There’s a few young guys currently hanging out in the streets of Mullum asking for money.
They don’t look particularly drug-addled or destitute. In fact they seem well fed and in reasonabe mental health. It has challenged my sense of compassion not because I never give money to strangers but because they don’t look like they need it.
And while I never reached the low-point of street begging, in my early 20s I was certainly grateful to the Salvos for furniture and clothes, the Hare Krishnas for healthy cheap food, and yes – the government for providing the funds to allow me to study music.
This year’s Anti-Poverty Week kicked off October 14 and co-incides with a new report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) which claims one in eight people overall and one in six children live below the internationally accepted poverty line.
That equates to 12.8 per cent of us.
While the report lays into our meanness given ‘years of unprecedented growth and wealth creation,’ it is also scathing of changes passed in the Senate last week which will result in over 100,000 sole parents on the Parenting Payment being between ‘$60 and $100
a week poorer from January 2013 when those with children over eight years of age are dropped to the lower Newstart Allowance.’
Will this report make a difference? Unlikely. That’s because collectively, our attitude generally is to demonise those less fortunate and aspire to wealth.
One of the most powerful – and evil – conservative narratives is that there is a section of society who are moochers that willingly suckle at the wealth the rest create. It plays into an incorrect assumption: that the poor like being poor and don’t want to aspire to better themselves. Instead they are labelled lazy and dumb and that’s their fault. It also ignores mental health issues.
Not only are they somehow a threat because they may multiply, they must be punished and suffer with less and less. Given that logic, anything that can’t exist without assistance (like tax breaks), should be allowed to fail. Goodbye big oil, coal and auto... and the rest.
Tax breaks for über rich individuals and corporations is obscenely disproportionate to whatever crackers you throw at the poor.
Subjugating the disadvantaged – who you know nothing about by the way – reflects our distrurbing collective psychopathy (lack of empathy).
It all fits neatly under the banner of ‘neo-fascism.’
Woolworths – owner of Dan Murphy’s – is a company that is used to getting what it wants, as Mullumbimby discovered when the supermarket giant insisted on jumping the development queue and built in Station Street before sewer connection was available.
This time, the liquor giant was so confident of securing its Byron licence that it signed a 25-year lease with the owner of the Jonson Street premises before approval.
While the state government is ideologically, commercially and politically aligned with developers, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) – which rejected Dan Murphy’s – is thankfully a genuinely independent body.
Its chairperson, Chris Sidoti, has been Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995–2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992–1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987–1992).
Can the the NSW planning department’s Joint Regional Planning Panel boast such quality of independence?
As some may know, Woolworths also makes significant profit from poker-machine addicts. But a new study by activist group GetUp! says it targets socially disadvantaged areas (see www. getup.org.au/profiting-from-poverty).
Farmers squeezed by a tightening supermarket duopoly and alarming suicide rates in the bush are rarely reported in the national press; its newspages are instead filled with colourful full- page ads by Coles and Woolies undercutting each other.
With retail, perpetuating the illusion that cheap is always best only serves the retailer and consumer, not the producer.
Competition, while a bedrock of western prosperity, has diabolical consequences if it isn’t regulated or examined. One could well expect a renewed liquor licence application from Dan Murphy’s in due course, if not a supreme court challenge. With unlimited legal funds available, why wouldn’t they?
As of going to print, broadcaster Alan Jones and radio station 2GB (that he part owns) are losing advertisers fist over dollar due to comments he made about the prime minister’s now deceased father.
And supermarket giant Woolworths is also under fire, according to Fairfax’s www.brisbanetimes.com.au.
‘A jacket made out of a chaff bag, a reference to Jones’s remarks [about Gillard being dumped at sea in a chaff bag], was donated to the Liberal Club dinner as an auction item by Woolworths community relations manager Simon Berger.’
Mr Berger claims to the Times to have attended the function ‘in a private capacity’, while Woolies has been forced to ‘suspend’ the occasional advertising they do with the show.
‘Woolworths in no way supports the comments made at that function,’ the statement reportedly said.
It’s obvious that Woolies and everyone one else associated had to say it was inappropriate, right? But the remarks are similar to what he’s been saying for years – yet this has sparked a fire-storm.
The Chaser did a brilliant parody of overlaying The Beatles song Julia with Alan and his ilk’s vitriolic rants against the PM, so the intent has been swilling around for years.
It’s speech he is well adept at and is designed to divide.
As journalist/author George Monbiot recently said on ABC radio’s Late Night Live, the only way to make change happen is action. Ask your redneck brother-in-law to explain why they listen to Jones and his ilk. Or better yet, as www.change.org says, petition the companies that still advertise on 2GB.
Those remaining include Telstra, Hyundai, Volvo, Roses Only, St George Bank, Harvey Norman, Toyota, Virgin... more at https:// www.facebook.com/SackAlanJones/posts/209484422516022.
Lock the Gate organisers were correct to drop Jones; however, I am sure there were plenty who would have relished the opportunity to heckle the old man in person. Myself included.