January 21, 2014

Welfare Reform: It’s All Greek To Me

In today’s news, Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, compared Australia to European countries in recession, saying the country risked the same fate if welfare was not reformed.  

Worst case scenario is Greece, with an unemployment rate, currently at  27.3 per cent. Can we compare this to Australia’s 5.8 per cent?

And what’s wrong with Greece anyway? To get an idea, read this snapshot from the life of a regular Greek "unemployed employee".   

All roads leading to Greece

Not long ago, my two gainfully employed sisters flew to the Greek Island of Skopelos for a week, to celebrate a cousin’s fiftieth shindig.

Of course, I got an invite, but due to personal austerity measures, I naturally remained home and hosed, in the lucky country.

But the dog was pleased with that. We occupied ourselves with darning socks, and watching the Mamma Mia DVD (filmed on Skopelos), while eating canned dolmades.

Unfortunately, this  activity soon ended in tears and nausea, when Pierce Brosnan sung the lyrics to Abba's “S.O.S”. 

To stop the dog and myself from howling, a less depressing DVD was chosen  .....I so digress.

Returning to the lucky country

Meantime, our Social Services Minister’s announcements have got me worried. 

What’s to become of we surplus Australian unemployables, once he’s compiled, studied, and implemented the strategies resulting from his review into Australian welfare reform.

Completion is due in February.

I think it's time to fast-track my panic room refurbishments.

If welfare reform means extinguishing our Australian citizenship, and making us into nasty boat people, and sailing us off to PNG - then just do it(!) Kevin.  Or why not just behead us - particularly the boring ageing unemployables?! That's one way of managing the so-called  "ageing crisis" .

Be very scared people.

And if reform means further participation in endless job skills/readiness classes (the sole, cynical, unimaginative modus operandi of the Job Network) designed to drive us insane until we do get a job – I am definitely off to Greece next week. I bet their austerity measures are better than Kevin’s.

At least in Greece, I’d be part of a growing majority of unemployables. There’s lots to be said for safety in numbers. Which is preferable to being part of the annoying (5.8%) minority group, in sunny Australia – where (regardless of its supposed egalitarian image) being unemployed can be viewed as equivalent to being a social parasite, “job-snob”, and lazy dolebludger.  

And in Australia,  it can more often than not, be a cruel case of Catch-22, when you discover that the longer you are out of a job, the harder it is to get back in – with many potential employers looking suspiciously at anyone who shows an  "unemployment gap"  in their work history. 

Maybe on the Greek  Island of Skyros, I can find myself a desperate and dateless Greek sugar daddy, that I can shack up with.

Perhaps there’s a place on that quiet isle, for a displaced cinquagenarian librarian.  I wonder if Greece has online RSVP dating? Or, perhaps due to austerity measures, their internet’s been cut off, like Cuba? (must Fact Check). But there’s always snail mail.

But soon, the postman may only visit thrice.

Back in Oz, coinciding with the welfare reform news, Australia Post has announced the possibility of reducing snail mail delivery, from daily to thrice weekly.

Added to this, are suggestions that charges are to be introduced,  for the provision of a service that’s currently free (except for franking costs of course). What?!

So with this in mind, here, as an avid unemployment “consumer” - I hereby provide an elegant solution, for dealing with Australia’s surplus unemployables (along with its surplus mail).

It would involve an easily set-up partnership between Australia's Department of Unemployment, and Australia's snail mail delivery service, Australia Post. A service, which CEO Ahmer Fahour says is unsustainable. Well of of course it is on your salary Ahmer! ...which at the last count was $4.8 million ...?!!

The business plan is obvious. 

And it's very Greek.

Able-bodied unemployees can be recruited by Australia Post, to hand-deliver the very mail, that cashed-up Ahmer Fahour refuses to deliver. 

Unemployees can be assigned to deliver in the area they live in. One block per unemployee.  And even more blocks for the uber-fit. (Similar to the way Neighbourhood Watch newsletters are delivered in my local municipality). At the last count it was 20 newsletters per volunteer.

I thinks it’s a beautiful solution. The unemployables would get to know the neighbours. The neighbours would get to know who - in their street - is unemployed. Lovely! 

Concurrently, with all the letterbox deliveries (on foot) our nation's, and my(?) supposed obesity problem could be solved. 

And the Biggest Loser program would have to be axed! Brilliant. 

Actually, I wouldn’t mind working for the dole at my local post office. I see it as win win.

Post Master Ahmer and Kevin, I hope you are reading this. I can start today.

You know where to find me.


  1. Laughing is just so important in a welfare climate like ours. I always laugh out loud to your posts.

    Apparently people are happier and healthier on Sardinia one of the Blue Zones in the world.

    I do like your idea of people on the dole working for the post office. Just to add to it, those nasty ageing unemployables could be the first to hand deliver the mail (walking of course) unless they have their own mobility scooters. They'll fall off the perch in no time and save the government a whole bunch of Moo-lah. Won't live long enough to reach pension age, and not more Newstart hand outs. We could get Gerry Harvey on board, to make adverts because he is such a generous individual. Let me quote some of Gerry's remarkable comments. Harvey Norman founder thinks donating to charity is "just wasted". Asked in a new book about the role he and Harvey Norman play in the community, Mr Harvey said giving money to people who "are not putting anything back into the community" is like "helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason". "You could go out and give a million dollars to a charity tomorrow to help the homeless. You could argue that it is just wasted. They are not putting anything back into the community. "It might be a callous way of putting it but what are they doing? You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community.

    "So did that million you gave them help? It helped to keep them alive but did it help our society? No. Society might have been better off without them but we are supposed to look after the disadvantaged and so we do it. But it doesn't help the society."

    And of course Gerry has done so much for the society and the community hasn't he. Sales going along well at Harvey Norman Gerry?. Who is Harvey Norman anyway?, some homeless person you killed off with your kindness.

    1. Great comment. Gerry Harvey's tantrums over the unfairness of losing sales - because of annoying people who shop online - has shown there's a lot that he "doesn't get". So those comments he's made don't surprise me. I do remember over a decade ago, in an interview, he stated proudly that he never hired anyone over 25.