The Hashtag #MalcolmWasSoPoor has been trending around the Twitter-verse. This is in response to a recent public video from our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. In a cruel morbidly satirical twist to the election; our obnoxiously wealthy, high end of town associated, Cayman Island investing, Australian Prime Minister has tried to prop himself up as the very battler his own party oppresses.
Turnbull tells the story of his single father – A hotel broker – a life of real battles and struggles. He speaks about this battle and struggle of a hotel broker parent as synonymous with the lives of other single parents – the low paid workers and the welfare dependent.
In his out of touch way, he also tries to draw the implicit comparison that genuinely poor people understand, and that is that ‘sometimes love is all that gets us through.’
Love is all that gets us through when we need to eat hot milk, bread and sugar to fill our tummies and keep us warm; not when we are worrying about what the elite private school we are attending might be serving us for lunch!
It is well known that Turnbull has had a privileged life, attending a school for the wealthy, has had high-flying well known connections to assist him to get ahead in life and is now a multi-millionaire. Australians are not dolts and the viral hash-tag shows that many Australians are beyond belief at this latest grab for votes.
This attempt to identify with those in poverty, would have been more palatable, if he had recognised his privilege, but identified that he has used that privilege to listen to people and work on ways to help them. But he did not.
The release of this video in the midst of an election – an election with class-war as the centrepiece, draws parallels to cultural appropriation in the form of poverty appropriation.
You simply cannot dress yourself up as a poor and disadvantaged person and ‘borrow’ that way of life as if this gives you entitlement to the pain and struggles of these people. It is insulting and denies the credit of the struggle of the poor and disadvantaged that they deserve. Poverty appropriation is a new low in politics.
The disconnect of Turnbull and the Liberal party to the poor and disadvantaged demographic is ingrained within their constitution:
2. d (vi) looking primarily to the encouragement of individual initiative and enterprise as the dynamic force of progress. Which translates to:
This is a stuff and nonsense platitude that does nothing but add another label or ‘laziness’ or ‘bludger’ to the poor and disadvantaged, who are already stigmatised by the empty LNP rhetoric and their harsh policy decisions.
Turnbull doesn’t want us to look at the Duncan Storrar’s of this world and say ‘how can we help as a collective – as a nation? How can we work together to do better to assist people like Duncan lead a better life? What can the Government do about this?’
No, Turnbull wants us to look at people like Duncan and cry:
“Shame! You have not used your own initiative, you are lazy and can do better! The Liberal Party gives you the individual freedom and punitive welfare measures to push you forward and make you work hard and the free market to do this in. It is your fault if you cannot be the best you can be.”
…and this was very loudly backed up by the Liberal Party’s biggest advocates – The Murdoch Press.
There are kids who are the real battlers of today, who do not need to use some type of poverty appropriation to experience it, to empathise with it or identify with it – they live it every day. Here are ten kids poorer than Malcolm:
1. The eight year old boy in regional and rural Australia who is struggling to get a proper education because his family has no access to the internet.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his judgement of rural and regional Australians that he completely misunderstands their communications needs and how a communications infrastructure is essential and affects their prospects for the future.
2. The ten year old girl who can sing like an angel, who has the potential to be another Dame Joan Sutherland, but is unable to compete beyond the local eisteddfod, as her parents cannot afford singing lessons, let alone the travel for state or national competition.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding of how a few spare dollars a fortnight can make the future so different for some children, when his party cut Family Payments.
3. The seven year old girl in a regional community who misses her dad so much when he goes away for treatment for weeks at a time, as the regional hospital does not have the services to treat his condition.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding of the crucial role public health plays, particularly in regional communities when his Government cut critical health funding by $80 billion dollars.
4. The six year old boy who sees the shame in his mother’s eyes simultaneously with the judging eyes of the shop assistant as his mother hands over her Basic’s Card and he feels the not yet understood feeling of stigma.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his life experience that he cannot empathise and feel the shame and stigma that income management brings.
