Letters to
the editor

Paying the job network

It was interesting to read the article about the push to increase the Newstart allowance at long last (Mike Seccombe, “Newstart: Thaw in senate may end 25-year freeze”, July 27-August 2). Even John Howard and Barnaby Joyce think it is a good idea. Of course the government mantra is it will cost millions, some say billions, of extra dollars on the welfare budget. This is true but I would say probably the largest portion would go to job network providers, which are supposedly there to help the unemployed but this is not always the case. To start with they get a payment from the government for every person on their books. Logic says that if they are to make a profit it benefits them if you are unemployed for a long time. For the provider to earn their money the person must come in to their office to look for work (that’s one payment), attend workshops (another payment), and the provider gets another payment if you find a job even if it wasn’t through them. Sounds good, but you cannot use the internet to look for work as their computers are linked to employment sites they own, their workshops are useless and most employers won’t accept anything from them. When on the dole I was regularly told that I had been flagged by Centrelink to go to a job network provider, and although I never got a letter from them of attendance, they had been paid. There have been many cases of fraud and corruption by these companies and any review should also audit them.

– Paul Bailey, Winmalee, NSW

No votes from Newstart

Isn’t it typical? The surplus was proclaimed by Josh Frydenberg to kick off the election even though the budget was not “in the black”. Now it is reported the Morrison government killed off a bipartisan recommendation to increase Newstart on the eve of the election. The surplus for 2019-20 has to be protected come hell or high water. No votes from the Newstart cohort, I’m afraid. Compare the alacrity with which they lowered the deeming rates for pensioners who are government’s core electoral demographic (Mike Seccombe, “How seniors became our most fierce lobby”, July 20-26). Mature age groups who have substantial assets have little to fear. They will continue to receive refunds from franking credits after paying no tax. The bountiful negative-gearing scheme remains, ensuring multi-property buying continues unabated. It’s a familiar pattern. First-home buyers are once more shunted to the margins of the housing market.

– Frank Carroll, Moorooka, Qld

The New Zealand option

Despite Peter Dutton’s constant fearmongering these are the facts: refugees and asylum seekers make up only 3 per cent of our total migrant intake (Nick McKim, “Inhumanity studies”, July 27-August 2). Certainly not an invasion by hordes of people. No asylum seeker who arrived by boat has ever been found to be a direct threat to Australia’s national security even though they are subjected to intense security checks. Since the federal election 11 weeks ago there have been 90 acts of self-harm and attempted suicide. There are still approximately 370 people on Manus and 260 people on Nauru held in Australia’s offshore detention centres. The New Zealand government is showing humanity, unlike our government, in allowing the asylum seekers to settle there.

– Sue Cory, Edge Hill, Qld

Flawed education model

Universities, ostensibly institutions set up to train people to think, were consequently best organised along somewhat anarchic lines. Yes, there were hierarchies, as indicated by the names given to various “senior” people within the institutions, such as master, dean and chancellor. However, these people weren’t entitled to interfere with the project of freedom of thought nor the modus operandi of disciplines. They could engage in the academic debate, given something useful or profound to say, but not much else. Through the imposition of rules and increasing levels of bureaucracy, coupled with contradictory imperatives such as having increasing numbers of students while cutting funding, onerous reporting arrangements, the madness of student evaluations of teaching and so forth, universities of the somewhat ideal model suggested above no longer exist. So, when I read the account by Anonymous (“Academic casualties”, July 27-August 2) about the penury and overwork that is the lot of casual academics, I was not surprised. Casualisation is a means of hierarchical (over)reach and control. It is also one of many causes of the destruction of what were once universities.

– Peter Slade, Beerwah, Qld

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 2, 2019.

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