141 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Periodically, a tabloid television program in Australia runs a certain type of story about recipients of Newstart Allowance. The story centres on an interview with a young unemployed person/s in some stereotypically comfortable and/or bohemian location such as Nimbin or Byron Bay or the Gold Coast, in which the young unemployed person/s explains how they’re living the life of Riley on Newstart Allowance in this beautiful place, have been doing so for quite a long time, and how they’re not required and have never been required to do anything in order to get the allowance. This is followed by indignant editorialising by some purported expert on welfare policy, youth unemployment, or the like, and the announcement that the government is about to crack down on this sort of thing by tightening eligibility requirements, job search requirements, activity testing, Work For The Dole requirements, etc. One such story featured on A Current Affair on Wednesday night, immediately before the State of Origin broadcast.

    This sort of story is, I am convinced, almost always a concoction.

    It has never been the case in Australia, at any time in the past 40 years, that one could collect the Newstart Allowance or its predecessors without satisfying some kind of job search requirement or activity test and without regular interviews with the Federal Government agency administering the payment to give an account of what one was doing to find work. Further, it is simply not possible to live the life of Riley on Newstart Allowance in some of the places where these stories are set (check out housing and food costs in Byron Bay, for starters). And it is utterly implausible that any actual Newstart recipient who was on such a good wicket would brag about it on prime time tabloid television, knowing the sort of political and policy response that their comments would invite.

    There is something else that should alert long-time viewers of these programs that they’re being sold a pup. If you remember the segment on the young dole bludging hippies in Nimbin in the late 1990s, you would also remember the employment minister at the time announcing on the same program that the activity testing and job search requirements would immediately be toughened up to put an end to such alleged freeloading. That then should have led you to wonder why the young dole bludging surfies in Byron Bay were still able to get Newstart for doing nothing in the early Noughties, as they boasted on the same program or one of its equivalents at that time. Then, considering the resulting announcement of further “tough love” from the then employment minister during the same episode of the program, it ought have given a long-time viewer of the program further cause for doubt the next time a story along these lines was run, and the time after that, and the time after that. That long-time viewers of such programs generally don’t respond with such scepticism says something about the sort of audience these programs appeal to. That the mainstream media persists in this canard, and that governments are in on the act, says something about the kind of society in which we live.

  2. In 1996 Amanda Vanstone, then the Employment Minister, told Parliament about the way the system was being rorted by the Wright family.

    Then it turned out that the Wright family didn’t exist.

    This incident was fixed in my memory forever when Paul McDermott, as quizmaster on Good News Week, had photos displayed of Danny Bonaduce, Helen Demidenko, Charles Manson, and Amanda Vanstone, and asked the contestants which was the odd one out.

    I’ll post the answer later, to give anybody who wants it the opportunity to make a guess before reading on.

  3. Re: my earlier link to Pilger’s latest film “Utopia” (which is on SBS tomorrow night at 8:30pm.

    I was surprised to see that it was available on-line already from “Brisbanetimes”. I opened the link and it started to show the film, but I decided I would watch it tonight instead because I had more time to watch it properly.

    Tonight I try the link and I get:

    Oops! Something seems to be broken.
    The page you are trying to access doesn’t seem to exist.

    I’ll happily pick “conspiracy” rather than “cock-up” in this case.

  4. Almost 1 year ago Snowden started leaking NSA documents.

    The US establishment class accused him of treason etc.. and said he “should have gone through the correct channels”, even as they were jailing Manning for 35 years.

    Snowden said he had tried. The US said there was absolutely no record of that. They lied.

    They have miraculously now found an email from Snowden along the lines they swore didn’t exist.

    The US is currently based on nothing but lies and destruction.

    Our biggest pro-empire trolls here will have their work cut out for them. Good, they should have to work at least as hard to push their lies as we have had to work to expose the truth.

    Usually when a person is caught outright lying they at least go through the motions of contrition, not this lot. Lies are all they have.

  5. @J-D
    Danny Bonaduce, Helen Demidenko, Charles Manson, Amanda Vanstone: which is the odd one out?

    Charles Manson: because his family really existed.

  6. @Megan

    How odd!

    A few minths back, Hubby and I got an invitation to see Utopia at the Labor Council building in Sydney one Friday night. We botched our travel and had some trouble finding the place and got their ten minutes late. The place was locked up and so we had no choice but to give it a miss. We had a nice meal instead.

    Last night we set the recorder to capture it but the recorder failed, apparently because SBS is no longer where it was some time back, due to the analog transmission ending, or something. We should have forced a reconfiguration of our digital TV settings. So again, we have missed out.

    Perhaps we will need to wait until it comes out on DVD!

  7. This comes under perverse stuff that I should have known but didn’t, but might have guessed if I’d thought about it, even though I hadn’t.

    There are seven states in the US that bar atheists from public office.

    The obvious suspects are on the list:

    Texas; Mississippi, South Carolina; Arkansas; Tennessee … But Pennsylvania and Maryland are a surprise.

  8. @Fran Barlow

    I highly recommend it. Not much that is new to many of us, but powerful stuff. The first few minutes is a bit disturbing but it is worth watching all the way through.