5. The nine year old girl with undiagnosed learning problems who will get further and further behind, because the school cannot afford additional remedial support staff to assist her.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his choosing a life dedicated to individualism and the free market over democratic socialism, that he cannot comprehend how an ideology based on individualism hurts those most in need and it is the chain that holds them back when he chose not to ‘Go the Full Gonski – whatever that means.’
6. The three young children who were so hungry their stomachs hurt, because they were unlucky to live in a disaster prone area when a flood hit and they had no access to funding for food after all of theirs was spoilt and destroyed.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in the checking of his privilege when he supported his party to cut Labor’s disaster funding guidelines which excluded so many needy disaster stricken families in desperate need of financial assistance.
7. The eleven year old girl who knows how to grab her four year old brother quickly to find the hiding spot and knows how to keep very, very still and not make a sound as she cries when she hears her mother get thumped and dragged and beaten and her heart races with every blood curdling scream, because Mummy says there is no where for them to go.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his commitment to feminism when the Liberal party cut funding to domestic violence services and Community Legal Centres in Australia and decided to inadequately address funding needs for this sector in the budget.
8. The young person who will suicide next week due to not being able to cope with early onset of psychosis and his family cannot afford $600 to see a private psychologist.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding that all lives matter more than dollars when he made the commitment to discontinue organisations such as the The Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) program.
9. The young teenage girl who will develop serious health problems and die at only age 26, as in making the choice between a paying for a blood test or food, she chose food.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his foresight that destroying and privatising Medicare that this situation will be a young person’s future reality.
10. The thirteen year old boy who is so afraid inside, but must show he is brave as he continually swallows the urge to cry, as he sleeps tucked up inside a stolen sleeping bag in an abandoned industrial building with his new ‘friends’.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his comprehension that being a homeless youth is terrifying, lonely and dangerous when the Turnbull-Abbott government cut more than $500 million from homelessness support services.
As a child raised below the poverty line, this latest Turnbull video – an attempt at garnering votes saw me initially remain silent. Regardless of Turnbull’s intention with this video, it has made me feel by ‘borrowing the lived experience of real poverty’ as his own, he has mocked my childhood and my experiences with contempt as he lilts and lulls his inflections with aplomb and tries to romanticise a life of disadvantage as ‘one that is the foundation of success’, as long as you have a ‘good dad.’
As someone who normally enjoys political satire, I have not been able to participate in the #MalcolmWasSoPoor Twitter frenzy and mock Turnbull’s attempt at poverty appropriation. I did not know why, until I worked out how this had actually made me feel.
I can only speak for how I feel and not for others, but this latest political stunt has developed a seething inner child who has screamed so loudly to stand in solidarity with the children of poverty who exist today that I was compelled to pen this post and give them voice through this medium.
To say the least, writing this list has been extremely confrontational, even with my own lived experience. I have used poetic licence to bring these stories into the context of today, but every single example is a built from a real example of someone I have made a connection with throughout my life, except for number 9, which is a hypothetical of the result of a Medicare system under destruction. These stories are not fiction.
Rich or Poor we have the power in this country to make our world better for these children and we can do that with a vote. There are children like these in every electorate, this is their reality. Vote for an end to the conservative agenda permeated with individualism and put the LNP last on July 2. Our voice is our power. Please use it wisely.
That is just a list of 20 examples of people who don’t just have a difficult day, they have a difficult day every single day whilst your Government is hurting everyday Australians. Please call an election. It’s not just the Speaker who needed to go. Your entire Government needs to go.
Kevin 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
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.
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.
It 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.
What 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.
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 Lions 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.
Over the last few days, I have been at a loss to try to work out, what problems the Liberal National Coalition are trying to solve with their 2014 Budget. It didn’t matter what I came up with – a solution to increasing the value of our education…Nope. A solution to providing support to the jobless to secure employment and make their way in the world…Nope. A solution to improving our standard of health in this country…Nope. Then I realised…I needed to think like a Bastard. I did tweet this today and a fellow tweeter responded with a more apt update:
The Bastard thinking cap blocks out all empathy and rational thought and just makes you think like a conservative, pompous, out of touch with reality, elitist Bastard. If we put our Bastard Thinking Cap on, the problems the budget is trying to solve becomes crystal clear. I will now outline the problem and solutions below with my Bastard Thinking Cap firmly in place.
