Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. All recommendations and opinions posted are my own and are not associated with any institutions I am affiliated with.
A deception regularly made to the Australian public is that our economy is ‘in crisis’. The lie that the budget; debt and deficit; and value of the dollar are all in dire straits is told to swing voters again and again. Near an election is where it is usually heard, but it can also be used when politicians are fresh out of ideas, or wishing to start a smear campaign against a rising popular public service (such as increasing funding to health).
Reducing the services available to the public and then creating the image that this is actually helping people is what keeps conservative parties alive today. Making people pay substantially more, thus widening the divide between rich and poor. When public services are slashed in a budget with a forecast to use the saved funds to ‘boost the economy’, the money never gets heard of again. Billions ripped out of hospitals and schools. Poor mum now has to spend $20 in parking just to visit grandma in the cancer ward, due to a multitude of privatisation measures that now means the hospital carpark is run by a company in China.
Simple flowery language masks the fact that you will have to pay more for essential services. Going to the doctor, getting medication, attending school at any level, it will all cost more. Where is this extra money going? To medical research? To improving education facilities such as destitute schools in regional areas? To improving rapidly aging infrastructure across the nation? Of course not. It disappears into the void and we don’t know where it went. The same people bleating about how taxes are too high are the people pocketing the extra money people are paying to receive lifesaving medication.
The terrible state of Australian aged care is also an argument that needs to be had. The fact that people are being forced to pay to visit their loved ones at the hospital is a national disgrace. The more public services available to people, the better, not worse off, a society is. The closure of Aboriginal communities (which just makes the mind boggle, how do a government OWN a people?); cutting off payments to programs such as safe schools and headspace, and other essential inclusion activities because one old world individual disagrees with it is a horrendous way to treat the Australian people. Pure capitalism assumes that everyone is already on an even level to begin with, and we all have the opportunity to make money and achieve a higher socio-economic bracket. This is rubbish and anyone who has been poor will tell you this. The poor have a marginalised position to begin with, and often have to work 3-4 times as many hours to achieve the same amount of money a more wealthy person can make in an hour. This is due to the current wage problem (see previous post, 7-11 and Grill’d are good examples) and a lack of transparency in exploiting foreign workers.
The reduction and constant overlooking of public services can be told in an easy way as simple as last night. The census. Malcolm Turnbull was #1 ticket holder for the NBN a few years ago, and now, it’s still in very limited areas and Australia’s internet is still terrible. The lack of public services on offer to help people without access to the internet or those having difficulties was appalling, and the threat of a fine was just salt in the wound of an already-confused population. Nick Xenophon’s boycott was something that Australia needed to hear in the wake of a very wasted night spent refreshing the browser, or clicking ‘complete my census’ over and over again.
This country’s class divide is getting bigger, not smaller, and unless we act now to start helping the poor in many different ways, it will be the same ‘dole bludger’ rhetoric trotted out until one of these disillusioned conservative governments finally cuts it right off.