A lifestyle without a life-chance risk?

A recent study concluded that there is no underclass in Australia. Another study reported that most Australians were living decently.

Whether those at the bottom of the pile will continue to enjoy a reasonable standard of living is becoming questionable. Today, the welfare system is so generous that those without any skills have no inducement to seek work; indeed, a couple with three or four children would receive less in cash were the father to have a full-time unskilled or semi-skilled job. A working wife would naturally tilt the balance. Hence, many unemployed couples with children have no desire to obtain full-time employment, and set up homes in low-employment areas such as the seaside. This comfortable situation may not remain, as many people have made it clear in my presence that they are literally sick of supporting their ‘dole bludgers’.

A pharmacist friend told me recently that less than thirty-five per cent of the prescriptions he deals with are non-welfare scripts. Welfare patients … usually account for a higher ratio of medical prescriptions per capita than the non-welfare clients … About thirty per cent of the community seems to be taxpayer-supported in welfare terms. If these welfare cases (usually the aged) use up fifty-two prescriptions per head within the year, the remaining prescriptions are free. By mid-year, many of these patients have reached their limit of fifty-two. This says a great deal about their doctors and the way they practise medicine. … …

It is easy to learn to accept what is thrown at you and to learn from one’s neighbour. One such neighbour is a divorcee whose sustenance was taken up by the State long before she reached retirement age. Then, by consulting a number of doctors at the same time, she became entitled to sickness benefits, a sticker on her car (which enables her to park her car in zones reserved for the handicapped), a low-rent government flat, and free medication for her claimed ills. She plays lawn bowls a few times a week, and satisfies her boyfriend regularly. Now, that’s a lifestyle anyone can aspire to.

That’s why my relatives in Malaysia and Singapore sneer at Australia’s pretensions. They know this country as well as their own. While they like the people and love the country’s beauty, they are correctly critical of some features of Australian life which reflect poor policies by government. They can afford to sneer. They live well over there, far more luxuriously than those in comparable jobs in Australia can.

They can also afford to ignore the jibes of Australian journalists about the media there being too supportive of government. For they know that we in this country have to ask: who owns the newspaper or journal; what is the relationship between the government and the owner; and what are the political and religious affiliations of named media persons; in order to interpret what is presented to us on matters important to us. … Fortunately for the nation, there are some outstandingly independent media people around.

One can also count on some media members supporting, quite unthinkingly, the politicking by other nations, international agencies or ambitious individuals, e.g. the propaganda on East Timor and an inviolable Israel, the entry rights of Vietnamese (and now Chinese) economic refugees, or how some worthy local politician is about to lead the world in this or other arena. Some of our media will buy any story, especially if it aggrandises an Australian. … …

It is amazing the pap and trivia that we are fed. As well, some of the media slaver at the mention of the death penalty in Singapore and Malaysia for drug dealing. One would have to blame the education system for the inability of these people to think through an issue, assuming that they would recognise one if it spat them in their eye.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ present an accurate picture of the mid-1990s in my terrain. The burgeoning welfare burden of hard-working taxpayers is now facilitated by an alleged federal government policy of categorising as disability pensioners those who had been on unemployment benefits for yonks (a long time), and also paying them more than the dole! Who wouldn’t want to be a disability pensioner? I can identify a couple of these.

Australia has been described as the country for ‘giving money for nothing.’ Little wonder that many who are able to finance their escape from the vicissitudes of life in their home countries claim political asylum by ‘taking a boat’ and banging on our doors, insisting on staying; welfare beckons!

Where are the media and politicians who will act in the national interest? All that I see is public posturing and politicking. Does not this ‘lucky country’ deserve its economic problems?)

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