Home > Oz Politics > Could Jenny Macklin live on the dole?

Could Jenny Macklin live on the dole?

January 1st, 2013

She says “I could”, but you watch the video, Jenny Macklin’s answer here is very odd. She ducks the question once, has it put again, and is asked “Could you live on the dole”. She says “I could”, without any elaboration then goes straight back to spin. Her office then tries to delete it from the transcript.

It’s such a spectacular screwup, I think she must have imagined she was saying something different. But, whether or not that’s right, she, and the government, deserve all the pain they get for this piece of nastiness.

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Katz
    January 2nd, 2013 at 13:13 | #1

    Can you point to a time when Australia enjoyed full employment?

    We don’t have starvation for many reasons, one of which is that libertarian nostrums have never become policy.

  2. John Brookes
    January 2nd, 2013 at 13:27 | #2

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    Lusher was quite brave to do this. No such mistake would be made by any of todays pollies (other than the Greens). Lusher, if I remember rightly, did learn from the experience.

  3. Fran Barlow
    January 2nd, 2013 at 13:45 | #3

    @John Brookes

    Lusher was quite brave to do this. No such mistake would be made by any of todays pollies (other than the Greens).

    The important difference being that Rachel Siewert was attempting to show that one could not survive with dignity on “the dole” whereas Lusher had been trying to prove that you could — and indeed, that you could live in luxury. Lusher reportedly learned from his mistake whereas Siewert affirmed her view.

  4. Katz
    January 2nd, 2013 at 13:48 | #4

    Yes, we all learned that Lusher was an ignorant dolt before this stunt.

    After the stunt he was simply a dolt.

  5. Chris Warren
    January 2nd, 2013 at 13:54 | #5

    Of course not. Can you point to any data showing that Australians are starving?

    TerjeP really has no idea. 5% of Australians suffer “food insecurity” – 2011 data.

    http://www.aifs.gov.au/cafca/pubs/sheets/ps/ps9.html

    With all the strikeforce jet fighters and ugly submarines we waste billions on, why should anyone go hungry?

  6. Fran Barlow
    January 2nd, 2013 at 14:01 | #6

    @Chris Warren

    With all the {…} ugly submarines we waste billions on, why should anyone go hungry?

    Perhaps if the subs could be painted yellow they could be used as housing. Apparently they rarely go out, and I’ve heard there’s a song about such a policy.

  7. Happy Heyoka
    January 2nd, 2013 at 14:04 | #7

    @Chris Warren
    I guess we can add Adam Bandt to the list of bimbos; if they want to be taken seriously then let them try it for a year.
    (It’s a great link btw; well worth reading the whole page… Fiona Coote, Reagan in China, wow)

  8. Geoff Andrews
    January 2nd, 2013 at 14:34 | #8

    Katz, if you accept Iconoclast’s concept that “full employment” includes a 2% “friction” component, there was a time in the 1950′s, I think, when we had unemployment as low as 2%. I can remember that the informed opinion of the time was that it may be preferable to have a slightly larger figure, presumably to stop the workers getting ideas above their station. Can’t verify this memory with google-facts but then you can’t verify your quite objective assertion that Lusher was a dolt.

  9. TerjeP
    January 2nd, 2013 at 15:19 | #9

    Chris – Surely you are not so stupid as to suggest that 5% of Australians are starving? I hope not. But you want to whack me over the head with some data so you go and choose a different metric. Nice tactic.

    I don’t have the exact figure but there are something like half a million Australians on the dole. Apparently they will all be dead soon according to some of the more silly perspectives being expressed here.

  10. Katz
    January 2nd, 2013 at 16:33 | #10

    Ah yes, the 1950s.

    That was the full flood tide of the Menzian consensus. Menzies accepted the political economy established by Curtin and Chifley and Australian industry cringed behind massive tariff walls.

    Full employment and the antithesis of libertarian political economy. LOL.

  11. alex dante
    January 2nd, 2013 at 16:34 | #11

    TerjeP :
    Chris – Surely you are not so stupid as to suggest that 5% of Australians are starving? I hope not.

    No, stupid would be trying to frame “food insecurity” as “starving”, when the data linked to provided a very clear definition of what is meant by it.

