Thursday, April 14, 2011

Labor PM in Favour of Jobs (or “Oh, the betrayal”)

A funny thing happened last night. Julia Gillard gave a speech on jobs at the Sydney Institute, which almost everyone only heard what they wanted to hear. And what they seemed to want to hear was that Julia Gillard was beating up on unemployed.

Here’s the coverage in the media:

PM takes aim at welfare Pull your weight, PM tells jobless

Opposition slams PM's welfare crackdown as 'motherhood cliches'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Budget will be tough on welfare cheats

Julia Gillard declares war on the idle

Wow. Talk about ball-bustingly evil. She must have been going in hard and with intent to wound and kill.

Except, actually she didn’t.

Before she gave the speech a partial transcript was released, soon after a friend sent me a message saying:

Gillard's speech is interesting - looks like she's trying to take on welfare with language of the right, but rhetoric of the left.

He was exactly right.

Many on the left used to hate it when Howard would take traditionally working-class phrases (such as “mateship”) and make them his own. He did it so well, many voted for him thinking he was the one to best represent the working class (Howard’s battlers, if you will). Well last night Gillard on a topic that Howard would have thought he would have owned she used phrases that he would have used (eg “hard work” “fair go” – which are actually working-class phrases lost to the ALP for 12 years), but the points she was actually making would have been completely foreign to him.

She actually gave a speech straight out of the ALP handbook. A speech which, contrary to what some commentators and people from the left were saying, would not have been given by Howard, but instead, is one that would have fit easily within the Paul Keating oeuvre.

We have for so long now suckered ourselves into watching for any words or phrases to detect the underlying message. It’s that search for the “dog whistle”. Oh he’s mentioning terrorism, but we know what he’s really talking about etc. The media fall head first into this every time – it’s easy, and means they don’t need to bother with analysis or details. A word is said – and we all rush to assume we know that word is code for something else.

Last night the word was “idleness”.

In a 3,500 word speech, this was apparently the only thing that mattered:

The party of work not welfare, the party of opportunity not exclusion, the party of responsibility not idleness.image

I know. The shock.

How dare she articulate that the Australian Labor Party stands for getting people working. Let’s hear some more of the horrors (you know – the “war on the idle”):

I want young people to have a fair go, to have an opportunity in life, never to be held back by economic circumstance or social expectation. I’ve worked to ensure this in education.

Our reforms have been founded on high expectations.

That all children can learn.

That you don’t settle for failure or disguise failure with low expectations. That there is no one who cannot benefit from new skills.

I have fought the prejudice that said some kids can’t learn, that they are better off at the back of the room doing busy work and being passed on up to the next grade. That fight goes on.

And I am extending this campaign of high expectations to welfare as well.

Our reforms are founded on high expectations.

That everyone who can work should work.

I know. What a betrayal of Ben Chifley. How un-Labor like, Hawke and Keating must be shaking their heads in disgust. I mean look at what the Labor platform says on this issue:

Labor believes that every Australian should have the opportunity to reach their potential and to participate fully in the economic and social life of the nation.

Today, building a fairer Australia means working actively to overcome disadvantage and social exclusion. This is not only an important moral objective, it is a crucial economic objective, because as our population ages, Australia cannot afford to have a high proportion of its population excluded from employment, dependent upon transfer payments and unable to contribute to future wealth creation.

During tough economic times, governments must take every possible step to prevent higher unemployment leading to long-term exclusion from the workforce, de-skilling, family breakdown and social isolation.

Labor recognises the need for programs designed to enhance the skills of people of working age and assist them to join the workforce. In providing income support during periods of unemployment it is essential to ensure that financial barriers to work are removed and that incentives to participate in the workforce are enhanced.

Oh woops.

Everything Gillard said last night could have come straight out of the ALP platform – it was Labor to the core.

It was also Gillard to the core. Ever since she became leader (and even before) she has repeated again and again her line that work is vital, and the best way to get into the workforce is through education.

Here she was last night:

The Salisbury teenager who has drifted from education. He could get a job if he got a trade.

The Blacktown twenty-something who left school at 16. He needs to get his foundation skills right – to be able to read, write and do maths.

