tale set in Dystopian Abbotstraylia)

It was only ten days until Christmas. A type of mediocre Christmas Cheer filled the air. People were busily going about their day and then suddenly everyone stopped. They stopped eating, stopped working, stopped everything. Since the the dissolving of the old Senate and the laws passing through the new ‘tough laws’ committee headed by Dictator Newman of Newmansland; everyone knew it was in their best interest to immediately view any messages from their leader and assistant to the reigning Monarch. In a matter of seconds, millions of Phones in Abbotstraylia hummed and buzzed simultaneously with a new You Tube message from the country’s leader.

The video was panned all the way out and he was standing near his exquisite Christmas table, full of fine food, with his party seated in rows behind him, faithful smiling dutifully in the background (except for the education minister who was doing a weird thing with his nose).  The speaker of the house wasn’t aware that they were now live to air. She interjected, “Order Order, I need to check the video….again! I want to make sure that Nick Champion isn’t gate crashing our party. I’ve kicked him out of OUR house so many times already!!! “SHHHHHH!!!” the foreign affairs minister said, “oh shush, I’m trying to out-stare the cameraman, please be quiet” she whispered indignantly, (all whilst remaining very focused, unblinking and with a slightly poised head tilt to the left).

Then out of nowhere, all was calm and all was quiet. They all returned to their conservative demure states. Only glancing ever so slightly out of the corner of their eyes to see a giant black clipboard and a pointing finger.  The cameraman obviously taking directions from somewhere in the room, shakily zooms closer to the leader’s image. The Nation’s Leader, standing in an poise which was so overtly practised to show ‘calm, but dignified’, clasped his hands ever so gently in front of him, he coughed, blinked his eyes and licked his lips and begins….

“Umm Ahh First of all….Um…I’d like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. Ahh umm As you know, since our Governor General Howard agreed to dissolve the Senate and replaced them with the Ah “Big Ideas’ ,”Tough New Laws” and “Good Friends, Very Good Friends and Best Friends” Committees, we were able to Ah axe the tax and stop the boats by removing ourselves from that Ah messy charter the previous very bad Government signed. I must say this though, we have done our part for humanitarian aid, as our 457 visas have a massive take up for just $2.00 a day. We are proud to give jobs to so many people from countries of our good friends and best friends and BFF’s for Life friends.

We are also Ah very pleased that the take up of half price schooling for your children, has started to really pick up by linking this as a reward by the signing of individual contracts with the Bourgeoisie under ah um version 26 of Work Solutions.

The country is open for business and by Ah Umm next Christmas, I want to be excited to tell you that we will have achieved 50% employment.  To encourage more women to stay at home, we have ah um discounted the paywall for Foxtel, our National Broadcaster by $100 per month. This is great news as more women staying home and doing the ironing, will free up the jobs for the real men of this country and will help turn around the mess we have been trying to clean up, left by the previous very bad Government.  I just need to stress again, this was a very bad Government. As promised, as we are an open and transparent Government, unlike the previous very bad Government, I now turn behind me to the wonderful men and woman in blue ties to give you the following wonderful gifts to share with all of you” Once again, I wish you a safe and happy Christmas. 

The camera then pans back out and the Nation’s leader sits amongst them, right in the middle. Its as if he is about to burst into “close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you..” but instead he pauses and takes a breath and smiles…

.“Thank you to everyone who voted Liberal and National in September 2013. Whether you are rich and elitist, or whether you have no clue you were rabble-roused and voted against your own interests, it doesn’t matter. I thank you for all these wonderful gifts we can give the nation. For without you Coalition voters, we wouldn’t be able to deliver any of this……” 

Ms Ellis said the government’s process was ”shambolic” and ”cruel” to child care workers before Christmas.

Whilst engaging in active rabble-rousing to convince you to think Unions are evil, we say things like this, “The aged care scheme was “unionism by stealth” (Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker)

  • As you know Liberal and National Voters, we only like people who are are good friends, our very good friends, our best friends and our BFF 4 Life friends.  Do BFFs tell tales on their BFFs? No, they do not! In the past, Salvation Army workers have blown the whistle on harsh conditions at both Manus and Nauru.