    I don’t have the exact figure

    I’d hope not, you wouldn’t want to “whack” us “over the head with some data”, would you? Not when you can resort to unsubstantiated claims and straw man arguments.

  12. Ikonoclast
    January 2nd, 2013 at 16:37 | #12

    @TerjeP

    I think we can all agree that 500,000 unemployed Australians is a sign of failure somewhere and perhaps everywhere. As was said above by another blogger; “There’s lot’s of work to be done around the country…”.

    Logically, given adequate material resources and a basically peaceful and orderly society, there are only two basic possibilities for the cause(s) and unemployment. It’s perfectly possible for both causes to be true at the same time.

    The possibilities are (1) systemic (political-economic) failure and (2) personal failure. Both are clearly occurring at the same time. Let us ask ourselves these questions. Is our system perfect in every way? No, of course not, therefore there must be some degree of systemic failure. Are all humans motivated and hard working? No, some humans are de-motivated and lazy. Let us not judge the reasons why they are so or assign blame (as endogenous or exogenous causes). Just accept the fact without judgement.

    Given that both systemic and personal failure occur then we must work on both problems. It’s no good being black and white or “either-or” in our thinking. People seem to want to argue it’s exclusively one cause or the other when it’s both.

    To work on both problems takes concerted social and political action. It takes such action (social and political) to implement macroeconomic reforms to address unemployment and it takes such action (social and political) to address and assist individual de-motivation, de-moralisation and laziness.

    At the heart of it is the problem that the rich oligarchs like high-ish unemployment. It simplifies labour and staff management issues for them, acts to depress wages and returns the oligarchs more profits (and power).

    Quite simply, a decision has to be made to implement full employment policies via public employment to utilise all those not employed by private enterprise. Wages and the wage share of the economy need to be lifted and profits need to be dropped. The economy needs to become more equitable. Both demand side and supply side labour policy need to be pursued simultaneously. Create the jobs, train the people to fill them and make people feel wanted and useful. Kindness and well-directed help have always achieved more than oppression, coercion, cruelty, and abandonment.

  13. Sam
    January 2nd, 2013 at 17:33 | #13

    @Ikonoclast
    Should the government be an employer of last resort?

  14. January 2nd, 2013 at 17:41 | #14

    As others have noted, the real problem in living on the dole is rent. I was on unemployment benefits for a period while living at my parents’ place. While I was paying for a lot of things myself, without needing to cover rent the amount was enough to live on – and indeed would have been even if I had not had some part time work through this.

    Having got a job and moved out I went through a subsequent period on benefits and this time it was certainly not possible to live on what I was getting (even though the amount of part time work had increased in the meantime). I was only able to survive by running down my savings from the job I’d had in between.

    Consequently, I have always thought the higher priority was to boost rent assistance, than increase Newstart per se. Besides those living with family there are probably some who find it easy to manage in areas where rent is cheap – extra money should be targeted at those most in need, which usually relates to rent.

    On both occasions however, it was a brutally humiliating experience, and frankly I wouldn’t be here to write about it were it not for the lack of a weapon I considered suitable for removing the problem and the realisation of what that would do to my parents if I went through with it. I am not aware of the statistics on suicide rates amongst those on unemployment benefits, but would say that while many people manage to live on the dole, there is a minority who don’t, although that has as much to do with the way the unemployed are treated as the actual level of the payment.

    More detail here for anyone interested http://forensicsfossilsfruitbats.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/my-life-on-newstart-just-a-hint-of-science/

  15. Ikonoclast
    January 2nd, 2013 at 19:14 | #15

    Sam :
    @Ikonoclast
    Should the government be an employer of last resort?

    Yes.

  16. taxpayer
    January 2nd, 2013 at 20:06 | #16

    Why should Australian people get up early of a morning and work hard to pay for bludgers who want to lay about or go to the beach. The dole should be stopped. There is plenty of work for those who want it.

  17. Chris Warren
    January 2nd, 2013 at 20:26 | #17

    The bludgers on the beach are hardworking nurses enjoying their rostered day off, garbage truck employees getting ready for their shift, plus a few middle class toffs, waiting for their next cheque to arrive in their bank account.