The girl in Woodridge, south of Brisbane, who didn’t fit in at school, now she’s alone with a baby of her own. She needs more education and so will her child.

The mature aged man in Dandenong who lost his job and lost his way. He can’t lift and carry like he’s twenty but it doesn’t mean he never wants to work again.

This is getting tough with these dole bludgers?

If she wants to get in good with Alan Jones and co, what the hell is she doing being nice about some girl who if you mentioned her circumstances on right-wing talk back would probably be reported that she got knocked up just to get the child care payments?

She’s talking about education, and about skills?! Bloody hell, where are the cuts?!

imageShe goes on:

The Government’s approach to this is practical and realistic.

We know that not everyone on a welfare benefit can work.

Some bear disabilities or caring responsibilities that mean paid work is impossible. These Australians deserve our greatest respect and ongoing support.

Others on a benefit can work but not right away. Some need practical help to overcome ill-health or meet family responsibilities.

Oh bloody hell! I thought she was bashing up on those on welfare? What the hell is this understanding that not everyone on welfare can work business? Can you hear Howard or Abbott saying that?

Some should take up obligations which may not involve working now but will prepare them for work in the future.

Things as simple as learning to read and write at a higher level.

Wait – she’s still talking about people who can’t read or write? Get nasty, Julia!

The right mix of incentives is vital to all.

Relying on welfare to provide opportunity is no longer the right focus for our times.

Our strong economy gives us a real chance to create opportunity from the cradle to the grave.

Incentives? Opportunity? “Cradle to grave”? (A gold standard ALP phrase by the way.) But the papers and Greens are talking about cuts, where are the cuts? C’mon hurt them, Julia!

The old way saw a victim, the old way offered an excuse. Some today see a problem, they offer blame.

I see a person, a person who can work.

I offer only opportunity, I ask only responsibility in return.

Give a chance, take a chance.

It’s the only way it can work.

Wait… that’s it? Mutual responsibility? Oh hell. Howard would have chocked on his own spleen before talking about these ‘bludgers’ without throwing in a few heavy sticks. This has been all carrot – bloody “incentives” – and the stick is you have to be prepared to “take a chance”. Bloody hell.

Oh wait there’s more:

Australia says to those who are out of work: we believe you are entitled to the benefits of recovery and a chance to contribute to it. If you do not have the appropriate skills, we will help you get them. If you are young, we will see that you are trained. If you have been a long time out of work, we will offer you employment and training, if that is what you need. It says we will do all we can to help make you ready for a job.

Again with the training and education – it’s a bloody obsession with her!

Large numbers of long-term unemployed people demand large outlays on social security and other assistance. Furthermore, having so many people effectively disqualified from the work force reduces the efficiency of the labour market. In this recovery the complement to skill formation in the labour market is not going to come from migration. This time it has to come from training our own people, including those who are presently unemployed.

Geez, she’s all economics and number isn’t she – “efficiency of the labour market” – they’re people Julia! And more worrying about the cost of social security (it’s always about the budget isn’t it!). And again with the training!

Central to the government's strategy for getting the long-term unemployed back into work is the job compact. The job compact puts new obligations on both the government and those receiving unemployment benefits.

Sigh, more mutual responsibility.

Well except, those with long memories would realise that those parts did not come from Gillard’s speech last night, they were said by Paul Keating in Parliament on 4 May 1994 when introducing “Working Nation”.

What was the crux of his message that day?

The objective is to make long-term unemployed people ready for a job, and break forever the pattern in which the long-term unemployed become steadily more dispirited and unqualified for employment.

And that is exactly what Gillard was talking about last night. No difference: one Labor PM, talking like another Labor PM.

Now I have heard people say that Keating was all about “compassion” for the unemployed, whereas Gillard was sticking it to them (you know – she said “idleness”). But here’s the thing: in May 1994 the unemployment rate was 9.6 per cent (I know, because I was one of them). When you have an unemployment level that high, you bloody well better show them some compassion! Different language is required between the unemployment rate of 9.6 and 4.9.

