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Why the excluded are still waiting

  • 01 July 2014

It's always the big lie that must be tackled first. Otherwise the other lies look like the truth.

Terra Nullius is the big lie, for example, that allows all the other lies that justify the invasion and colonisation of Australia.

Similarly, I recently read an apologist for the continued oppression of Palestinians reciting the big lie that 'there's never been a Palestine'.

The big lie that the Government's review of welfare in the Mclure interim report is predicated on is that 'welfare' (read 'government' or 'social spending') is the problem and the market is the solution.

It reminds me of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek's observation that 'Society itself is responsible for the calamity against which it then offers itself as a remedy.'

Pope Francis also has something to say about this:

Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

When you've got a rich country like ours 'unable' to afford to ensure that the more than 100,000 people experiencing homelessness or the more than 200,000 people on the waiting list for social housing have a place to call home, it is not a misfortune or a mistake. It is the sound of the excluded still waiting.

When you've got more than 700,000 people unemployed and around 900,000 underemployed, on top of those who are set to lose their jobs due to company closures, the dismembering of the public service and government cuts to social spending — that is also the sound of the excluded still waiting.

Let us not forget the woeful inadequacy of the Newstart payment, at only 40 per cent of the minimum wage. Neither let us forget the single mums who were forced onto the Newstart payment at the beginning of last year, nor the working poor, for there are some who would like to squeeze them even more by reducing the minimum wage and taking away what little rights they have.

When the Government does a triple backflip and declares it is not committed to the redistribution of resources recommended by the Gonski review as a way to address the outrageous inequality that besmirches education