Why the Paxtons were framed

Issue 

By Natasha Izatt

There has been a lot of media hype against the Paxton family. A bit of a response to the hype came from media monitors and probing journos, most notably in the form of Stuart Littlemore's critique of the media coverage on his TV show, Media Watch. Paul Barber, a journalist at the Melbourne radio station 3AW, attacked A Current Affair's treatment of the Paxtons and urged a public boycott. He was then sacked when Channel 9 withdrew $300,000 worth of advertising.

Much has been made of the Paxtons' refusal to work in an island paradise for supposedly trivial reasons. South Molle Island is 3000 km away from their family and friends. Perhaps they didn't dare voice this reason or perhaps it was cut from the recording.

I know someone who did make the move from Brisbane to Melbourne, leaving partner, friends and relatives, for the sake of a full-time, fully paid, permanent position. This had a very negative effect on their emotional well-being, which then impacts on the physical state, and should not be recommended to anyone. John Howard won't even move from Sydney to Canberra for his new job.

The media are promoting the idea that people should be made to cut their hair, remove jewellery and be extremely servile to get positions. Perhaps we are heading back to a Victorian master-servant relationship, with the masters dictating the dress, manner, morals and lifestyles of those who serve.

Much was also made of the sleeping habits of the Paxton family. I find this quite strange as it is not anyone's business. However, if we are going to analyse it then it is probably symptomatic of illness.

The Paxton youths had been unemployed for a long period, at a time of low job and low life-fulfilment prospects for young people. It would hardly be surprising if they had some level of depression, the main physical symptom of which is fatigue.

Why has the Paxton story hit prime time television and newspaper headlines now? It seems very convenient at a time when politicians, both Liberal and ALP, are trying to dismantle as much of the welfare state as they can get away with.

The basic theory that the mainstream media are promoting, through the Paxton story, is that there are many "dole bludgers" who are not willing to work and that they should be forced to do so by cutting them off the dole, which is already well below the poverty line. This is complete nonsense and absolutely outrageous for the simple reason that the jobs are not there. I repeat, slowly: there ... are ... not ... enough ... jobs ... for ... those ... who ... want ... them.

Employers are not complaining about the lack of applicants for jobs. In fact, there is frequent footage on the news of hundreds of people lining up for hours to try to get work. Unemployment is not high because people on the dole aren't motivated and pro-active enough. Unemployment levels are high because federal and state governments have slashed tens of thousands of public service jobs, and private industry has layed off thousands of workers just when the profits are booming.

There needs to be a massive injection of public funds into health, education, public transport, other public works and into cleaning up the environment. This would be a positive step towards full employment.

These jobs should also be fully paid. Both major parties are promoting the idea of jobs on "training" wages well below award rates. These are not real jobs on living wages with security and career possibilities, which young people deserve. What is needed is an end to the vicious "blame the victim" ideology of the Paxton saga.