We are now almost at full employment – in fact look at this graph, where we are at is historically stunning (especially given there’s just been a global recession).

image

If Gillard were to talk explicitly about “compassion” for the unemployed, her use of that word would have been as badly misreported as was her use of “idleness” – in fact worse, because I have no doubt that she does not mind the media talking about her being “tough on welfare” – such thing always plays well on talk back.

But when you look at what she was saying (and this was picked up in her interview on Radio National with Fran Kelly) she must actually be talking about spending money on unemployed – spending money training them. Fran Kelly noted this and asked about the costs, and Gillard at no stage tried to correct her and say she is talking cuts (you know all that “tough on welfare cheats” bull).

So badly misreported was her speech that Tony Abbott in a doorstop interview today was given this question by some journo who I can only presume only read the headlines and not the actual speech:

QUESTION:

On the welfare policy, would you support Labor’s proposals to cut welfare? I mean, it is a conservative approach, something [inaudible] the Coalition would go for.

Tony Abbott for once got it right when he replied:

But there are no proposals.

Last week I had a go at the media for reporting implied statements as “said”; today we’ve moved to the Government announcing policy on the basis of one word!

So perfectly did that one word do its job on the lazy media that we had this type of reporting:

Mr Abbott says he supports the Prime Minister's sentiments on welfare reform

I’d love to know if he is supporting what she said, or what it is reported that she implied.

Abbott also came out with this response:

The Liberal leader said Ms Gillard's belief in hard work and education was shared by all.

"Tell me someone who doesn't believe in hard work and the value of education."

Well it may be true that we all share a belief in hard work and education, but we sure as hell know that Tony Abbott does not see a link between education and getting people into work. How do we know this? Well in his speech a couple weeks ago on welfare not once did he mention education, or training or skills. When he mentions the need for skilled labour that was where he left it. He certainly then didn’t talk about getting Australian unemployed skilled. But what did we get? Try this:

A further measure that the government should consider is to suspend unemployment benefits for people under 30 in areas where there are shortages of unskilled labour.

No mention of the fact that those unemployed are not skilled; just a “move or get cut off the dole” solution. How wonderful.

Or how about his big positive policy:

Another important policy that the Liberal and National parties took to the election was an incentive payment for employers who hired welfare dependent people aged over 50.

Well that’s nice, but the unemployment rate for 45-54 year olds is currently 3.5 per cent and for 55-64 year olds it is 3.4  per cent. That is below the national average. The unemployment rate for 15-19 year olds? Try 22.9 per cent. For 20- 24 year olds it is 9.8 per cent. These are the people who need training, and they are also the people about whom Gillard was talking in her speech.

Now is the policy out yet? No – we must wait for the budget. But those who are leaping to attack her for mean spiritedness need to step back from the lazy headlines, and read the speech again. She may not use the word “compassion”, but her rhetoric is replete with it – unless you think wanting to improve the lot of people who can’t read and write is wrong.

And to all those who think the speech was just about the unemployed, for me the most overlooked part of the speech was this part:

If government doesn’t step back when the private sector employs more people, spends more money and builds more projects, we will be chasing the same scarce resources, driving up prices and adding to the inflationary pressures arising from the investment boom.

The time for government to step back is in this Budget.

If we defer these decisions, as the Howard Government did in the middle years of the last decade, we will make the inflationary pressures in our economy worse for millions of Australians.

As a snug middle-class welfare recipient, that last sentence gave me little chills, because when I think of Howard and inflationary pressures I think of two things – lack of infrastructure spending, and middle-class welfare. Will the budget cut that area of welfare? I have no idea, but she must be smiling to herself when she thinks that line (which is much more politically troubling) went through to the keeper, while everyone jumped over themselves to try and catch the idle dole bludgers.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another piece that is remarkable for its perspicacity and old-fashioned common-sense, attributes missing in those who who judge so harshly where they cannot see. Following on your post on poker machines, it makes your blog a must-read.
The only pity is that there are not more offerings.

Typing_Monkey said...

Frankly amazing, and thank you for this analysis.

