Poverty and welfare

When federal parliament reconvenes on February 5, the Coalition government’s first priority will be to pass two punitive bills which, if made into law, will make life even harder for those trying to get by on income support.

It would surprise the federal Coalition government — that assumes we dislike welfare recipients as much as it does — that one of its biggest problems at the start of the year is the Centrelink debt fiasco.

Over the past six months, 170,000 people received debt notices from Centrelink, with the number gradually rising to 20,000 a week.

By comparison, only 20,000 debt notices were issued for the whole of 2015.

In 2006, Alternet's Joshua Holland coined the “zombie lie”: an untruth that returns from the dead to haunt us, despite already being demolished by arguments and evidence.

Politics is dominated by zombie lies. “Asylum seekers are 'queue jumpers' arriving here illegally” is a classic example. Over the past few decades, zombie lies have helped legitimise paternalistic, punitive welfare reforms. They still shape debates about how to treat poor and unemployed Australians.

Housing action group City is Ours organised a protest outside housing minister Richard Wynne’s office on November 12, to highlight Melboune’s growing housing crisis.

City is Ours has also recently organised a public meeting and a protest against rooming house evictions outside Moreland Council’s offices.

In Mexico, a war involving rival drug gangs, law enforcement agencies and the national army has officially claimed 23,000 lives since 2006.

This figure does not include the many thousands of innocent people who have been “disappeared” by police and army units.

The violence can be directly attributed to the corrosive impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA was signed on January 1, 1994 between the United States, Canada and Mexico with the aim of removing trade and investment barriers between these nations.

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