    You will find the bludgers in the cocktail bars overlooking the beaches.

  18. Robert (not from UK)
    January 2nd, 2013 at 20:43 | #18

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy

    ” I wonder if John Maynes still has enough Rerum Novarum juice left in him to reflect that Philip Bain, whatever his past sins, would have brought more Christian social commitment to politics and policy than Macklin has been able to.”

    John Maynes is no longer with us, I’m afraid. He died in 2009 (and had, as is fairly well known, broken with the NCC during the early 1980s):

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/grouper-who-defined-an-era-20090821-etvi.html?skin=text-only

  19. Abhoth the Unclean
    January 2nd, 2013 at 21:01 | #19

    The real problem here is that Macklin’s minders recorded the reply as inaudible. this makes me angry! Not only is she stupid enough to engage at this level she thinks we are so stupid as to believe this transcript.

  20. Fran Barlow
    January 2nd, 2013 at 21:02 | #20

    @taxpayer

    You presume facts not in evidence. Also, work is done for recompense not for altruistic reasons, so even allowing for the sake of argument that some welfare recipients are indolent but notionally employable and likely to find work if they were not indolent, the moral plea is bogus.

    They too could choose not to work, and have the life of a welfare recipient. They choose not to. Why is that, do you suppose, “taxpayer”?

  21. TerjeP
    January 2nd, 2013 at 21:36 | #21

    Ikonoclast – I agree with pretty much everything in your latest comment except perhaps the bit about increasing public sector employment as a means to achieving full employment. However other than that I think you framed the problem rather neatly.

  22. Mikey Puttock
    January 3rd, 2013 at 02:26 | #22

    I think that if we have a world first & make our politicians the first to actually be low income earners, then maybe something might just get done to run this country properly. Further more, if our government was to be the first to become recipients of the dole or government handouts, this would put an end to them being able to give themselves stupid pay rises for an unrealistic performance that they put in & their rises would be in line with the CPI.

    I welcome Jenny Macklin’s, suggestion that she could live on a government handout & I suggest that they start this immediately starting with herself & Juliar Gillard with the rest of those Labor idiots to follow suite and offer some of the real low income earners a chance to live like Government officials and get their salaries & perks that the likes of Juliar Gillard & Jenny Macklin are entitled too.

    I know that this WILL NEVER happen, so our politicians need to keep their traps shut cos I for one would like to hold them to everything that they say ON THE PUBLIC RECORD!

  23. Geoff Andrews
    January 3rd, 2013 at 02:31 | #23

    @Katz
    Not sure what your lolling about, Katz.

    If you’re inferring that unemployment was not (say) 2%, I readily concede that my memory of the time could be flawed. Intuitively, one could think otherwise: we had to find employment for soldiers returning from the war and large numbers of migrants (many of whom were enemies less than 10 years before – we were much more generous spirited then).
    Countering this, there was a massive housing shortage requiring labour, the Snowy Scheme was in full swing (nobody seemed concerned that we were burdening the children of the future with debt like we’re doing with the NBN) and married women, particularly those with children, tended not to seek paid employment.

    I know that youth unemployment was unheard of. Even during school holidays there were temporary jobs available for kids lucky enough to go on to high school.

    We owned our own airline, bank, telephone network, postal service and probably the water & electricity supply systems. And we had control of the price of our pound or dollar.

    We apparently had a vibrant manufacturing industry. Only 10 years previously we were making our own aeroplanes and small arms; we not only assembled cars, we built them from the ground up; Brisbane alone had two companies manufacturing bicycles; not only did we grow wool, which we were selling overseas at about $100/kilo in today’s prices (a bit like our modern day mining boom, eh?), we (gasp) manufactured clothes and blankets with it.
    All gone, why? In the name of “international competitiveness” “economic efficiency”?

    Perhaps the reason why manufacturers were “cringing behind massive tariff walls” was the relatively good wages paid to the employed-soon-to-be-unemployed.
    Perhaps you or John could do a quick cost/benefit analysis for an old curmudgeon on the effect of withdrawing or reducing tariffs.