Left: Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey demonstrate their custom designed Bastard Thinking Caps.
Problem – Australia currently does not have a big enough class divide. We have far too much of the ‘middle class and frankly they don’t do enough.’ We need to widen the divide so we create an elitist ruling class and a poverty-stricken class. The poverty stricken class must be large and live in abject poverty and the Elitist ruling class must be extremely wealthy and have a lot of power. This will then act as a driver to the middle class who are the main drivers of the economy. They will then try to work their guts out for a long time, until 70 to achieve status of the elitist ruling class (but we will make sure they don’t get there), out of fear they may end up in the poverty class. This increase in productivity will be good for the country, as long as we can keep this model sustainable.
Solution: Budget 2014 – Force people into abject poverty for at least six months of the year and take thousands of dollars from the lower and middle classes. This will create a massive class divide. If they don’t end up in the poverty class, they will get a taste of it and that is a good way to solve our problem.
Problem – The problem with Australia is we currently have a lot of those low socio economic leftist thinkers and ugh ‘poor people’ making a lot of noise and disrupting the good work of the Government with all their protests and ideas. If they didn’t have ideas of their own, they wouldn’t protest. We certainly need to stop them getting into any area where they might have power or make laws for this country. How can we stop the ideas from the socially left rabble and ugh ‘poor people’?
Solution part A -Budget 2014 – Firstly we need to stop of those kids from poor families attending a public school getting into university. We need to rip out a lot of money from the school system. Parents of Calibre who love their children will already have made something of their life to earn enough to put their child into a private school. This way nearly all university students will be from the elitist ruling class, and deservedly so.
Solution part B – Budget 2014 – We need to make it really tough for poor people to enter University. Our main aim is to stop any ideas from poor people and prevent them at all costs from getting into jobs where they have power or create rules or laws. Therefore as part of Budget 2014, we will make sure that it is really expensive to go to university. Parents of Calibre will already have made something of their life to support their kids at uni. This way only the elitist class will graduate into jobs that gives them power and ability to make rules and laws, and deservedly so.
Problem – The problem is Australia has too many poor people sponging off the health system. If the elitist class need to spend their hard earned money to pay for private cover, why should they fund the poor people to go to the doctor as well? We need to make sure that they understand that going to the doctor is just for sick people. Not just bludging hypochondriacs who mooch off the tax payer. Besides, we can’t have these people clogging up the public system. The problem in Australia, is if there was an epidemic or major disaster and the doctors and private hospitals didn’t have enough room, we are paving the way to ensure that some simply cannot afford to go. This will make room for the elitist class if they need to use the health system, in the event of an epidemic or major disaster and deservedly so.
Solution: Budget 2014 – Get rid of Universal Health Care. Charge poor people to go to the Doctor. This means that they won’t go to the Doctor as much and won’t be clogging up the health system. The public system should be thought of as a contingency plan or ‘safe haven’ for the elitist class, in the case of an epidemic or disaster and there is no room in private. For the under 30s who will have no income at all; this will encourage them to stay fit and healthy and looking for work, or they will need to suffer in silence as they don’t even have $7.00 for the doctor. I mean, if these poor people sold the mags off the Commy and put on standard rims, they would have plenty of money to go to the doctor. It is simple really.
So there we have it folks. The Bastard Thinking Cap truly works. You really can think like a Real Bastard with one on. You really do think and feel like the 1%.
It makes understanding the Real Solutions behind the budget very easy indeed. Go on. Try it!
The original pic of Tony Abbott in this blog post he was wearing this rainbow hat:
This is in fact a photo of Abbott in a rainbow hairnet worn by SPC and Ardmona workers in Shepparaton to raise awareness regarding organ and tissue donation, via the charity Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation.
Zaidee Turner was the only person under the age of 16 to donate her organs and tissues
When she died of a cerebral haemorrage in 2004. Zaidee had lived in Shepparton
The Author apologises if any offence was caused. No offence or intended mockery of this cause was intended by the Author.