Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dole, Macklin and Silliness.

Jenny Macklin (2005). [A]
Federal Families minister, Jenny Macklin (Labor), started the year with the wrong foot.

Hosting a doorstop press conference, an attending journalist insisted on asking Macklin whether she (i.e. Macklin) could live on the dole.

The issue of the low dole rate has been around for a while and has inspired many posts in this blog since at least 2011 (see here); it resurfaces again, as the Gillard government decided to take away some extras given to single-parent families with kids (some 80,000 families), leaving them now on the dole, pure and simple. You know, they need to show their "economic management" credentials and what better way than whipping those on the dole?

John Quiggin summarizes the facts of the press conference very well and links to the video:
"Could Jenny Macklin live on the dole?
"She says 'I could', but you watch the video, Jenny Macklin's answer here is very odd. She ducks the question once, has it put again, and is asked 'Could you live on the dole'. She says 'I could', without any elaboration then goes straight back to spin. Her office then tries to delete it from the transcript".

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This was enough to start another of those surreal debates Australians need to put up with every now and then.

Dan Harrison, writing for Fairfax Media, notices that the transcript offered by the Families Department omits the relevant passages. Very suspicious.

Brigid Delaney, who once was on the dole, writes an op-ed asking Macklin her secret to live on AUD35 a week. Very ironic.

The Australian Council of Social Services chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, said "the changes would leave vulnerable people - the majority of them women - between $60 and $110 a week worse off". Very moving.

Acting Greens leader, Adam Bandt, challenged Macklin to live on the dole for one week, presumably so that she can learn the reality of living on AUD35 a day, as Greens senator Rachel Siewert did last April. Very challenging.

Radical contrarian federal opposition leader, Tony Abbott, the man who never loses a TV opportunity to denounce the ineptitude of the Labor government, is declared MIA. Very silent.

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People, let's be clear on something: Macklin answered "I could" because it was the first thing that crossed her mind, not necessarily because she believes it. This would explain the oddness Quiggin noticed: she just wanted the journalist to stop pestering her and that was the way she found.

You know, answering "I don't care", "I don't give a shit" would probably be more accurate, but it sure sounds worse.

Now, if you are among the 80,000 families downgraded, or among the dole bludgers, remember this when voting.

Image Credits:
[A] "Jenny Macklin, Australian Labor Party MP and government minister", by w:en:User:Adam Carr. Wikipedia.

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