Do unto others

Who knows if the pages of Morrison’s Bible might be missing the pages that discuss ’do unto others as you wish them do to you’? Those words are one version of ’the golden rule’ which is a tenet of most religions according to Wikipedia. His years as Immigration Minister and then Treasurer demonstrated very little evidence of his Christian faith. His modus operandi hasn’t changed since he rolled Turnbull while falsely claiming that he had no part of the process.

As evidence of his lack of concern for others, we could discuss the human rights of refugees including the family of refugee seekers not only taken from their home in Biloela at some ungodly hour of the morning (pun intended) and (via Melbourne and Darwin) detained on Christmas Island. We could discuss the lack of concern for our descendants through the lack of meaningful action on climate change. We could even look at the lack of interest for reasonably simple concepts such as civil rights, unlike religious freedom legislation recently trotted out to pander to the conservative Christians that make up what seems to be a considerable part of Morrison’s support base. But those subjects have been done to death recently and even those in the ‘Canberra bubble’ Morrison inhabits while claiming he is on the outside must have heard the significant discontent.

Something there hasn’t been a lot of discussion on recently is cruelty to those that are for some reason or other reliant on government social security benefits, apart from the dollar value of the actual benefit itself. The reality is that the difference between economic security and social security for a lot of people is having a conversation at work about future employment, or lack of it, in the next week.

To borrow the words of the Prime Minister, ‘if you have a go, you’ll get a go’. So if your boss does call you into the office next week to discuss how the loss of your job is a benefit (somehow), using Morrison’s words you might assume that the government will support you while you are restructuring your life, wondering how you’re going to make the next mortgage payment and making the obvious decision that you need assistance while you find a job.

You might assume that — but it doesn’t happen. To call the government’s support payment system ‘welfare’ is laughable as the amount of money paid is hardly likely to allow you to fare (live) well. To make it worse, there are draconian processes in place or proposed that will reinforce the notion that you are a second class citizen who is trying to scam the system while enjoying life on the government’s largesse. While the government is correct in suggesting that most Newstart recipients also receive other government benefits, the same The Conversation fact check also reports
Of the 18,446 properties advertised in Greater Sydney and the Illawarra on the weekend of 24-25 March 2018, only 57 were affordable and appropriate for households on income support payments without placing them into rental stress.
And despite the propaganda that most Newstart recipients are young ‘beach bums’ living out of the back of their vans in a public carpark at Byron Bay or Margaret River while waiting for the next good wave, the reality is different:
Statistics, collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and analysed by The Benevolent Society, debunked the “myth” that Newstart is a young person’s payment.

The findings revealed that there were 174,532 Aussies aged 55 to 64 signed on, compared to 156,664 between the ages of 25 and 34.

While there are more older Aussies simply in receipt of the benefit, the data also showed that unemployed Australians, aged 60-64, remain on the unemployment benefit for an average of 187 weeks before signing off, compared to 104 weeks for those aged 25-29.

And, whereas ‘signing off’ for younger generations means the recipient has landed a job, in many cases with older Aussies the ceasing of payments can often be explained by a transition to the Age Pension, after reaching the age of 65.
The ‘cashless welfare card’ has been claimed by the government to be such a success in ‘trial’ areas, they are now discussing expanding the concept to far more people. The premise is that you won’t be able to ‘waste’ your support payments on alcohol, gambling or drugs if 80% of your payment is loaded onto a debit card that has restrictions on where it can be used. Nine Media report that a woman who was forced onto the ‘cashless card’ couldn’t buy second hand textbooks for Uni – as she couldn’t get the cash
She also had to abandon a nursing placement after she was blocked from buying a stethoscope online with her cashless welfare card. When she queried why, she says Indue, the company that manages the welfare card program, told her she couldn't purchase anything from that website because it sold hand sanitiser — a restricted item because of its high alcohol content.
The same article also discusses parents not being able to send kids on school excursions and camps, purchase clothes, second-hand appliances or furniture to fulfil a need at home.

Morrison is also apparently keen to introduce drug testing for those reliant on social security. It is reinforcing the propaganda that (apart from living in the public carpark at a great beach) social security recipients are drug users who are too wasted to get a job. Again according to The Conversation
Welfare, health and drug treatment experts have consistently opposed the proposal since it was first introduced three years ago. They say these measures will only serve to further marginalise people on welfare and people who use drugs, and may have a range of unintended consequences such as homelessness.

If the government really wanted to assist people who have drug problems to return to work, it would increase funding for drug treatment.
If Morrison wants to argue that the research from Australia is biased for some reason or other, he is on shaky ground as New Zealand and over a dozen states in the USA have already tried drug testing social security recipients. The New Zealand results are stunning
The policy was introduced in 2013 by the National government, which cited statistics suggesting between 10% and 20% of people on welfare benefits used drugs.

But data from NZ’s Ministry of Social Development shows that of the 47,115 people who were tested in 2017-18, only 170 recorded a positive result for drugs. That equates to 0.3% of those tested. Statistics from previous years tell a similar story: consistently less than 1% of those tested have recorded a positive test.
The results are no better in Missouri.
of the 38,970 welfare applicants, 446 were tested and 48 tested positive in the 2014 calendar year. In the 2018 calendar year, 121 were referred to a mandatory test, with 47 testing positive.
Pentecostal Christians generally believe that the Bible, despite its apparent contradictions, is the absolute truth which describes the word and actions of the Christian God. The ‘golden rule’ is a tenet of the Bible (and most other holy books for that matter). So when Morrison eventually loses his job, his beliefs suggest that others should try to dehumanise him, as he has done to others.

It’s a pity that some misguided company directors will probably give him some secure employment to leverage on the connections and ‘experience’ Morrison has gained in marginalising others and he will never have to exist on what passes for welfare policy in this country.

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