It is the end of the “age of entitlement”, we have been told by the federal Coalition government. But now they have brought back feudal titles.
Not content with making the poor poorer and the filthy rich even richer, they want to rub our noses in their class privilege. They add insult to injury, just in case we didn't already know who was running the country.
The born-to-rule mob are in government and seem to be shamelessly flaunting that fact. Hopefully, this insult adds to the growing movement against the Tony Abbott government's attacks that revealed itself in the 100,000 plus turn-out to March in March.
Meanwhile, the attack on the poorest continues unabated.
The annual minimum wage case before the Fair Work Commission — to decide what 1.5 million of Australia’s lowest paid workers are paid — has begun. The ACTU has asked for a $27 a week rise to the minimum wage and the employers are screaming “too much”.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the biggest employer group, wants only an $8.50 a week increase. The Australian Hotels Association and Restaurant and Catering Australia (the bosses who are also screaming the loudest for the abolition of penalty rates) want no increase to the minimum wage.
If the bosses get their way, the poorest workers will fall even further behind. Already, the minimum wage is just 43.3% of average full-time wages — the lowest proportion on record.
Workers on the minimum wage are struggling to pay just their rent and spiralling utility bills. A recently released report by the NSW Council of Social Service says low income households are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
It found: Low income households spend a greater proportion of their weekly budget on core commodities, such as housing and utilities, which have had big cost increases relative to CPI over the past 10 years. Education and health care have also had rapid price rises.
It also said prices over the past 10 years (including rents and new dwelling purchases but not mortgage repayments) have risen at twice the rate of inflation. With home purchases out of reach and public housing a dwindling commodity, many low-income households in NSW have no alternative but to rent – and nearly half are estimated to be in rental stress
The cost of utilities — water and sewerage, electricity and gas — has also risen sharply over the past 10 years — 4.4 times the rate of CPI. One in five households in the poorest 20% report being unable to pay their bills on time. The number of households being disconnected has increased by 37% in the past five years.
Lastly, about 8.1% of people from the most disadvantaged areas put off seeing a GP due to cost, compared with 5.8% of people from the most advantaged areas. Almost one-third of people from disadvantaged areas (28.8%) delayed or did not see a dentist due to cost, and 13.2% experienced financial barriers to accessing medical specialists.
Meanwhile, the multibillion-dollar public subsidies to big mining companies — including the toxic coal mining companies — continue unchecked.
Indeed, the corporate rich always have their hands out for more.
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