Maybe Morrison should also try shouting 'how good are homes' at the homeless

August 8, 2019

When the Coalition unexpectedly won the May federal elections, it was tempting to assume no good would come of it. But that type of thinking ignores just how much money the gambling industry lost with the defeat of the odds-on favourite, Labor.

That's where the good news ends, though.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly followed up his victory by ramping up class war through big tax cuts to the rich, and Labor quickly followed by voting for it.

Morrison then followed by insisting the government could not afford to raise the rate Newstart, which is significantly lower than the $433 a week poverty line, and Labor followed by voting down a Greens' motion to raise the $277 a week payment by $75.

The refusal to raise Newstart came despite the heartwrenching advocacy by famed "Saint of the Poor" Barnaby Joyce, who managed to connect the issue with how hard he finds living on more than $200,000 a year.

Straight away, Centrelink offices the nation over were the scene of a very moving canned food drive to ensure Barnaby makes it through the winter without resorting to too much backyard slaughter.

But not even Barnaby "Bread For the Poor" Joyce could shift Morrison. Requests to raise the rate were rebuked with four simple words: "How good are jobs?"

It was an interesting response, seeing as data shows there is one job for every 15 jobseekers. But actually I'd like to see this logic applied more broadly.

Instead of a living Disability Support Pension, just go up and shout "how good are legs?" at paraplegics.

Don't bother paying the aged pension either, just go up and shout "how good are functioning knees?" at hungry old people in long queues for food kitchens.

And if you see a homeless person asking for change, try shouting "How good are homes?" at them.

In fact, now that I think of it, maybe we should try making the homeless pay rent for the footpath they sleep on so they get valuable rent-paying experience to prepare them for the rental market.

Of course, given their no-income status, it would be subsidised rent, in return for which they would be required to apply for 20 homes a fortnight.

And, as part of their mutual obligation schemes, the homeless would be made to work on building new homes for property investors or on extensions for those who've paid off their mortgage and are looking to expand.

They have to be expected to give something back for the state support they receive via subsided footpath rent, after all.

Failure to comply would result in fines, to be taken out of their rent subsidy. We can't just have people abusing their right to a publicly-subsided rented footpath.

We want a nation of doers not takes, of those who have a go to get a go.

Instead of raising Newstart, Morrison says his government's focus is on preventing suicide.

A cynic might say leaving people without enough money to live on could increase depression, but it does make sense. It's pretty hard to kill yourself if you can't afford gas, rope or a train ticket to well-known suicide hot spots. Which also explains Sydney Trains' timetabling strategy.

To his credit, Morrison is not simply saying "no". His government is filled with proactive ideas for the jobless.

For instance, it says it's committed to a plan to dock payments for welfare recipients for non-payment of fines.

The genius of this plan is its logical consistency. Want to get more money out of those who have almost none? Give them less!

It is so obvious and not in any way designed to cruelly punish the poor for being poor while simultaneously letting one third of large corporations pay zero tax and — while you're at it — also subsidising the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $29 billion to hasten the catastrophic collapse of human civilisation in an unprecedented ecoholocaust.

Morrison is also reviving plans to introduce drug testing for welfare recipients.

The problem here is not the evidence from sewage testing that illicit drug use is higher in richer suburbs, or that those on the dole can barely afford bread let alone serious narcotics, nor even that it is a gross violation of basic civil liberties.

The real issue is just basic humanity.

Seriously, read the accounts of those forced to deal with the cruel, bizarrely irrational world of private job agencies.

If anyone deserves the right to pull a few cones, it's any poor bastard who survives that dystopian nightmare.

God almighty, in the name of basic decency, if you aren't going to provide jobs or a living income, at the very least, let the unemployed punch a cone or two.

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