Carlo's corner: Flexibility means 'how can we screw you from the most directions'

February 18, 2013
Is this the creepiest piece of political propaganda ever?

“Enough is enough,” warned a full page ad taken out by the Mineral Council of Australia in the February 13 Australian, “in relation to the obsession with increasing taxes on mining in Australia."

It was like an exasperated parent pushed too far by a naughty child. “Enough! Go back to playing with your toys. What about the welfare recipients? You love kicking them! Go on, leave us adults alone!”

And so, the masters having spoken, Labor's election campaign is sure to remain in safe, channels of mostly empty postures and rhetoric. For instance, Prime Minister Julia Gillard's much trumpeted reforms to improve “flexibility” for workers who are also carers.

Basically this amounts to allowing workers the right to ask their bosses for more flexibility in working hours. Bosses retain full rights to say no, but the key thing you can now ask, because Labor understands just how important it is to be able express you feelings.

It won't change much, but it did inspire the ad to the right, which must be a strong contender for the creepiest piece of political propaganda ever — or at least since Christopher Pyne last opened his mouth.

It must be said, looking at the above ad authorised by minister for families Jenny Macklin, that it appears Labor has simply given up.

Neither Gillard nor Macklin are even trying to kiss that baby! I know the Libs are well ahead in the polls, but surely they should make a bid for at least some votes.

At least it does have a message. About flexibility. For parents. To “balance work and family life”.

A noble goal indeed, and explains why Gillard and Macklin are forcing single parents to switch to the much lower Newstart allowance once their youngest child turns eight. Leaving parents up to $140 a fortnight worse off.

Speaking to last week's Green Left Weekly, Adelaide's Single Parent Action Group spokesperson Sherree Clay said: “Parents who are students [were] also cut from the Pensioner Education Supplement one month before the Newstart changes came into effect ... As a student I stand to lose $300 a fortnight when my youngest turns eight in May.”

But what if you have a job? Clay said: "Working parents must be working 35 hours a week. If they are not they are forced to either find a different job or take on a second job, they lose 40c to the dollar after earning $31 a week and the cut-off amount from Centrelink is ridiculously low.

“Regardless of how many children you have, there is no extra allowance to compensate this. It is all set for a single person rate.”

Clay explained exactly what this means for those affected parents looking for that badly sought after "balance of work and family life": "Many families who have been switched to Newstart have as little as $6 a week left after rent and power deductions to feed their children."

Flexibility. It is a word politicians use to describe their desire to screw you from as many directions as possible.

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