“I particularly worry the quality of advice they’re now going to receive from experts will be diminished.” (The chairman of the First Peoples Education Advisory Group, Emeritus Professor Paul Hughes)

Mr Abbott said the High Court decision was ”disappointing” for couples who wed in Canberra at the weekend under the ACT’s now defunct same-sex marriage laws, but that they knew the risks of the pending court action by his government.

NB: Please see another blog this week, which covers discrimination due to the current marriage laws, amongst other areas of discrimination:  – An Open Letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women.

That was the week that was 8 – 14 December 2013. Anyway enjoy your week-end coalition voters. Absolutely amazing effort this week. Don’t drink too much, you need to stand proud and all that…Cheers. See you next week.

Although my Christmas Story is set in a Dystopian era, my view is that if people are not engaged and do not understand who and what they are voting for, this Dystopia could become a dreadful reality…

Think Before you Vote.  Join a political party like the ALP or Greens or other left-wing/progressive parties. Get Active. Get Engaged. Discuss issues with family and friends. Share information on Social Media. Join Get Up! Read a wide range of news media. Work hard to prevent right-wing Governments like the Liberal-National Coalition destroying our great country, embarrassing us on the world stage and instilling great hardship on our loved ones, friends and neighbours and on our communities. You CAN make a difference! 

merry-christmas2

Libs Are Rockin’ In The House Tonight!!!!!! Yes!! Great week everyone! Let’s celebrate this!

Well what a week it has been for the Liberal and National Party Voters of Australia.  I know so many of you were really truly excited during the election to read the Liberal Party’s Pamphlet  “Plan for Real Action”  or “Real Solutions” I know my local member must still be in election mode, she is still using slogans like “Open for Business” and “Shorten’s Shambles” as recently as this week. Anyway….. let’s celebrate the achievements of this week against the “Plan for Live  Real Action” (Sorry for that slip, Turtle Man)

Lets see how the Coalition Shaped up this Week

Backflipping on Education

(Real Solutions P. 40) We will deliver better schools, encourage better teachers, better teaching and give principals, communities and parents a greater say over schoolsWe will put parents, principals and school communities, not unaccountable bureaucrats, in charge of determining how their school will be run to improve performance

Kudos Mr. Pyne, for the first move towards wiping your hands of ‘Governmental Responsibility’ Back flipping on Gonski, because it seems only the “Principals of Calibre” will know how to spend money wisely. The Commonwealth has implied that, if there is a reduction in funding … that reduction may well only come out of public schools http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/gonski-public-schools-targeted-for-cuts-says-adrian-piccoli-20131129-2yg3k.html#ixzz2m1VV82pa

Here, Jane Caro explains what “Shorten’s Shambles” means in dollar terms, as the Liberals appear to have extreme difficulty in applying any clarity or reasoning behind their childish nicknames  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-26/caro-gonski-funding/5117260

GST for Online Purchases

(Real Solutions P. 18) We have a plan for Australia – a plan to lower taxes….We pledge to the families of Australia that we will never make lives harder

(….Except if you shop online to save money, only big corporations are allowed to save money, not the peasant people) http://www.smh.com.au/business/open-letter-to-state-treasurers-you-should-all-be-sacked-20131129-2yf7u.html

Maybe the promise that “we won’t change the GST” left wriggle room to mean “we won’t change the GST, but it’s the states’ tax so if they want to change it, we won’t stand in their way”. That spreads the political pain (Michael Pascoe)  

http://www.smh.com.au/business/states-must-unite-for-gst-reform-20130920-2u3zl.html

Closure of yet another vital service

(Real Solutions P. 38) “That is why the coalition is so determined to deliver a strong, prosperous economy, because it allows us to invest in more government services, like NDIS, Health, Aged Care and Education. 

