The working poor, and poor in Australia are voiceless. There seems no political will to enable these people to find the security and dignity you would expect in a prosperous first world country such as Australia. It begs the question why the nice and good people of Australia are content to let these unfortunates, usually due to circumstances outside of their control, to remain denigrated within our borders.
My hat is off, my head is bowed to the likes of the now deceased Elizabeth Wynhausen who wrote her remarkable and compelling book ‘Dirt Cheap’ who subjected herself to working for minimum wages for a year and gives an account of her experiences. This book followed after Barbara Ehrenreich’s best-selling Nickle and Dimed endured a similar scenario in the US.
Wynhausen writes, “In a nation that had the highest rate of social mobility in the world 30 years ago, geography is destiny for many of the children growing up in such neighbourhoods. Excluded from the benefits of a boom that saw real incomes rise 21 per cent between 1994-95 and 2003-04, they may have less chance than their parents of escaping from suburbs mired in poverty. Yet an issue that goes to the heart of the way in which we think of ourselves no longer has much traction in politics, except when filtered through punitive welfare reforms.”
A family, a community, a country can be judged primarily by how they treat the most vulnerable within their midst. This speaks volumes about the sort of people they are, it speaks volumes about the sort of people we Australians are. It also clarifies why the likes of Christopher Pyne is in politics at all and why he can push to entrench the disadvantage of others which is so removed from his own smug and privileged circumstances.