Social services minister Kevin Andrews says that welfare is becoming “unsustainable”. Yet billion of dollars in federal handouts continue to go to do-nothing rich snobs.
For one thing, private schools including campuses like Geelong Grammar, which boasts of its students being able to bring their horses to school thanks to the indoor equestrian centre, are being given millions.
The Productivity Commission’s Report on government services, released in January, shows that federal funding of private schools has increased 3.4 percent per year over the last five years. Public school funding has increased only 2.4 percent a year.
The report shows that, when all funding is taken into consideration, private schools receive on average $1.2 million a year more than public schools.
The working class is concentrated in public schools. There is also a much larger concentration of students from poor, migrant and Indigenous backgrounds. The current system of handouts to elite schools reproduces the inequality that exists in society, rewarding the privileged and ignoring those in need. The message of this two-tiered system is, “If you can’t afford a decent education, then you don’t deserve to get one.”
Largesse to the little darlings is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Commission’s figures also show how much direct assistance goes to the bosses: more than $1 billion to the water, electricity, gas and waste services industry; close to $1 billion to finance and insurance companies; and more than half a billion to the property, professional services and administration firms.
What about the mining barons? The Australia Institute estimates more than $4 billion is gifted to companies every year. And, as Tom Bramble previously wrote in Red Flag, “this figure doesn’t include the infrastructure that’s laid on for the industry, fringe benefit tax exemptions and, soon, the billions to be allocated for Abbott’s useless ‘Emissions Reduction Fund’.”
This in the middle of the biggest boom since the 1850s Gold Rush – so don’t say no one’s getting fat off the land down under. No, it’s a bonanza all right. And you’ve got to be filthy rich to get a piece of the action.
Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson in 2012 told us all about superannuation tax concessions, which actually distribute wealth from the poor to the rich:
“Tax revenue foregone on superannuation ($31.8 billion) compares with $30 billion forgone on housing tax concessions such as capital gains tax and negative gearing. By 2015-16, projected concessions will rise $44.8 billion foregone.”
The list of tax breaks, handouts and preferential treatment for rich individuals and their companies goes on and on and on. Astoundingly, the beneficiaries actually believe they are hard done by. The Per Capita Tax Survey 2012 found that many in the richest 5 percent of Australian households “believe that they are not in fact wealthy”. The majority think that they pay too much tax.
Forgive me for not taking seriously Joe Hockey’s mantra that “the age of entitlement is over”.
As another Invasion Day approaches, the gap between public support for Indigenous rights and the endurance of racist oppression is striking. Just take the Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory. In 2016, the ABC’s Four Corners broadcast an exposé of the brutality inflicted upon the overwhelmingly Aboriginal youth locked up there. The public outrage that followed the program pressured the federal government into establishing a royal commission into youth detention in the NT, which concluded in 2017.
In January 1788, the eleven ships of the First Fleet made landing at what was later named Sydney Cove in New South Wales. The ships carried 1,373 people from Britain, around half of whom were convicts, to form the basis for the first colony in Australia.
“The Black Power movement shook the world; it certainly shook the roots of this country.”
Prisoners inside Western Australia’s only youth detention centre, Banksia Hill, heralded the new year with an act of resistance—burning a building to the ground and climbing to the top of the prison’s perimeter fence. A look into the daily conditions faced by these young people, many of them Indigenous, shows why they would want to fight back against this horrendous institution.
For 350 years, Dutch colonialism oversaw a system of brutal exploitation and repression in Indonesia. But in 1945, a mass movement defeated the colonial regime, despite the imprisonment, torture and execution of thousands of independence activists.
After fourteen years, the Melbourne public transport ticket system, Myki, is being replaced. Most of us won’t miss it. Myki’s successor is unlikely to offer any real improvement to the severe inadequacies of public transport in Victoria. But looking back at the confusing and costly Myki system in its dying days is yet another reminder of just how illogical and wasteful capitalism is.