The government’s negative response to the country’s growing poverty figures highlights the largesse of apathy toward our most vulnerable.
There seems to be some persistent myth amongst the Coalition and other Liberal Party types that the majority of people on welfare or “the dole” are spending the public’s money solely on drugs, fast cars, or gambling it away in crack-flavoured back-alley dice games. However, yeah-nah.
According to a recent study, there are over 3 million Australians living below the poverty line – that’s 13.3% of the population – with 731,000 of these people are children, a 2% increase in the past decade. These people – without a doubt – rely on and need these welfare payments to simply survive each day.
So, what is the Libs’ answer to this? To cut welfare payments so that the “welfare mentality” of these people will end. The idea, of course, is to encourage these people to go and find work. After all, in the world of Joe Hockey, all they need to do is go out and get a better job that pays more.
However, the greys of Hockey do not match the black and white of the statistics, with those purported fatter paycheques on the wane:
That aside, the proposed cuts would lead to stripping a further $60 a week from single-parent families. Because why not? Those families don’t have it hard enough. And if the single parent can’t get a job that firmly lands their family in the upper-middle class, then they shouldn’t have had children, right?
There are people who desperately need support – whether from Centrelink welfare payments to supplement or provide an income, or from disability payments, and it’s not like they’re easy to get, particularly the latter.
I have a friend who hurt himself and has been unable to work for over two months. His wife is supporting them both. This is putting a lot of stress on them, because a single paycheque with a mortgage isn’t exactly easy. This couple fits the mould of housing stress but despite that, she officially earns “too much” for him to receive any kind of supplemented government income. This dithering on the semantic differences of what constitutes poverty is a subjective waffle that does nothing more than embolden the creation of statistics, and problems that ride in with it.
The removal of welfare will do little else but push people further into uncertainty and likely force them out onto the street. Sure, the welfare numbers will go down, but the homelessness numbers will rise. It won’t solve any problems, just move the figures around the board, ostensibly relocating the pain, popping an official band-aid on a seeping wound.
Are we so cold as a nation that we’ll happily sit back and watch as the most vulnerable people in our society pay a hefty price because the rich think that they’re “too lazy to work” or just “not trying hard enough”?
I sincerely hope not.