archive: January 2022

27 January 2022

Alan Kohler — hardly a raging lefty: “[W]eak wage growth has been the most pressing economic problem for years, and arguably the most pressing social problem is the financial disadvantage of women. Too many jobs are chronically underpaid, and they are mainly the ones done by women: aged care, child care, nursing, waiting, interior design, book editing — in fact virtually any job done mainly by women is both undervalued and underpaid. … Right now, there is a ballooning crisis in health care and aged care because workers simply aren’t paid enough for the pressure they’re under in the pandemic: there’s no buffer, and unions are warning of an exodus from the industry if the job is not valued more highly. It’s not so much that individual employers don’t want to pay their staff more, although there’s undoubtedly some of that. Most businesses value their staff and want them to be happy. But they can’t charge their customers more, or think they can’t. With child care there is a circular ceiling on prices: operators can’t charge more than the mother earns, otherwise it’s not worth going to work and having the children looked after by someone else (that is, another woman). But as discussed, women are often poorly paid, which flows to those looking after their children.Government subsidies for aged care, child care and health care could be increased sufficiently to lift wages, thereby socialising the solution rather than putting the burden entirely on those using the services.”

26 January 2022

Prof Megan Davis [$]: Changing the date is akin to lipstick on a pig. It moves the date but doesn’t address the more complex underlying issue that drives anti-Australia Day sentiment, and that is the place of First Nations people in our nation. … The Uluru Statement from the Heart … seeks a primary reform — the right to be heard. It calls for a constitutionally protected voice to parliament for First Nations people. It presents a vision for the ­nation that is anchored in the ancient cultures of this continent. It combines better indigenous participation in the democratic life of the state, as Aboriginal advocates have been asking for over a century, with the agency of a ­national referendum. … The voice to parliament is in effect a duty to consult First Nations on laws and policies that impact them. Closing the Gap is decade-long evidence that this does not happen now. The bushfires and the vaccine rollout are recent evidence that First Nations are excluded from policy discussions on matters that impact upon them. … [The Uluru Statement] is a rallying call for all Australians. It is the voice to parliament referendum — more than any debate over a future republican model — that would truly unite our nation.”

Claire G Coleman [$]: “Every year 1994, on January 26, Australians have celebrated the invasion and subsequent genocide of Indigenous people. Every year, … [t]he calls to change the date, the calls to abolish Australia Day, become increasingly loud. Perhaps people are beginning to see what the day truly is for many people — a spasm of jingoistic white nationalist fervour and an insult to Indigenous Australians, the survivors of genocide. … The original decision to celebrate January 26, to hold Australia’s national day on the date that the continent was invaded and the genocide of Indigenous peoples began, was a political one. It can be seen as nothing more than a statement of intent, to celebrate and idealise Australia as a British colony and, above all, as white. … I consider it the responsibility of the coloniser to fight against the colony, even to dismantle it. You outnumber us, you have the political power, although you apparently lack the political will to do better than you are doing. … The colonisers benefit from the colony. Every coloniser and descendent of colonisers, every non-Indigenous person, is advantaged by the colony. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the colonisers work to dismantle their own privilege. That is something for you to reflect on: how much do you believe in justice? Even that is not enough. It is time to ask yourself: what can you do for the people of this land, what are you willing to do? Do you think you are doing enough? Honestly?”

25 January 2022

Julie Edwards: ”[W]e justly talk about the impact of climate change on our environment, our homes and livelihoods and our future generations, seldom do we reflect on the ways in which the existing harms of the prison system overlap with and exacerbate the impacts of climate change for some of the most marginalised in our community. … In December 2018, a riot at Alice Springs Correctional Centre was linked to a heat wave, exacerbated by overcrowding and a lack of air conditioning in cells. Excessive, prolonged heat takes its toll in a variety of direct and indirect ways:  disrupting sleep, causing health problems, and creating conflict. Between January and July 2019, Alice Springs experienced 129 days over 35°C and 55 days over 40°C. … Just last week in Roebourne, a small mining town in the north-west of Western Australia, incarcerated people sweltered through an unbearable 50-degree day in small prison cells without air conditioning. … [W]e need to rethink our justice systems. We require a more humane response that prioritises addressing the underlying causes of offending to drive down the need for prisons in the first place. … This reorientation, from prisons to interventions that hold people to account and support people to lead crime-free, safe and healthy lives, should be seen as an integral part of a just transition to a sustainable future.

(In 2020, the WA Labor government defended the lack of air conditioning in the Roebourne prison, saying “there are some people who literally don’t like air conditioning”.)

21 January 2022

Kristin O’Connell: “All poverty is ultimately income poverty. And its number one cause in this country is abhorrently low welfare payments. We don’t need more food banks, more rebates, more niche supports that are impossible to find out about, let alone access. We need money. … We’re long overdue for a new measure of poverty in this country. Until then, the best we have is the Henderson poverty line, dating back to the 60s. When people on jobseeker lived at this level temporarily in 2020 because of Covid-19 supportswe heard of the relief it brought, and also how many people still went without (more than a third still regularly skipped meals, medication and healthcare). This is the rate unemployed people and advocates have been pleading to have brought back urgently while the long-term work of better understanding poverty and rebuilding public investment in housing, healthcare and education is done. Both major parties are committed to tax cuts for the rich, negative gearing and capital gains tax policies that fuel astronomical house price growth — and pouring good money after bad on farcical defence projects. Yet they have the audacity to lecture us on careful spending. Both have staunchly ignored every shred of evidence about how government-inflicted poverty and ‘mutual’ obligations are destroying lives and killing people. … So no, whether Liberal or Labor, you’re not for the poor. You’re at war with us.”