  24. J-D
    January 3rd, 2013 at 05:42 | #24

    @Fran Barlow
    By that logic, Jenny Macklin would get even more points from you if she answered questions by saying something like, ‘I have no good answer because I am nothing but a tool of a system designed to support and protect the interests of the boss class and oppress and immiserate workers and other people marginalised by the system. For too long I have struggled to hide the truth. I confess my sins and repent. I will abandon my place in the system immediately and join Fran Barlow and her comrades in their struggle to encourage the working class to press its claims for justice.’

    Maybe this is just the way my mind works, but it would interest me to know why, f you were going to respond to the question with a fantasy, you stopped short of the sort of fantasy I just outlined.

    Setting aside fantasy, my realistic point was not that you should serve Jenny Macklin’s interests–I don’t expect you to do that–but that it’s realistic to suppose that Jenny Macklin will try to serve her own interests, as she imagines them to be, as everybody does that to some extent. Yet it seems that what she did say is unlikely to serve even her own interests well and–again I suppose this may be just the way my mind works–I can’t help wondering what response on her part would have worked better specifically from her own point of view.

  25. Ikonoclast
    January 3rd, 2013 at 06:08 | #25

    @Geoff Andrews

    You list all the things I remember before “economic rationalism” so-called. In the 60s we had;

    1. Keynesian-Coombsian* economics. (*Nugget Coombs)
    2. 2% frictional unemployment
    3. The Commonwealth Bank publicly owned.
    4. QANTAS publicly owned.
    5. TAA publicly owned and ANA privately owned (a regulated domestic airline duopoly in a country small in population and large in size was arguably the most efficient approach.)
    6. PMG (Post Master General) publicly owned.
    7. The Wool Board (A regulated government monopsony which kept wool prices high. Good for Australia but maybe not for the world.)
    8. High Tariffs (enabling high-wage manufacture).
    9. Free Tertiary education.
    10. Excellent public schools.
    11. CSL (Commonwealth Serum Laboratories) was publicly owned.
    12. CSIRO did excellent work and assisted govt. and the private sector.

    I could go on. Life wasn’t perfect though. Sexism was rife. Women were required to resign from teaching in Qld (in the early 1950s) as soon as they married. Women in general were discriminated against everwhere in work life and public life. Indigenous people were treated far worse. I won’t list the abuses here. Most indigenous people effectively had no Federal vote until the referendum in 1967. Many teenagers left school at 15 (and probably at 13 in the 1950s). And those servile Liberals went all the way with LBJ (into the Vietnam war). Whitlam’s election saved me from concscription and possibly ‘Nam. My rather eccentric father, bless him, was ready (preparations made) to hide me in N.Q. if I was called up.

    However, getting back to the point. Public monopolies, regulated duopolies, regional monopolies (Milk Boards, co-operatives etc.), monopsonies, high tariffs and so on worked well for Australia at that phase of its (and the world’s) development.

    I don’t argue that all of those aspects should have been retained. However, some certainly should have been. The following should been kept publicly owned as they are of national strategic value and/or are natural monopolies.

    1. Commonwealth Bank.
    2. QANTAS.
    3. Post and Communications.
    4. Railways.
    5. CSL.

    We had to float the dollar. That was unavoidable and a net benefit. Tariffs should have been looked at in a more discriminating fashion and adjusted on a case by case basis. Certainly today I would argue for a carbon tax domestically and a carbon tariff on all imported goods which pay no carbon tax or an inadequate one in their country of origin.

  26. TerjeP
    January 3rd, 2013 at 06:20 | #26

    No, stupid would be trying to frame “food insecurity” as “starving”, when the data linked to provided a very clear definition of what is meant by it.

    Alex – I don’t think you followed the discussion very carefully. However for the record I agree it would be stupid to try and frame “food insecurity” as “starving”. I don’t know why Chris attempted to do so.

  27. Ikonoclast
    January 3rd, 2013 at 06:23 | #27

    @J-D

    The point is that Labor’s and Macklin’s (as she is the Minister) policy towards the unemployed is cruel and unconscionable as well as being unwise and counter-productive.