    He didn’t let “Lateline” off the hook for their shameful role in fabricating the propaganda leading to the blatantly racist “intervention”. The ALP actually cops it a bit harder than the LNP – but that is fair because they were in government when he made the film.

    You can watch it for free on “SBS On Demand” until 14 June.

  9. @Fran Barlow

    I’ll post again without the link:

    I highly recommend it. Not much that is new to many of us, but powerful stuff. The first few minutes is a bit disturbing but it is worth watching all the way through.

    He didn’t let “Lateline” off the hook for their shameful role in fabricating the propaganda leading to the blatantly racist “intervention”. The ALP actually cops it a bit harder than the LNP – but that is fair because they were in government when he made the film.

    You can watch it for free on “SBS On Demand” until 14 June.

  10. A recent article by Sue Richardson at The Conversation (If we are to work to 70…) reported a roughly double proportion over 1992-2011 of casuals in the male workforce aged 25-54, 37% of whom are married with dependent children. The casuals are concentrated in un- and semi-skilled jobs, and seems an unambiguous indicator of increased job insecurity rather than lifestyle choices in this core demographic. So it won’t surprise if the 457 visa arrangements soon come back as an issue.
    457s have expanded quickly in the last few years and seems to be now officially preferred over permanent migration. Much more permissive attitudes towards work by students and young workers have accompanied the new emphasis. I have no problem with the spirit of this, there’s a lot of positives, but we can expect its operation will see an expanded inclusion of the govt’s anti-worker agenda.
    The recent red tape reduction includes no penalty for employers if they hire more 457 workers than they have permits for (ie break the law). Under the previous govt, it’s said one employer hired 800 workers when they had 100 permits, but the department will now have no comeback. A SMH self-nominating poll of 4879 people in March showed 87% against this change.
    Such a policy creates little incentive for employers to put training in place to locally supply the 290,000 extra offshore oil and gas workers which a recent govt report estimates will be needed by 2018. Having killed the MRRT for employers, the coalition hypocrites want to stop resource rents being taken by employees in militant unions, reducing income taxation of labour rents which flow to the rest of us. The original intent was as a swing labour supply to cope with temporary shortages, not to produce “internationally competitive” wage levels. So Labor had a 10% wage premium requirement for 457 workers; how long will this last?
    The requirement for market testing by employers wanting 457 visas seems flexible, perhaps too much so. Worrying is that the nurses’ union is saying that 3000 out of our annual 8000 nursing graduates can’t get jobs, and the 457 workers are around the same number. The employers say the foreign workers are in specialist areas, and it is lack of available supervisors which causes graduate unemployment; they blame a lack of coordination between universities and hospitals for this. Whatever the truth, skilled service sector workers must be central to a high income future of our labour force. Or are we going to be like the US hospital system built for many years on the back of Filipino(a) doctors and nurses?

  11. @Paul Norton

    Too true.

    If the right whingers were at all capable of a speck of insight they would quickly conclude that a single case study of a welfare rort is less than useless when trying to assess the utility or otherwise of the system and that they are collectively being played like a fiddle.

    Another example which is based more on my personal experience and subsequently repeated for years from two different family members was an allegation that there was an epidemic of parents gambling away the Back to School Allowance on the pokies. Some doubtless did, but I can logically deduce that the percentage of parents who did is almost guaranteed to be identical to the proportion of them that are problem gamblers.

  12. Why are we importing labour when we have a labour surplus (unemployment)? It only makes sense to import labour when the nation has a labour shortage.

    What we need are policies to ensure our labour surplus is soaked up. The policies needed are;

    1. Strict immigration visas which are only issued for specialities where we have a temporary niche shortage.
    2. Strict immigration policies based on a population limiting policy (capped for sustainability).
    3. Expedite processing of all refugees in Australia and immediately accept all bona fide refugees but reduce general migrant intake 1 for 1 for every bona fide refugee accepted and also in accordance with point 2.
    4. Adopt a more stimulatory budget position.
    5. Adopt the job guarantee as proposed by MMT advocate Bill Mitchell.
    6. Set a minimum wage with the job guarantee and set this wage on traditional principles (one wage should keep a family of four for all basic needs including food, housing and education).
    7. Impose punitive tariffs on goods from countries whose labour laws do not meet ILO international labour standards.
    8. Advise any country that then does not want to take our raw materials, “Fine, no problem, the longer we hold on to exhaustible resources the more valuable they will become. We are in no hurry to fire sale them.”

  13. @Fran Barlow
    I don’t doubt what you say about seven States having laws on the books that disqualify atheists from public office, but it’s worth adding that it’s unlikely in the extreme that these laws could be enforced or would withstand Constitutional challenge.

  14. yup, right in there from the start.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    i think they would argue, with sincere fundamentalist conviction, along the lines that atheism is not a religion cousin they says so and therefore the constitution don’t not apply here – cousin it says a religious test – any more than if we all tested them for commonism or darwinism. -a.v.

  15. The leading court judgement on this issue is the unanimous ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the 1961 case of Torcaso v Watkins, which stated ‘We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.” Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.’

    Also, in the more recent (1990s) case of Silverman v Campbell, a State court (in South Carolina) ruled that parts of the State Constitution that would have blocked atheists from holding public office were violations of the US Constitution (which meant they could not be enforced).

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