I've been incredibly busy at work and not had time to read the transcript of the speech and relied on the media reports. When one does this, and then looks at other reports on speeches (like the remarks on the Greens) at first glance it seems that the ALP were shifting hard to the right to meet the Libs.

The realities, as you've pointed them out, are quite different.

Surely Gillard and her advisers can't have been clever enough to predict that the media, poised to run an attack, would actually fall for this kind of bait and switch?

Mr Tiedt said...

I think you're spot on that this is right out the ALP playbook - but of late the idea of getting people off welfare is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as a Coalition policy. So perhaps people are a little startled to hear Gillard talking about it.

The interesting thing will be whether are going to hear groups that provide support to disadvantaged people going nuts the way they did at all the Howard policies.

I suppose the devil will be in the detail.

Possum Comitatus said...

Hear fracking hear!

Sonia said...

I'm with you Grog. I suspect middle class welfare will be a target. Probably means testing the childcare rebate. I think in each budget since Labor got in there has been a slow eroding of these payments. Selfishly I hope they go easy. Its the only one I'm still eligible for and let me have a couple of days home with the kids. ANyway good to hear Labor talking about giving people a fairgo. It is a start contrast to Abbotts speech a couple of weeks ago

Andrew Elder said...

That's when you win: you steal the other side's rhetoric, and the other guys are left to go "hey, that's my line".

In the '80s Hawke and Keating talked about economic growth and free markets. Howard never looked like a loser so much as when he protested that these were Liberal lines.

By contrast, when Howard began talking about mateship and even referred to Aborigines in his 1998 victory speech, you know he had the wood on Labor.

Now this: Gillard has talked a Labor talk but appealed to Liberals: quite the trick, that. A few more big ones like that and Abbott will have to call another rally.

Opening up to your opponents looks like statesmanship, but plundering the other side's family jewels is pure politics.

By contrast, when PMs start playing to their base, they're finished. Keating and his "true believers" speech set the stage for decline 1993-96, Howard in 2004 got ahead of himself to the point where nobody could tell him that WorkChoices was a dopey idea.

The more the PM looks statesmanlike, the harder it is for the Opposition to block, deny, criticise.

Anonymous said...

Ha. I heard the news tonight and was pretty cross at what I thought Julia Gillard said. I now know what she really said and can calm my little self right down. She has not sold out after all.

Man versus Markets said...

By keeping it in perspective you are doing our nation a great service Grog, keep up the great work

Elen said...

Thank you. This was a real slap in my face for my contemptuous reliance on media headlines (not even articles!) to form an opinion on something. The PM was speaking of the stuff that made me a Labor true believer and I nearly missed it. How could I have forgotten what I teach my student's every day - go to the primary source!
PS Yes my middle class welfare clad boots are a-shaking too.

Jez said...

Greg, I think that you are in imminent danger of an approach from News Limited (though probably not from NOTW) with an offer of an unbelievably lucrative opinion gig ... please please don't succumb - you know that all the Murdochracy wants to do is gag you.

I thought your pokies post was your best ever - this one surpasses it. Legend, lad, legend.

mick said...

Grog, you're spot-on about this being a "traditional" Labor speech littered with Labor rhetoric, but that doesn't mean that this wasn't bad politics and terribly timed.

While much of what she said is effectively Labor policy, she chose to make this speech in light of Abbott's recent comments on the issue. This makes the PM look like she is following the policy advice of the Opposition, and the resulting debate is framed in the terms which Abbott established. They have elevated Abbott's standing on this issue (ie they have let it become an issue) and Gillard cannot beat Abbott on the right on this issue, so why engage?

Whoever is advising the PM needs to be dumped. The ALP is fighting too many fights at the moment. If they wanted to deflect Abbott's "attacks" (which were weak in the first place) they could have done almost anything else, or just ignored him.

The PM seems to be obsessed with reassuring voters that the ALP right is not so far removed from the Libs, why do they think this is a good policy. All the discussion in the speech on traditional Labor values is lost because the framing was wrong in the first place.

arcadiagt5 said...

Well put.

Markjs said...

Greg....Your piece on gambling yesterday was one of the saddest articles I've read in a long time. Thank you for it....and your unflinching honesty regarding your own experiences working in a casino.

