Ian Higgins

Hushed Tones: Why I support Abbott’s DPS rhetoric

Approx Reading Time-11Tony Abbott’s comments on the DPS dragged groans out of the collected masses, but if you actually listened to what he said – it makes complete sense.

 


Defending Tony Abbott is something that is fraught with danger. In an age where immovable opinions and sweeping summations are made on the basis of a headline which aims to provoke emotion, and full articles are rarely read, we are increasingly becoming a people who steadfastly believe what they feel on first impulse. This is especially true when the information comes from a figure who we irrationally despise.

It’s been said before but even our most divisive public figures are allowed to be the voice of reason. Not everything Miranda Devine says is indelibly wrong; not everything Waleed Aly says is necessarily right. One of the many perks of western education is the emphasis that is placed on critical thought, however, if you ever read the Facebook comments on anything, not only would your faith in humanity be lost, but you might also come to the conclusion that balanced consideration is on its way out.

I, at times, think that Tony Abbott and some key figures in his then-Government are often the victims of this. Yesterday, Mr Abbott said that the Government was “far too ready to put people on the DSP , with bad backs, a bit of depression and so on.”

Cue the eruption. Read in the coldness of black and white print, with no context, these comments are admittedly startling. However, the crux of the former Prime Minister’s comments was that he was of the belief that Australia’s welfare system was being cheated by “white welfare villages”, and that some people in regional areas would rather be unemployed than work in jobs such as fruit picking and cleaning. The reason that they were choosing unemployment over working in such industries is because they were getting ongoing support from the welfare system for conditions that were not permanent, Mr Abbott asserted.

Thousands of people in our community are rightfully being awarded the DSP. They are the reason the system exists: some people need help, the rest of the community takes a small percentage of our wage and gives it to them so that we can all live in harmony.

He then went on to say that he appreciated that these professions may not be the ones that people would want to do forever, but if these jobs were available and they were physically able to work, they should be doing so rather than accepting government hand-outs.

In my mind, Tony Abbott was describing how being a member of society works. I’d say that the majority of people in any democratic society have, at one time or another, had to work a job that they didn’t particularly want or enjoy but had to because they needed to earn money to pay for things like food, shelter, smashed avo etc. In conclusion: If you can work, you shouldn’t be getting help from the Government.

Isn’t Mr Abbott therefore saying that people who don’t deserve disability pensions shouldn’t be getting them?

Could be have worded that better? Yes, he probably could have, especially as he must be aware that he is often the figure of derision even with a mention of his first name.

This feels similar to when Joe Hockey said that young people should “get a good job that pays good money”. In the interest of succinctness, the point here is that while that may have been a sentiment that could have been equally softened to Mr Abbott’s, isn’t that exactly what young people should be striving for? Education is accessible, hard work is do-able, choices are (often) readily make-able. If you’re a young person in Australia, the majority of you are able to achieve great things through hard work. Some people intrinsically can’t for a multitude of reasons, sure. But the majority can.


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I didn’t read anywhere where Tony Abbott said that people who were genuinely suffering from severe mental illness or debilitating physical injury should be cut off from the DSP.

I’ve never applied for the DSP, and I understand it can be an arduous process, but to so convincingly tell Tony Abbott that he is wrong, that people aren’t cheating the system, that they know more than him, is staggering. I do not have the figures, the research, the resources or the experience to know how accurate his claims are, but if I was being asked “do you think people are rorting the system to claim benefits on the DSP,” you can answer that for yourself.

There are thousands of people in our community that are rightfully being awarded the DSP. They are the reason the system exists: some people need help, the rest of the community takes a small percentage of our wage and gives it to them so that we can all live in harmony. That’s the essential principal. To suffer from mental illness is not something that I have personally experienced, but having seen it in others, I can only sympathise that it is an awful trauma to live with each day. Equally, the constant throbbing of pain from a physical injury that never truly goes away must be akin to Chinese water drip torture.

If I had to place a bet, I would advocate that the people who truly do suffer from these ailments would be the angriest out of anyone at the people who are in fact deceiving the system by “hamming-up” their infirmities to receive a share in the DSP.

Wouldn’t you be?

It just so happens, that while I was no fan of Mr Abbott’s reign as PM (which is irrelevant by the way), I do agree with his sentiments here. But the great thing about critical thought is that you’re allowed to disagree with me too.

 

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