Friday, 31 March 2017

Dear Malcolm, Barnaby, Scott, Peter, Julie, Alan and friends - before you put that federal budget to bed in May let me tell you about those living in relative poverty

As the Coalition Government approaches yet another cost cutting budget – the fourth since your political parties regained federal government – I’ve noticed how financially comfortable all six of you are in comparison to a great many of other Australians.

It must be satisfying to see your names listed against family homes, rural properties and investments:

8 March 2017
13 January 2017
13 February 2017
15 February 2017
28 November 2016
16 December 2016

However, before your red pens slash across currently funded government programs covering health, education, training, community legal services and various forms of income support, you need to remove those ideological blinkers from your eyes and really look at the people you have been labelling welfare cheats, leaners, lazy bludgers and worse for the last four years.

They are not an anonymous horde harbouring a vile intent to drain money from the pockets of your family, friends and business acquaintances.

These ordinary people are not your enemy.

They are two parents with three young children but only one low-paying casual job bringing in a weekly wage.
The single mother at the bus stop who has to scrimp and save for months to buy her children new school shoes because her rent is too high and her part-time wage too small to allow her to buy all necessities easily.
The old man living alone in a rented flat who goes without meals to pay the veterinary bill for his only companion – his faithful old dog.
It is the grandmother with arthritis who gets up at 5am every weekday so she can travel to her son’s house to babysit her grandchildren so both he and his wife can work to cover the normal bills of a growing family.
A 23 year-old permanently confined to a wheelchair who is determined to live a full life and is out there job hunting every week.
Or the 17 year-old on the street selling The Big Issue to get extra money towards a boarding house bed and meals, because growing up in care left him without a support network.
It’s every middle aged person holding down three separate 8 hour-jobs each week to make ends meet in the face of widespread employer age discrimination and not enough job vacancies.
And so many volunteers in every town or village who spend their few spare pension dollars getting back and forth to the unpaid jobs that keep community alive.

These are people who deserve the certainty of an adequate universal welfare safety net – they are also the voters you will have to face in 2018.

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