Home Roland Rocchiccioli THERE are those salutary moments when one stops in an effort to...

THERE are those salutary moments when one stops in an effort to take stock

1923
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THERE are those salutary moments when one stops in an effort to take stock; to make sense of the world in which we live. Sometimes the reality seems so disturbingly distorted, one wonders where it will lead, and how it will end.

Technology has altered, irrevocably, the way we live our lives, indeed, how we communicate with each. In the days of yore, the writing of this column would have been done on a typewriter – manually in the early days, and electric – with proportional spacing – in recent years. The best journalists would have done it in one draft and with no alterations; and certainly no spelling errors or grammatical solecisms. The computer has transformed everything. One is able to cut-and-paste, and shape and alter at the press of a button – or a key! I am not certain the standard of writing is better or worse for all that. I suspect the latter in many cases.

Indisputably, globalisation has created a less-caring ethos.

Achievement is measured financially. The more money you accumulate the greater your perceived success; your capacity to perform your job; and your societal worth.

I was, momentarily, stunned when I read that Tony Abbott’s “razor gang” considered banning anyone under 30 from accessing income support in a radical proposal ahead of the 2014 budget, according to cabinet documents obtained by the ABC.The expenditure review committee was made up of then-prime minister Mr Abbott, then-treasurer, Joe Hockey, and current Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann.

It requested then-social services minister, Kevin Andrews, look at how to ban “job snobs” from receiving the welfare payments.In one document marked “protected”, “sensitive” and “cabinet-in-confidence”, Mr Andrews proposed three options to permanently or temporarily halt income support From the desk of……….for job seekers under 30.

It included cutting off under-30s entirely, cutting off under30s in areas with employment opportunities, and limiting income support to young people with a work history.

There was also an option to roll out an income-managed basics card to “lessen the harshness of the measure”.

The most extreme proposal would have saved the federal government nearly $9 billion over four-years. However, Mr Andrews, a strong factional ally of Mr Abbott, also anticipated a backlash. The documents reveal he may have been responsible for killing off the plan. In a draft letter to Mr Abbott and copied to then-employment minister, Eric Abetz, and then-human services minister, Marise Payne, Mr Andrews expressed “significant concerns” about the razor gang’s request: “This is a fundamental change to Australia’s universal social security system. It is not clear that there is a strong evidence base for this approach,” he wrote in the attached proposal: “Young people in financial hardship could experience homelessness, be driven to crime and other antisocial behaviour, family breakdown and possible criminal flow-on, resulting from removing the social security safety net.” He noted that there was already a crackdown on youth welfare factored into the 2014 budget, and suggested any further changes be part of a broader review of welfare.

In a statement provided to the ABC, Mr Abbott said: “While I never comment on the deliberations of cabinet, the 2014 budget was an attempt to make serious structural reforms to lift our nation’s productivity.” That sounds like more platitudinous gobbledegook, and a typical obfuscation.

Senator Abetz also responded by saying the Abbott government “was right to consider all options. I was pleased at the time that it reached a sensible landing to not pursue these reforms.” He further added: “The Coalition Government was and is eager to ensure that we don’t set up young Australians for a lifetime of welfare and in order to find a sensible way forward, of course governments should at least look at all options.” Senator Cormann and Senator Payne declined to comment. I wonder why? In 2013, then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said he was entitled to bill taxpayers more than $1000 in travel and accommodation costs to compete in the Port Macquarie Ironman, as he also attended other community events in the marginal electorate during the 2011 visit.

In 2013, Mr Abbott’s spokeswoman confirmed the Prime Minister had repaid the $1095 cost of travelling to Sophie Mirabella’s 2006 wedding “in the last few days”.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed more than $600 of taxpayer money to attend Peter Slipper’s wedding in 2006 a claim he reimbursed. Speaking to reporters in Bali, Mr Abbott mentioned discovering that he had billed taxpayers for a “couple” of weddings.

In October 2016, it was reported that Joe Hockey, Australia’s Ambassador to the US, had charged taxpayers thousands of dollars for babysitters to watch his children while he wines and dines VIPs in Washington. Despite already collecting an estimated $360,000 salary and also double-dipping into his $90,000-a-year pension Mr Hockey billed taxpayers almost $2500 for child minding during the first five-months in his new role.Documents obtained by Fairfax Media under freedom of information laws show the former federal treasurer who once declared that the “age of entitlement” was over is drawing on his entertainment budget five or six times a month to hire people to look after his three children.

I am neither surprised nor disappointed. This is the same man who told Australia: ‘The poorest people either don’t have cars, or actually don’t drive very far in many cases.’ He was wrong, and apologised! I have no objection to his first class travel, and all the other expenses, but like the rest of Australia’s households, he can pay his own baby-sitting costs! That is what parents do.

Roland can be heard each MONDAY morning on 3BA at 10.30.

Contact: rolandroc@bigpond.com

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