Again, thank you for today's offering ...it's really hard to understand how the MSM and Their ABC has degenerated into the sorry and dishonest state we now see every day...We need an urgent public enquiry into the National Broadcaster....

@AndySHastings said...

You're right about the 'welfare' rhetoric, there really wasn't much in there comparable to what Abbott had to say last week.

All of the PM's comments about the benefits of work ring true. What was frustrating for me about the speech is the continued focus (since Hawke/Keating) on employability rather than employment.

Her quotes from Curtin and Chifley offered the strongest evidence of cognitive dissonance from the Labor party; Curtin and Chifley created full employment (less than 2% unemployed) which lasted for 30 years after the end of the War.

The Feds are really the only body with the capacity to actually make sure everyone who wants a job can have one. Curtin and Chifley made it happen, such that the longest span of conservative government in this country didn't dare let unemployment rise for fear of the electoral backlash. Gillard talks the talk, but she will never walk the walk.

(P.S. Bill Mitchell has a good analysis of this aspect of the speech and of unemployment in general at http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=14161 )

skip said...

This is one of your worst ever posts. On what possible understanding of Australian political history is Keating representative of "traditional Labor" in the same way as Chifley?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Gamut, you have expressed perfectly what has been pissing me off all day - the wilful misreading of the speech by not only the usual commentators, but people who should know better.

skip said...

By the way, if you're really wondering where the alleged beatup on dole bludgers was, perhaps you should look at the part where she accused them of committing an injustice against taxpayers, said that "it's not right to leave people on welfare", and said that they must "pull their own weight". I don't really need to explain why this is not the traditional worker's movement understanding of unemployment, do I?

Diogenes said...

Grog

Which one is true?

1. It was a Howard-like dog whistle.

or

2. Gillard has such an abysmal political antenna that she didn't realise it would be reported this way.

It has to be one or the other.

Anonymous said...

Missed a few lines, Grog:

"And every Australian should pull his or her own weight."

"It’s not fair for taxpayers to pay for someone who can support themselves."

“the Government will put improving work incentives in our tax and transfer system”

"If government doesn’t step back when the private sector employs more people, spends more money and builds more projects, we will be chasing the same scarce resources, driving up prices and adding to the inflationary pressures arising from the investment boom.

The time for government to step back is in this Budget."

"This is our record.

Extensive welfare reform.

Income management, improving school enrolment and attendance, tighter eligibility and smarter employment services for adults with some disability. "

"And I am extending this campaign of high expectations to welfare as well. "

Two things both of you forgot to mention: Underemployment, and indexing unemployment to wages rather than CPI, i.e. our criminally low unemployment benefits and its subsequent driving of people to DSP.

Indeed, people have taken what they wanted from the speech.

There's a different angle here: http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=14161

Anonymous said...

Mr.Jericho I would really like to eavesdrop on a conversation between you and Bill Mitchell [billy blog] who is linked to by @AndySHastings above.
Same cool analysis, same factual input, but - different conclusions.
I take your point about the skim reading and misinterpretation by the MSM of Julia's speech but Mitchell, like you, goes beyond that and, as far as I can see, comes to conclusions vastly different.
Worth a read.

fred

Anonymous said...

Well said Grog. So basically, it doesn't matter what the PM says the media will report what they want.

And when it becomes obvious on budget night that the media have been talking out of their collective bottoms re: welfare, they will accuse her of a backflip and lack of ticker.

imacca

jez said...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you and Andrew Elder keep me from (metaphorically) slitting my wrists - so thanks to both of you for that small service.

Senexx said...

@AndySHastings

Thanks for making my points for me. My rhetoric was a bit more emotional especially concerning underemployment.

Sadly Grog has fallen for the mythical NAIRU and the monetarism of the 80s. Additionally I share Skip's concern for Grog about Keating. Except for his Immigration & Aboriginal bent, he was little more than another Howard but before Howard. "Get a job, ya bum." No concept of unemployment whatsoever.

Seems I used some emotional rhetoric after all, not nearly as emotional as the first draft though.