    It now costs in todays dollars about $400,000 to $1 million to bring up and educate a child to age 18 (former number) and to keep them at home (studying etc.) till 24 (latter number).

    On pure economic grounds, consider this. A young adult human (viewed mechanistically) is an expensive piece of complex, self-actuationg machinery constructed (physically, cognitively and socially) with 18 to 24 years of expensive and time consuming inputs not all of which are costed economically. If you had a piece of machinary that valuable and potentially useful would you throw it away on a scrap heap or would you utilise it for a relatively small additional input and get the enormous outputs possible? If you want to look at the country as a business, why would create these expensive, intelligent, adroit and almost infinitely flexibly tasked “machines” and then throw them away? It’s the height of stupidity (and inhumanity) to do so.

  28. J-D
    January 3rd, 2013 at 06:24 | #28

    @TerjeP
    A footnote to the study published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies states that information on food security levels in Australia is limited, which would make it difficult to estimate with confidence how many people in Australia are ‘starving’ (whatever metric is used to define ‘starving’). The report is based on available information: that’s better than nothing. It cites sources (calling them ‘conservative estimates’) for a claim that ‘upwards of’ 5% of Australians experience food insecurity, 40% of those (which means ‘upwards of’ 2% of Australians) at a severe level.

    It’s true that doesn’t enable us to say how many people in Australia are ‘starving’ unless we define ‘starving’ to equate with the definition of ‘experiencing food insecurity at a severe level’. But how would you feel (hypothetically, if you like) about 2% of Australians experiencing food insecurity at a severe level even if that’s not the same as starving? It seems like a significant problem to me.

  29. Fran Barlow
    January 3rd, 2013 at 06:35 | #29

    @J-D

    I have no good answer because I am nothing but a tool of a system designed to support and protect the interests of the boss class

    Not bad … though perhaps a little functionalist in its description of the provenance of the system. I’m more with Ralph Miliband on the class character of the state.

    For too long I have struggled to hide the truth. I confess my sins and repent. I will abandon my place in the system immediately and join Fran Barlow and her comrades in their struggle to encourage the working class to press its claims for justice.

    Hmmm … sounds a little Catholic now, and I gave up on that sort of thing at about 14. Passing over sin and penitence she’d have to leave the ALP and the ministry — Hartley got punted for a lot less than that, and he wasn’t even an MP. For the record, if she did repudiate the ALP and its paradigm in favour of inclusive governance I would change my mind about her. I regard that as entirely improbable.

    it seems that what she did say is unlikely to serve even her own interests well and–again I suppose this may be just the way my mind works–I can’t help wondering what response on her part would have worked better specifically from her own point of view.

    This is a difficult one, because to answer it in your terms entails some quite arbitrary assumptions about what ‘her own interests’ truly are. I’d say the fundamental interests of all humans are in authentic community with its promise of insight and purpose — and both scarcity and inequity are corrosive of that. By logical inference, all humans who fail to make that struggle a key part of their engagement with politics are subverting their own interests. Of course — that is merely my assertion. It’s an expression of my politics rather than something I can prove. I accept that people decide for themselves what their interests are and how to weigh the banal withe the sublime, the immediate with the relatively temporally remote and so forth. That entails a paradox because if I believe they have misapprehended their interests “pursuing their interests” can mean mutually exclusive things.

    If one construes “her own interests” much more narrowly — what would best serve her desire to preserve and/or augment her existing privileges? — then I’m not sure there is a good answer. She is constrained by the paradigm of rule established by the regime that granted her these privileges. She is obliged to act against welfare recipients, and to defend such policies. Dissembling and outright lying or is indicated on the grounds of relative feasibility. It’s an overhead of “doing business” in the broad sense. She could try saying … “oh gosh, it would be tough living on NewStart but we are doing al we can to make that period as short as possible and thankfully, charities and the community will probably step in to fill the gap and minimise the suffering”. That would still cop blowback, and is dissembling, but it’s the lowest cost strategy, IMO.

  30. J-D
    January 3rd, 2013 at 06:50 | #30

    @Ikonoclast
    You have posted this as if it is in some way a response to what I posted.

    It is not in any way a response to what I posted, and if you think it is then I must have failed to communicate my meaning clearly.

