Alan Tudge is Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
No, I’ve no idea what that entails either; “Take a letter, Alan“, perhaps the Prime Minister says when he needs to dictate some written correspondence. “No calls for the next hour, erm, well at least ten minutes“, maybe, as the Australian Monica Lewinsky sashays into his office?
Two of the responsibilities on his job description include introducing new legislation to the Federal Parliament and boasting about it in the press.
Here’s an example of him achieving this quarter’s KPI in that regard. The article originally appeared in The Australian today. By the way, enjoy the hubris of the headline on his website, “Solution to grog on the cards”. When you read on you’ll realise it’s a pun but, still, a bit of excess chutzpah there, one feels.
The proposal is that benefits will be paid in the form of a stored value card similar to the ones us city-dwellers use to travel on trains and buses.
That’s quite an investment, if the bill gets passed; there are millions of people who receive government benefits every week and month, Chez TNA included thanks to our hobby of having children. It’s going to be very expensive to issue us with a card to pay our childcare rebates rather than the current efficient situation of paying it through a bank transfer.
Oh, hang on; it doesn’t apply to us. Nope, it’s another one of those racially-specific laws that the Constitution allows for.
Alan doesn’t come out and say that it’s legislation written by racial type, but if he did I doubt many people would raise an eyebrow. Instead, he frames it as a concept to be trialed in “two or three regions”. Don’t bet your mortgage payment on Balmain or Mosman being among those trial areas, of course.
The point of the card is to further control what the money is being spent on. No booze, large orders of yeast extract product or online betting accounts, for example. To be fair, as this money is a gift from the taxpayer, perhaps there should be some controls on what it is spent on.
Wind back a moment, however. In his column in The Australian, Alan describes the consequences of benefits money being poured into booze, drugs and gambling; “destroying the lives of women and children…. not uncommon for kids to go hungry because there is no food in the table” despite disposable family incomes of up to $800 per week being received from the public purse.
Let’s spell out what he is saying; you and I are paying money to fund domestic violence and childhood malnutrition in a modern western democracy.
Take it a step further; imagine a situation where yours truly was knocking my sainted bride, Charlie, around on a regular basis and our various offspring were going hungry due to our addictions and profligacy. What would be the response from the relevant authorities, do you think?
Does anyone doubt that it would be prison time for me and that the kids would put into state care? Somewhat less likely is the possibility that the local Liquorland would be shut down and Coles staff instructed not to sell me Vegemite.
This organ keeps banging on about the fact that we’ve already got plenty of legislation to cover pretty much any aspect of modern life which we feel is in need of remediation. Passing yet another law with the intended outcome of stopping blokes slapping their women around of an evening is simply not required. We’ve got several already and they are very-well enforced in the neighbourhoods you and I live in. If you’re in any doubt, ask your spouse to participate in some loud role-play fighting tonight and measure the response time of the cops to the anonymous phone call(s) from the neighbours.
I’m conscious that this topic of the complete fudge and denial on the part of the Australian political and media classes to confront the apartheid which is being reinforced with every special law and intervention is beginning to become a bit of an obsession on this organ.
No apologies I’m afraid; I was proud to be on the anti-Aparthied marches in the 80s and 90s and I see no difference between the two situations other than that the Australian version is wrapped up in a shiny new coat of good intentions.
So if Australia is in denial, what is she in denial of? Try these statements out for size;
- It is incompatible with a modern western democracy to have children (forget the adults; they can make a choice) being born and raised in third world conditions and suffering a significantly higher mortality rate simply for “cultural reasons“.
- Even if that incompatibility was somehow acceptable, the critical positive components of community and self-sufficiency of these cultures are long extinct and what remains is little more than a tragic echo.
- The critical mass of population no longer exists but unlike the last inhabitants of the island of St. Kilda, the remaining few haven’t realised it yet. Those final St. Kilda residents knew that when the last midwife died, it was time to leave. Ask their many descendents living healthy lives and not subsistence living collecting bird eggs from cliffs whether it was the best decision or not.
- Historical guilt is preventing definitive action.
As a commenter on a previous post pointed out, if Spain had colonised Australia, the Aboriginal problems would not exist today. For whatever reason, be it a latent sense of humanity or plain inefficiency, the British didn’t completely wipe out the local population.
Perhaps what they did (or, more accurately, didn’t do) was far worse. By not applying the laws, rights and responsibilities equally across all members of Australia, they consigned generations to the worst of both worlds. The old ways of living are no longer sustainable (and arguably never were, once the rest of the world advanced so rapidly around them) and the new ways are out of reach.
What then, might break the deadlock of being half pregnant for so many years?
Here’s a radical idea and one which might also solve the problem of people viewing Australia as being so attractive a destination that they are prepared to travel through half a dozen safe countries to board a leaky vessel and sail oceans for weeks to claim asylum;
Remove the benefits safety net. For everyone.
Sure, some sort of transition programme will be required, assistance with relocation, getting clean of addictions, finding employment, etc. but clearly signal the date from which the free money tap gets cut off and stop emoting about the fact that “it’s complicated“; it isn’t actually complicated, we’re just too bloody comfortable with paying for a problem to remain a long way out of view rather than addressing it in a consistent manner.
Taxpayer-subsidised day care centres in Mosman and grog shops in the Northern Territories alike will need to quickly review their business model as the easy money dries up.
And that’s not a bad thing.