Meg Pickup, Ballina
New Year’s Day 2019, SBS reported the prime minister as saying, ‘We aren’t just a country where if you have a go, you get a go… it’s a country where differences are respected and, indeed, they are celebrated’.
The contraction ‘if you have a go, you get a go’ used by the coalition in the election campaign contradicts this. It implies that because Australians on welfare are unable to have a go they do not deserve to get a go.
The Business Council of Australia’s variation on the theme – ‘The best welfare is working’ – urges people to pull their weight and get off welfare – yet they oppose a living wage.
The United Australia Party’s similarly themed slogan – ‘The best welfare is a job’ – belies its founder’s actions. When his nickel refinery collapsed in 2016 he refused to pay any entitlements to the 800 sacked workers. Instead taxpayers forked out $70 million, freeing him to squander $60 million on election advertising.
These catchphrases are deliberately intended to develop an us-and-them mentality creating victim blaming and making ‘them’ feel unworthy. Now is our chance to reset social policy and reinstate our historical commitment to social justice and equality of opportunity.