    A question was posed about how Jenny Macklin might have answered the question that was put to her. Fran Barlow suggested something that (she said) Jenny Macklin might have said, and I was discussing Fran Barlow’s comment. The subject of that discussion was, therefore, not what policy Jenny Macklin (or the government, or any government) should implement, but rather what Jenny Macklin (or somebody in her position) should or might say.

    Is the distinction between ‘what could Jenny Macklin say?’ and ‘what could Jenny Macklin do?’ insufficiently clear?

    I understand the significance of your comment as a contribution to the discussion generally, but I don’t understand what made you tag it as a response to my comment.

  31. Katz
    January 3rd, 2013 at 07:02 | #31

    @Katz
    Not sure what your lolling about, Katz.
    If you’re inferring that unemployment was not (say) 2%…

    I wasn’t.

  32. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 3rd, 2013 at 07:32 | #32

    Once again, let’s not forget that the issue here is not just the dole and its inadequacies but the denial of parenting payment and associated benefits to single parents who are being forced onto the dole. As some of Macklin’s pig-ignorant comments have made clear, this policy seems to be based on a hackneyed sexist view of single mothers, what they are doing with their lives and what they should be doing with their lives, and the view that they need paternalistic micromanagement by government even when this is to the detriment of their own existing initiatives to engage with education and employment.

    Here is some more essential reading.

    http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/I-raised-there-men-on-that-scrapped-parenting-payment/

  33. dave
    January 3rd, 2013 at 08:16 | #33

    Actually living on the dole or its equivalent depends on how much you pay for the roof over your head as someone else has stated here. And Australian property prices which largely determine rents are pretty damn high so the property owning class are doing ok, but anyone who isn’t in that game is stuck on the treadmill. But with real estate prices being a substantial component of economic GDP and a basis for local taxes in the form of rates and stamp duty, governments are in bed with the forces that want prices to increase. In fact they are actively supporting the property ownership class with substantial tax breaks as Judith Yates notes for the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Is it hardly surprising that the dole also includes a rent assistance component, since government policy seems to favour a redistribution in wealth back to the property owners despite any human hardship. Still life wasn’t meant to be easy.

  34. J-D
    January 3rd, 2013 at 08:58 | #34

    @Fran Barlow
    Good answer.

    But I notice that you say that you regard as entirely improbable the idea of Jenny Macklin repudiating the ALP and its paradigm. I agree. It is entirely improbable.

    However, the idea of Jenny Macklin giving the kind of answer you suggested earlier is also entirely improbable. So when you suggested that kind of answer (in response to the question that was posed about what else she could have said), you were obviously disregarding any constraints of probability. And yet, even while disregarding any constraints of probability, something else was evidently holding you back from offering a maximally idealistic answer. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help wondering what that was.

  35. Fran Barlow
    January 3rd, 2013 at 09:24 | #35

    @J-D

    when you suggested that kind of answer (in response to the question that was posed about what else she could have said), you were obviously disregarding any constraints of probability.

    I probably should have said “could in theory”. My tongue was in my cheek of course.

    something else was evidently holding you back from offering a maximally idealistic answer.

    The desire for brevity, and the wish to avoid getting too “meta” for the question at hand.

  36. Fran Barlow
    January 3rd, 2013 at 09:28 | #36

    @J-D

    I suppose as well that my self-imposed constraint preserves about as much of Macklin-as-she-is as one can without opening a portal to an alternate universe, though to be fair, efven my whimsy does at least suggest a shadowy Narnia-like wardrobe with an indistinct back, perhaps leading to such a place. ;-)

  37. Will
    January 3rd, 2013 at 11:33 | #37

    taxpayer :
    Why should Australian people get up early of a morning and work hard to pay for bludgers who want to lay about or go to the beach. The dole should be stopped. There is plenty of work for those who want it.

    One day in 1915, the portly Prime Minister Billy Hughes was boarding a train when he was heckled by a bystander:

    “So Billy, what’s it going to be? A boy or a girl?”

    Said Billy, without a moment’s hesitation:

    “If it is a boy, I will name him George, after the king. If it is a girl, I will name her Victoria, after the queen. But if it is, as I strongly suspect, nothing but piss and wind, I will name it after you Sir.”