Greg Jericho said...

Anon yep those lines are much of the same - mutual obligation stuff:

“the Government will put improving work incentives in our tax and transfer system”

is about cuts only if you want to read it is about cuts - which the media and many others did. Now I will not actually be surprised if there are some changes to the welfare payments (in fact it is pretty obvious there will be) - mostly I suspect of the you need to do this to get this variety - however the speech did not talk punish, but it was reported as such.

Let's not put on the rose coloured glasses and think the ALP back in the past was some glorious party of welfare - hell PJK abused the uni protestors in Adelaide by telling them to "get a job".

This was an ALP speech. Whenever the an ALP leader mentions welfare and doesn't come across like Mother Theresa they get accused of turning their back on ALP values. Well they've been accused of doing that for as long as I can remember.

Sonia, we too can only get the childcare rebate and I also think it will probably be means tested. The only thing that has me thinking they won't is that one move would be VERY unpopular - in fact I think about the most unpopular cut in middle-class welfare they could make - it was a big thing of theirs in 2007.

Actually Senexx and AndySHastings, I haven't fallen for NAIRU at all - I just pointed out in historical terms, we ain't going much lower. The world of Chifley and Curtain was a much different place - we're not going back there (and nor do I suspect we would want to - esp when you think of the working entitlements at that time).

Fred - Bill Mitchell is always worth a read.

Mick you may be right about it looking like Gillard was following Abbott, but I thought it interesting how the journos were trying to get him to agree with her!

Greg Jericho said...

Dio - the dog whistle term is greatly over used, and wrongly used. Mostly what we get here (and now in the US) is not dog whistling, but "whistling". JG throws in idleness and "everyone needs to pay their way", and boom off goes the media.

That's not dog whistling, that's leading the media around by the nose (and geez, it is easy to do).

My point is when you read the speech entire, there's a lot more going on.

Now sure she needs to back up what she's saying with policy but listen to the Fran Kelly interview - there's no whistling going on at all there, no "tough to be kind" Abbott type bulldust. She talks about kids who are uneducated and need training. Now I know Bill Mitchell may say there are not many of them, but nonetheless that's what she is talking about.

My point here is not that the Govt won't cut welfare in some way (I bet they will - I bet there will be many areas that get some cuts), but that there was a lot more happening in this speech than what was reported.

If JG truly wants to back up this speech with policy, the Govt cannot just cut welfare, there also needs to be assistance.

We'll see in 3 weeks. If it is all cuts I'll bag them then. But unlike the media, I'll wait till I see the actual policy before deciding whether or not it is "tough on welfare cheats"

Diogenes said...

Grog

Even more of a concern is your lack of progress in your books. You've had Germinal up there for ages! It's the only Zola book I've read although I've got La Bete Humaine on the shelf. Germinal is a great book.

lapuntadelfin said...

Calling BS on you here Grogs. No-one underestimates the power of a catchphrase in a speech and both you and Gillard ignore that the SI speech exists not in isolation but in context. JG knows context. She is building it. And there are more speeches to come.

Observers like yourself and Possum have only spoken about the speech in isolation citing precise words, asking for criticism, yet ignore the ongoing narrative which is so right wing, so punishing that words escape me.

Dog whistling indeed.

No hands down helping up, as Keating was smart enough to demonstrate physically. Gillard can't do that because the times do not suit her. It's a hit in the solar plexus for some. And it could have been handled better.

The vision thing? Those times have passed, say some. Notably Possum

I call BS on both of you.

Analysis is not of one one speech but a building narrative. A preparation for the the next speech, if you like.

And I agree the proof will be in the pudding. Bloody long pudding with a longer than ever thought of lead time. I hope she delivers but I just cant see it.

Whether this speech was a leak of sorts, a softener so that JG can appear humane come budget delivery, I don't know.

There ain't no vision, never has been and I suspect never will be. A sop to the right.

Which makes a piss poor speech and deserves no defence.

The fact that Abbott called her all talk and no action scares the living shit out of me.

That one statement resonates more than 3500 words and that is how it will be reported.

Gillard knows that. If she didn't she should

Patricia WA said...

