Raise the Newstart payment
Rick Morton (“Newstart: the human cost of Morrison’s plan”, September 14-20) details the damage done to selected Newstart recipients through the introduction of the cashless credit card. Great harm is also done by the complete inadequacy of the payment. All this harm from the political party that claims to have financial skills. The policy cannot be to do with creating the “sacred surplus”, because spending uselessly abounds on projects the government fancies. For example, the cruel treatment of the Biloela family must be costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ignoring the cost of unjustified franking credits wastes more money but secures votes. If the Newstart payment was raised substantially, people receiving it might be ready for the limited job opportunities available. The money would be spent in the community and boost local economies. The reason this is not done is not economic but rather a vicious determination to punish those who do not fit the ultra right-wing pattern.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
A Canadian perspective
Interesting article about your social services in Australia. Our provincial governments here in Canada have tried to stigmatise our native people with the same thing, as well as make the assumption that all welfare recipients are drug addicts, alcoholics, lazy et cetera. A lot of the system overload is due to an open immigration process. When people come to Canada our government gives them a home and welfare, while Canadians who are poor, disabled, or unemployed get told to suck it up. No system is perfect. You were able to be very candid about how your government spends huge amounts of money to administer these cashless debit cards for people on social assistance. I wish our government was as accessible for information about how much these programs actually cost. The money spent on these so-called better programs could be used to actually help people. Thanks to Rick Morton for the great work on this article.
– Sarah Clarkson, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada
The suffering of asylum seekers
Shaminda Kanapathi, please be assured that the inhumanity and wilful cruelty to which this Australian government subjects asylum seekers and refugees is not acceptable or condoned by anyone in the country paying attention to history or decency (“What lies offshore”, September 14-20). The legendary Frank Zappa spoke of “secular humanity” as a guide to living well. “Do no harm” is another. Increasingly, the separation of church and state appears to be shrivelling at the behest of our existing government, whose MPs appear to see the rights and power of the Christian religion fading. Bring on the ill-named “religious freedom bill”, which seeks to ensure no economic disadvantage for perceived discrimination against others. The passion of our prime minister’s belief is obvious. It extends to having a policy of praying for rain in a drought and bushfire-ravaged country. Adopting a proactive policy to deal with climate change not so much. Please keep writing so powerfully, Shaminda.
– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW
Prayer is not the answer
Your editorial (“Warming to prayer”, September 14-20) was brilliant; indeed, the second half needs to be engraved in stone. The federal government’s position on climate and energy is certainly ideological and has no basis in science. Two ministers, in particular, who should be setting us on the right path – Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor, and Resources Minister Matt Canavan – are instead taking us in a diametrically opposite direction. Taylor was instrumental in helping Tony Abbott reduce the 2020 renewable energy target from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh. As for Canavan, he is unrelenting in his pursuit of coal. The prime minister’s prayer for rain is not an alternative to rational, comprehensive and science-based climate and energy policy. Prayers for the people, on the other hand, not least those affected by drought and bushfire that have been exacerbated by climate change, would appear to be warranted.
– Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
Fiscal reality and the Reserve Bank
Central banks were once celebrated for “taking away the punchbowl” from spendthrift governments, but as Mike Seccombe reveals (“Lowe tidings”, September 14-20) central bank independence – in operations and opinions – has an ugly obverse when a government loses its thirst for activist policy. The operational separation of interest-rate setting from federal government spending is a convenient fiction; in practice, the Reserve Bank will always clear any purchase the federal government makes. It ties Ulysses to the mast with a granny knot. The real lure of central bank independence – until Governor Lowe’s recent interventions – was in giving federal governments rhetorical cover to abandon full employment and to sap consumer spending with reckless surpluses. By breaking the unspoken agreement on a rhetorically independent Reserve Bank, Lowe has given Treasurer Josh Frydenberg licence to blame the bank for the nation’s flagging economy. In reality, Frydenberg could restore full employment tomorrow; Lowe needs only to concede that, operationally, the government has had a “licence to print money”, all along.
– Daniel De Voss, Fitzgibbon, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 21, 2019. Subscribe here.