(…Except if it is education on drug and alcohol prevention, we don’t mean that type of community prevention and education) The Alcohol and Other Drugs  Council has now ceased due to Tony Abbott’s cuts) http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/alcohol-and-other-drugs-council-of-australia-in-administration-after-tony-abbott-cuts-20131126-2y836.html

…That’s when good Neighbours (don’t) become good Friends

(Real Solutions P. 24) We will develop stronger people to people relationships and foster mind-set and and skills set needed to make the most of Asia’s ongoing economic transformation.

Now I know it will be hard to believe, Abbott apologists, but the Jakarta Post is not owned by those left wing trollsters at the ABC. But hey, at least your hero is popular. Front page and everything!

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australias-reputation-in-indonesia-hits-new-low-20131123-2y2k2.html

Now Now, before you scream “It was Rudd the Dud” this one is worth a read… http://theaimn.com/2013/11/30/indonesia-remains-important-for-australia-under-abbott-or-why-indonesians-dont-like-him/

I think it is time to raise your glasses again. This time to the fact that the coalition will ensure that 40 percent of year 12 students will preferably learn an Asian language (Real Solutions P.41) . This is needed desperately, especially for our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop as China says,

‘Australia’s irresponsible statements on the East Sea air defence identification zone are completely mistaken; China cannot accept them,” the statement said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-27/china-rejects-australian-criticism-of-new-air-zone/5120920

NBN Update

(Real Solutions P. 32) We will roll out super-fast broadband using whichever is the most effective and cost efficient technology and we will use existing infrastructure where we can.

Raise your glasses Liberal and National Voters because tonight you can celebrate your wonderful party talking about the NBN longer, because it is going to take oh so much longer…

The Coalition’s national broadband network model will prove inadequate for many businesses, is poorly planned and is unlikely to be completed on time, according to NBN Co’s internal analysis for the incoming Abbott government.

http://www.afr.com/p/technology/deadline_doubts_for_coalition_nbn_YhOEFqv0zeFtIpITWLjz8H

Small Business

(Real Solutions P. 26) We have an economic plan for Australia – A plan to help small business grow and create stronger jobs growth. 

(…..But we don’t mean those small rural and regional businesses….the ones with really bad internet that stifles their day to day operations and competitiveness)

The FTTH NBN isn’t needed by small businesses in regional communities. Saving money on big Labor waste used to help businesses such as this, must make you overjoyed that you voted for your local Liberal or National candidate.

http://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/net-glitch-stymies-business-bouldercombe-adsl/2099649/

Employment 

(Real Solutions P. 33) We will generate one million jobs over the next five years and two million jobs over the next decade)

(…..except you pesky people who work in Car Manufacturing….you will just have to find new jobs. We think you will find it consoling that the coalition is so committed to education and training)

Up to 200,000 direct and indirect jobs are in the balance as the Government sends mixed signals about whether it will meet requests to provide continued co-investment in the industry.  http://workinglife.org.au/2013/11/26/car-industry-cant-wait/

(More) Asset Sales 

(Real Solutions P. 38) We will deliver better Government services by working in close co-operation with the State and Territory governments.

(Except Government services that could be lucrative asset sales…we don’t mean those Government services)

Mr Hockey has offered his state and territory counterparts potentially billions of dollars in tax incentives if they sell off public assets and put the money into new job-creating infrastructure.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/recycling-public-assets-vital-for-future-growth-joe-hockey/story-fn59niix-1226770406737

Enjoy your weekend!

That was the week that was 24-30 November 2013. Anyway enjoy your week end coalition voters. Absolutely amazing effort this week. Don’t drink too much, you need to stand proud and all that…Cheers. See you next week.

Think Before you Vote.  Join a political party like the ALP or Greens or other left wing/progressive parties. Get Active. Get Engaged. Discuss issues with family and friends. Share information on Social Media. Join Get Up! Read a wide range of news media. Work hard to prevent right wing Governments like the Liberal-National Coalition destroying our great country, embarrassing us on the world stage and instilling great hardship on our loved ones, friends and neighbours and on our communities. You CAN make a difference!

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. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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