Invest in people not the military

July 15, 2020
The Raise the Rate For Good campaign has been kicked off by the Australian Council of Social Service.

By June, the total spent on coronavirus subsidies (including corporate subsidies) by the federal government was $133 billion.

That might seem like a lot of money but, at the end of the month, it had no hesitation in announcing it would be spending more than double that — $270 billion — on the military.

There are many better ways that money could be spent: we should be investing in people and the environment, not corporations and the military.

After years — decades actually — of refusing to increase the miserable rate of Newstart, the Scott Morrison government doubled the rate, and renamed it JobSeeker.

The doubling was via a temporary bonus, which will finish in September.

The total cost was only $14 billion. This is a lot of money. But small biscuits, as we see, compared with corporate subsidies and spending on “defence”.

Nevertheless, the government always wants to make us feel like it is an extraordinary effort to come up with the funds for social welfare payments. The Financial Review, speaking on its behalf, said in May that JobSeeker and JobKeeper put the government at “breaking point”.

What a lie!

More than 830,000 people lost work in April and May, yet the job vacancies in May were only 129,000 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

As the coronavirus recession continues, there is no way the government could sustain — politically — a return to the old starvation rate of Newstart, when people routinely skipped meals and heating their homes.

Even Treasurer Josh Frydenberg admitted on July 13 that the “effective” unemployment rate is closer to 13.3% rather than the official unemployment rate of 7.1%.

He has said that income support, in some form, would continue past September, although he has hastened to add that it will be “targeted” and “temporary”.

This is all part of the process of buttering us up to accept less than we deserve.

All the while, there has been virtually no scrutiny from Labor or Liberal MPs on the $270 billion extravaganza being spent on the military.

And not just the politicians. The corporate media lies by omission. Even the “trusted” ABC reported it as “defence” spending when, really, it is an expansion of Australia’s offensive military capacity. It was described as “countering the rise of China” without, in any way, examining the hypocrisy involved in the histrionic scare campaign against China. And the ABC uncritically reported the government’s claim that the country faces threats in the “Indo-Pacific region”, when undeniably the most significant threat Australia faces is from climate change.

The spending increase will undermine, not improve, our security — both militarily and in relation to climate change. In relation to the latter, it will directly increase carbon emissions while also robbing the budget of the resources needed to tackle the problem.

Instead, what we need is a people’s movement strong enough to force public resources to be directed towards public welfare: jobs, housing, education, income support and climate action. A media that tells the truth and holds politicians to account would help that along.

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