Thanks for the breakdown, Grog, and for the reassurance that I was listening to the same speech as yourself, and presumably the same speech that journos are commenting on. And the very same speech that people working with the disabled and their carers heard before they commented 'on camera' with such concern, even fear, for the future of those unwillingly on welfare - or had they been fed loaded questions?

I don't know if JG is trying to steal the Coalition's clothes, but Abbott sounded very hollow as he protested that he had made the same speech earlier, only he has real policies, JG hasn't. Well, we'll see.

As others have pointed out it's astonishing how selectively some people, and journalists in particular, listen to speeches like that. They hear what they want to hear and then write the commentary they already had in mind before they heard it.

An aside - apart from PM Julia Gillard being the kind of Labor leader I can recognise from over a half century ago I see her developing a very warm, even maternal, image. Anyone noticed how comfortable she is around kids and easy among people generally?

Anonymous said...

I've been in and out of the welfare system for twenty years and I can tell when the Powers that Be are getting ready to tighten the screw. People on disability pensions are going to be in for a lashing.

Keep an eye on the suicide rate around budget time.

Anonymous said...

Hi grog, first I must admit I enjoy listening to the PM's speeches, so I watched her on News24. So when I read the next days news headlines, I didn't bother reading the articles.
Her speech was a continuation of her themes education, skills training and dignity that work offers.
At one stage she talked about meeting someone from her electorate, who was a flyin flyout employee in WA.This person was a skilled employee. She linked his story with that of unemployed youth in WA and stated, that the question was how to train the youth unemployed so that they would have the same skills and therefore the opportunity to apply for these jobs.
The PM was not about putting people down, not about bullying, not about labels.
So we will just have to see what is in the budget.

Anonymous said...

The only reference I had heard to Gillards speech yesterday was the TV news and ABC radio, and I hung my head in shame that Gillard would head down that path. Thanks Grog for setting the record straight ;)

Tom R

Jaeger said...

I don't suppose there will be any money in the budget to teach journalists English comprehension? Too many dog whistlers, and not enough whistle blowers.

thirdborn said...

Well done Grog, glad I was not the the only one who heard a different speech to what was reported. I was enthused by it but then saw all the headlines - I began to second guess my own political persuasion. There was nothing in the speech I was worried about, it was consistent with all other speeches from Gillard on the topic.

Peter Whiteford said...

Joblessness - not having paid employment - is the largest single factor contributing to poverty among people of working age, and is also one of the major factors contributing to the level of inequality in Australia.

Increasing employment is therefore one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty and inequality in Australia.

Now you can get more people in jobs in regressive ways (think welfare reform in the USA) but you can also get more people in jobs in progressive ways - think Denmark.

Let's wait and see what the specific proposals are.

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

The thing that distressed me most about the reporting of this speech was the vitriolic attack, similar to that of lapuntadelfin here, from the Naysayers of the Left, who appear to be getting even more caustic in their assessment of the PM than those from the Right, who will always find an angle to attack the ALP government from. They are such fools I think because they are helping to do the Right's job for them and they are too blinkered in their idealism for some glorious ALP past, which never really existed, but which tends to coagulate around the supposed Whitlam glory years, to see that an ALP government, "Is not the party of Welfare, but the party of work". As it always has been.
You wouuldn't believe the storm of invective I, and the PM who I was defending, copped on Twitter yesterday after this speech became public news. And yes, most of it came from the Left. Jeremy Sear was especially scathing, though Bernard Keane and David Paris made a feeble attempt at humiliating me as well. All I was doing was what you have done, except in 140 characters or less, so as to not let the horse bolt on the true nature of the speech.
Frankly, I think some of these Twitter habitues, who seem to have all day to Tweet, are exactly the 'idle' that the PM wishes to target. And they are squealing like stuck pigs, as a result. Well, I am one of the people the PM would like to help get a job, over 50(not much!), out of the workforce for >10 years, and lacking new skills, so I just hope that she means it and means well when she intimates that she wants to help people like me get a job and a bit of dignity back. Because I sure as hell know the bitter taste of rejection that comes with applying for job after job in your chosen field of endeavour, and being told you are too expensive to employ because you are an adult with a degree and the accountant has advised against it.

