Federal government welfare cuts will push an extra 330,000 Australians into poverty in the new year, bringing the total number of people impoverished since September to 1.16 million, according to one of Australia’s top economic policy analysts.
Ben Phillips, who works at the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods, called the cuts “a bit stingy”. In a letter to the editor published in Melbourne’s Age, Vince from Glenroy painted a more vivid picture—likening the government’s phased withdrawal of the coronavirus supplement to a medieval torture rack, which pulled on the sufferer’s joints excruciatingly slowly, snapping each of his ligaments with a loud pop before dislocating his limbs altogether.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an additional $100 cut to the supplement. This comes on top of the $300 slashed in September. The tapered down $150 payment—which has been extended until March 2021—reduces the income of a JobSeeker recipient to an unlivable $715 a fortnight.
The Coalition’s impatience to abandon Australia’s poorest in the middle of a crisis is repulsive. According to Phillips, the January reduction will dramatically elevate the poverty rate “well above” pre-pandemic levels. In March, the level of poverty will likely jump again.
Earlier modelling by the Australia Institute, a think tank, estimated that the coronavirus supplement lifted 425,000 people out of poverty when it was rolled out earlier in the year. A series of wage subsidies and welfare supplements kept approximately 2.2 million people afloat throughout the first few months of the crisis. The number of people living in poverty dropped by one-third.
While the programs may have appeared altruistic, the aim was not to reduce inequality, but to stabilise the economy for business. Now that the government is confident that it has achieved that goal, it is happy to throw people back into poverty.
Yet the government intervention annuls decades of excuses for keeping unemployment payments at poverty levels. It shows that the money can be found—it’s just a question of priorities.
It’s an absolute disgrace that sections of the working class will again be consigned to poverty and humiliation, while the wealth we produce lines the pockets of politicians and business executives. Rather than capitulating to the coalition’s cruel and unusual punishment, we must fight for permanent increases in welfare, a living wage for all, paid for by higher wealth taxes. We need a society that puts people before profit.
“Just because we’re young, it doesn’t mean we can’t have political opinions”, Ramona says. She’s a 14-year-old student at a Melbourne High School and one of the organisers of the school strike for Palestine on Thursday 23 November.
More than one-third of Australians experienced “moderate” to “severe” food insecurity in the last twelve months, according to a new study.
Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. The rich and powerful have their own political parties. We need ours. It’s the time to throw yourself into activity and join a revolutionary socialist organisation.
How do you present a “balanced” picture of genocide? Trainee journalists should think seriously about this question. Their future career will probably depend on it. You must be impartial and allow every point of view to be represented. So make sure you interview the major pro-genocide voices. Let them calmly explain why it’s good to kill oppressed civilians and steal their land. After all, you wouldn’t want your audience to think you’re biased against mass murder.
Melbourne’s high rise public housing towers are icons of the city’s skyline. Indelibly associated with the inner-city suburbs, they are the product of hard-fought battles between social reformers, residents’ associations and the sprawling bureaucracy of the Housing Commission of Victoria. Throughout their history, they have been both hated and loved, generating protests against their construction and then, once established, to defend them from demolition.
It is an indictment of Australian capitalism that, more than 230 years since the British Empire’s invasion of this continent and the consequent dispossession and widespread massacres of the original inhabitants, most Indigenous people remain confined to the very bottom of the social pile.