  38. Donald Oats
    January 3rd, 2013 at 11:41 | #38

    No.

    That is my answer to the question posed by Prof. Quiggin in the title of this blog post.

  39. Katz
    January 3rd, 2013 at 12:19 | #39

    @Will

    It was actually George Reid:

    http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/reid-sir-george-houstoun-8173

    (Still a funny retort, however.)

  40. Fran Barlow
    January 3rd, 2013 at 12:32 | #40

    @Will

    That remark is usually attributed to NSW Premier and Fourth PM George Reid, because the heckler was seeking to sledge Mr Reid for his ample paunch. Billy Hughes was a fairly thin man so the challenge would have made no sense.

  41. Geoff Andrews
    January 3rd, 2013 at 12:36 | #41

    @Ikonoclast
    Re your comment #22 above;
    I’d forgotten about the unbelievably stupid privatisation of the CSIRO and CSL. There is no vandal like the official vandal.

    Another social phenomenon that has disappeared is the religious divide: Catholics vs the rest. I had strict instructions from my mother not to bring home a Catholic girl

    The dumbing down of our complete education system over the last 25 years or so, from primary through to tertiary, does not bode well for our future.

    The children of the wealthy (or of Catholic parents) were well educated and, until the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme, filled all the University places. In Brisbane in 1950 there were 10 private high schools for boys and 7 private high schools for girls; while the State provided 2 co-educational high schools and one all boys and one all girls.

    Three public examinations at two year intervals ensured a level playing field when assessing each student’s ability. The abolition of these examinations, in my opinion, has had an extremely detrimental effect on education. They should be reintroduced, perhaps on a voluntary basis.

    Now I’m starting to sound like one of the four Yorkshire men.

  42. Ikonoclast
    January 3rd, 2013 at 12:47 | #42

    @J-D
    I was trying to get beyond personality politics and bring matters back to the substantive issue.

  43. TerjeP
    January 3rd, 2013 at 14:14 | #43

    It’s true that doesn’t enable us to say how many people in Australia are ‘starving’ unless we define ‘starving’ to equate with the definition of ‘experiencing food insecurity at a severe level’.

    So you agree it was reasonable for me to call into claim the suggestion that people are starving.

    But how would you feel (hypothetically, if you like) about 2% of Australians experiencing food insecurity at a severe level even if that’s not the same as starving? It seems like a significant problem to me.

    I would feel like it is a terrible situation. How else could anybody feel about it?

  44. TerjeP
    January 3rd, 2013 at 14:15 | #44

    “claim” should be “question”

  45. Peter
    January 6th, 2013 at 11:42 | #45

    Ikonoclast :
    @J-D

    It now costs in todays dollars about $400,000 to $1 million to bring up and educate a child to age 18 (former number) and to keep them at home (studying etc.) till 24 (latter number).

    This is silly. There is no way a child ‘costs’ $20,000 per year to raise. Not even half that.

  46. Ludwig
    January 6th, 2013 at 23:45 | #46

    @Katz
    Whilst I disagreed with many of Lusher’s views I would not describe him as a dolt. It was the group house that my girlfriend lived in that he took residence in to make his case. We (the residents, their friends and Ray Martin) spent quite a lot of time with him while he was there. He was genuinely surprised at the price of food. it turned out that his lifestyle and his family business did not expose him to these costs. He quickly realised that the people who advised him and shaped his opinions had misled him. He did learn from the experience and, aside from trying to change his party’s views, engaged in a number of activities to try to help the unemployed — including restructuring his business activities to provide more jobs. He came across as a reasonably intelligent and caring person who was misguided. Much like the majority of the electorate.

  47. Fran Barlow
    January 7th, 2013 at 07:01 | #47

    @Peter

    That figure includes income foregone as a consequence of parental duty. It is clear for example, that women (and sometimes men) who take leave to raise children rarely recover in income terms the position that those who don’t take such leave.

    I’m always a bit leary of counterfactual analysis, but in this case, there seems to be reasonably strong evidence for the correlation and a plausible case for putting this into the “costs of raising children” box.

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