Johncanberra said...

We will have to wait and see as to how Julia Gillard's rhetoric/language translates into action at Budget time. I am all in favour of mutual responsibility and more education but it is how you implement that with the most vulnerable in society that is the key. Labor does not have a good record in this regard. They were the ones who introduced 'breeching' for people on benefits who did not turn up for appointments, and the penalties were loss of benefits for a number of weeks, which was excessive. (Nothing wrong with penalties per se but the size of them for someone on a very low income was unbelievable). Gillard's speech was better than Abbott's but it was condescending at points and it mostly only recognised paid work as a contribution towards the community. There was no talk of equipping those on benefits for unpaid caring and voluntary roles. There was the statement that 'We know that not everyone on a welfare benefit can work.
Some bear disabilities or caring responsibilities that mean paid work is impossible. These Australians deserve our greatest respect and ongoing support'.
I suspect the ongoing support means ongoing benefits only, and does not mean support for fuller participation in the life of their community.
There was also reference by Gillard to the enormous financial disincentive to paid work that arises from the structure of our benefits system. But I will be very surprised if anything significant happens on that in this budget.
So until we see the new programs, I will reserve judgement as to whether Gillard is just Howard-lite in this speech.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Professor Whiteford could describe the Danish system for us or alternatively provide a link to an informative website.

Bongo said...

Thanks for that, Grog.

I'm with you Grog. I suspect middle class welfare will be a target.

About bloody time. Possibly Howard's worst political, economic and social legacy, the legitimisation and extension of middle class welfare (ie vote buying).

“the Government will put improving work incentives in our tax and transfer system”

is about cuts only if you want to read it is about cuts - which the media and many others did.


Exactly. It could also have been referring to changes that reduce the huge tax-welfare hurdle that recipients face when trying to move off welfare. Let's wait and see, shall we?

I've been in and out of the welfare system for twenty years and I can tell when the Powers that Be are getting ready to tighten the screw. People on disability pensions are going to be in for a lashing.

This is the real danger.

Increasing employment is therefore one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty and inequality in Australia.

For those who can realistically work.

I am all in favour of mutual responsibility and more education but it is how you implement that with the most vulnerable in society that is the key. Labor does not have a good record in this regard.

Well said. They have some serious baggage here.

There was the statement that "We know that not everyone on a welfare benefit can work. Some bear disabilities or caring responsibilities that mean paid work is impossible."

Good catch. Does that mean the disabled will be required to at least do some unpaid work?

Peter Whiteford said...

Those interested in the Danish model should google "flexicurity"

This is a reasonable summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexicurity

Steve. said...

I only just found your blog. I love it, and will be a regular reader. I'd like to how you find the time to provide such well-researched comment - I'd love to be able to find the time to do this! But, for now, I'll use your insight as a means to further my own research on current events and affairs.

I'd also like to know why some newspaper editor has not employed some of your work; but, on reflection, I already know the answer to that.

Thank you.

Mark Bahnisch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

I just wanted to apologise for the personalised comment at the end of my post linking to this one. I'm sorry, I was very angry about this whole issue, but I ought not to have got personal. I'm deleting that portion of the post.

- Kim from LP

Greg Jericho said...

Thanks Kim

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for all your insight. I am a support worker with homeless families and most people rely on welfare payments to survive. we have another team that is part of the government's Participate in Prosperity program ( not sure if this Qld. or C'wealth) but these programs promote, education, training or employment in a very hands on way. They can transport people, support them to get ID, enrol in TAFE, get children into childcare etc. all which contribute to employment. Its so amazing to see people get lifted u and be able to participate in society in a different way other than being welfare recipients. Work, education, training are so valuable to people, they build us, involve us in life. My sister just sent me this blog bc I was getting so sick of everyone just randomly criticising this government for what I felt was no good reason, just picking up on 'the vibe'. I am so sick of it!
cheers for your time on this great project you have going here.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! That'll learn me to rely on what mainstream media says. You are a freaking legend Grog :)

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