Anti-Poverty Week (Letter to PM)

October 14th, 2013  |  Published in Economic (in)justice

anti2Poverty is a global obscenity, of course, Mr Abbott, but knowing you as a chap with fierce feelings about ‘borders’, I’m sending along a list of eight issues you should be aware of within Australia on International Day for Eradication of Poverty. (That’s today, 17 October, in case it’s passed you by.) The poor might always be with us, as you say, Mr Abbott, but you’re supposed to be governing for them, too, so please pay attention to these points.
1. Poverty and hardship affect more than one million Australians, particularly the elderly, young, single, sole parents, Indigenous, those with disabilities, and recent arrivals. Too many groups, really. More than 100,000 are homeless. That’s hard to fathom, isn’t it – in ‘the lucky country’, where we pride ourselves on ‘mateship’ and ‘the fair go’?
2. Employment, even full-time, is no guarantee against poverty. Pretty staggering, eh? Apparently we have anti6increasing numbers of working poor; not quite on the scale of the USA – yet – but abolishing penalty rates for increasingly casualised work seems like a bad move, doesn’t it?
3. Forcing sole parents into employment, often the sort that won’t keep them out of poverty, but still takes them away from their children, whose care then costs most of the pay packet, seems pretty crazy, don’t you see? Reinstating parenting payments is baseline. Do have a think about it.
4. One church group has advocated an increase of at least $50/week to the Newstart job-seekers’ allowance. Bare minimum, I would say. I couldn’t live on $260/week, especially if I had to pay rent; could you, Mr Abbott?
5. A few years ago Professor Peter Saunders reckoned 2% of GDP would eradicate poverty in Australia. It might be a bit different now, but not much, so how about spending that 2%, Mr Abbott?
6. It might be obvious, but being poor means less access to health services, housing, education, transport, computers and internet, child care, aged care, and social inclusion, among other things. That makes it even more important to spend public money on public services – rather than wars, armed forces, prisons, border protection, and detention centres – don’t you think?
7. Around the world, more than one billion people are desperately poor so it doesn’t make sense to transfer money from international aid to offshore processing of asylum seekers, does it?
8. It’s actually in everybody’s interests to address poverty, did you know, because the greater the divide between rich and poor, the more discord, violence, and crime there is. I’m not making that up – honest. St Vinnies have said that if we don’t act “we will see a return to the dismal injustices that characterised the dawn of the industrialised era, where people were kicked when down, while governments stood idly by.” You wouldn’t do that, would you, Mr Abbott? I’m sure you could be empathic if you really tried, so see what you can do – please.
It really is about governing for all Australians, just like you’ve said yourself, but that means taking a good hard look at policy alternatives to neoliberalism. A rising tide does NOT ‘lift all boats’, as the rich would have us believe, so instead of ‘stopping the boats’, Mr Abbott, it’s time for a bit of heave-ho-ing.
Cheerio for now, Joan Beckwith.
Here’s a link to the Anti-Poverty Week website:



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2 comments on “Anti-Poverty Week (Letter to PM)”

  1. Jessica says:

    Parenting payments for parents – Not Newstart & United sole parents of Australia are Facebook support groups for sole parents trying to survive on Newstart payments and parents trying to prepare to be placed onto “Newstart” if you can take just 1 hour or even 20 minutes to read some or most of the sole parents stories on these and similar pages S.P.A.G single parents action group.. you will see the proof that the changes made were more then a huge mistake thousands of families are living in poverty and most 80-90% were/are already working and/or studying before changes were made so therefore should never of been placed on a payment designed for a single person with no dependents and not working/studying.. This whole system will just create more heartache and poverty.. incentives are fine but cutting a sole parents pay is just plain wrong!
    Please take the time to consider the reality of the situation and what this will do to future generations left at home alone and without a present parent it will be more trouble and money to repair damage.. payments for sole parents need to be changed back before it gets too late! Many have already lost homes, jobs, mental stability and respect from society why is Australia refusing to be fair to all familes not just those with money and support already.. We are the so called lucky country so why are there thousands apon thousands of working poor.. one step forward and two steps back is not helping anyone actually get off welfare or work etc.. as it’s impossible to get past the hurdles placed in front of us.. we need savings, life insurance and hope for our families too and we deserve more respect for raising our own children! With most sole parents without any outside family support and a lot of non custodial parents not paying child support and not being forced to look for work or study (even if they are already) because the child is not in their care and also most non custodial parents  rarely take on a weekend with their own child/children a month let alone 24/7 job which is what a sole custodial parent must do while working/studying or both.. if the government wants sole parents to break the poverty cycle then allow more time to establish a well paying carer not just a job and/or allow them to study until they Have a stable education to fall onto and eventual actually get off welfare payments all together… that will not be humanly possible on “newstart” especially for a sole parent already giving all they have and sometimes giving even more when they have nothing left for themselves emotionaly, physically and mentally not to mention spiritualy as our spirits are being broken by all the negative and false media propaganda while we are doing the right thing in every way…. Parenting payments for all sole parents Not Newstart until youngest is 13-15 yrs at least..

    • joanbeckwith says:

      Many thanks, Jessica, for your comment (well, it’s more like another post, really). What you say about the imperatives for parenting payments (not Newstart) for sole parents makes absolute sense to me, and I believe to most people if they think about it clearly in terms of the impact on children, as well as the sole parent, of the current impossible conditions. I did send a link to my post to Tony Abbott’s office, so hopefully whoever is delegated to answer it will also see your response.

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