Tackling Australia's welfare state

welfare.jpgI spent last weekend in one of South Australia’s most productive agricultural areas – the Riverland. The breadth and diversity of horticultural and agricultural interests in this area are fantastic and there are many incredible business success stories.

Whether it’s grapes, melons, almonds, lettuces, wine making, roses or meat processing, these great South Australian businesses are working hard to grow and improve their businesses. But they all face similar headwinds that should concern many Australians.

During my visit, there were three common themes raised in respect to the challenges facing their businesses: water, labour and electricity.

Horticultural pursuits depend on reliable and reasonably priced access to water, which is principally sourced from the Murray River. Unfortunately access to that water is driven more by government decisions than by market forces. 

One grower told me of his willingness to invest millions of dollars in his plantings and the purchase of water licences, but he was worried about the arbitrary decision-making of the State Government as to what percentage of the water entitlement any owner will be allowed to use.

It makes a mockery of planning and market efficiencies when a minister can cut purchased water licenses by over 60 per cent without justification. Worse still the same government has spent billions of dollars on a desalination plant but refuses to get it operating until (to use the minister’s words) the river 'runs dry’.

Little wonder those willing to expand are loath to make the investment. It was a powerful example of how government has become the problem rather than the solution.

Electricity prices were also a huge concern. South Australia has the highest level of renewable (and unreliable) electricity generation in the country. It is no coincidence that it also has the highest electricity prices. These prices are already crippling many businesses and are set to get worse.

As the fringes of the political world seek to shut down our coal-fired generators in favour of illogical non-solutions we lose the single most important competitive advantage our nation has – the ability to produce cheap electricity. Blessed with an abundance of coal, we should not only be exporting it, we should be using it for domestic benefit too.

The third challenge was perhaps the most alarming – labour.

Time and time again we were told how hard it was to access domestic workers in regional communities. One example highlights the problem at hand.

In a significant town with 12.6 per cent unemployment, almost every horticultural job was filled by internationals. When asked why this was the case, one employer told me the following anecdote.

After advertising for workers they might receive 40 applications. When told of the need for a drug test more than half of the applicants drop out. Of those that do submit to the testing, another half fail the test.  Of the eight or so remaining, perhaps four are suitable for the job requirements. After offering them a position, the employer considers themselves lucky if two turn up for the first day.

Another employer told me of a similar circumstance in their business and stated that it wasn’t unusual for those that did start to just leave half way through, deciding that work was not for them.

Hence these businesses are left with no choice but to source foreign workers willing and able to do the jobs that too many Australians see as too difficult or beneath them.

It begs the question as to what sort of society are we becoming?

The welfare state has left too many Australians with a sense of entitlement that they don’t have to work. Somehow society owes them a living and it’s okay for them to get stoned and sit around bludging off the taxpayer-funded benefits.

Of course we should support those who are vulnerable and genuinely in need, but already we have too many on the intergenerational non-workers list. We have a fast growing group of people who don’t want to work and don’t see anything wrong with that. If it continues, our support for their bludging will eventually break the budget.

Surely it’s time to hold these individuals to account and bring in tougher criteria for ongoing access to social security benefits. Two steps could make an immediate difference.

Firstly, we need to introduce welfare quarantining so that those accessing the taxpayer-funded safety net aren’t wasting their support on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. A trial in Ceduna is already seeing positive results, particularly in remote indigenous communities.

Secondly, it’s time we introduced regular drug testing for long-term recipients of social security benefits. After all, if taking drugs disqualifies them from even applying for a job, why should the rest of us be left to pick up the bill?


  • commented 2016-10-28 16:29:12 +1030
    The sooner the Government stops giving money to the Salvation Army. St Vincent De Paul the Red Cross and Tim Costello people may be forced to be responsible. These charities encourage the dole and druggies as they are getting a cut out of it. World Vision encouraging women to have all those neglected children is ridiculous. Let Tim volunteer his time if he is genuine. If you can afford drugs you do not need the dole and the same if you can afford 8 children.
  • commented 2016-06-23 16:16:48 +0930
    Willy nilly water use will run dry.

    Every fossil fuel will also run dry – coal and oil within this century.

    Welfare makes up a fraction of taxpayer’s costs – of which entrenched, intergenerational dependence makes up another fraction.

    You sir, are a dinosaur. Perhaps if we’re going to continue using fossil fuels, the excrement and hot air coming from your mouth and fingertips could be of use in that vein.
  • commented 2016-06-08 16:27:33 +0930
    Sadly In society we do have young healthy people who don’t want to work & do feel that society owns them, However In saying that those who are long term welfare recipients are often In circumstances they can not control. One example is those who have a disability & are deemed by industry as being unemployable it’s not because they don’t want to work it’s because they are not given a chance.

    I’m legally blind & I also have arthritis a back injury & Fibromyalgia Syndrome & like any chronic pain condition I have good & bad days, Although I do have a diploma (Broadcasting) & cert (Business Management) behind me who is a employer going to choose for a job a healthy person or someone with a disability & chronic Illness. Cory Bernardi needs a reality this is nothing more than right winged garbage by a senator who I hope is voted out In this current election.
  • commented 2016-06-08 16:19:46 +0930
    Here’s a thought, now you might want to sit down, because it will take a lot of brainpower to master this idea: HOW ABOUT you tackle those dastardly unemployed by, now wait for it, CREATING JOBS! Rather than worry your pretty little head over what a person who is unemployed is spending their pittance of a benefit on, you worry about creating more jobs, funding TAFE, giving people hope for their futures. I know, it is tricky, when it is so much easier to just blame poor people and bash welfare recipients. I know it comes naturally to those who have placed themselves on a high pedestal. Also have a little think about how easy it is to fall off that pedestal, all it takes is one car accident to become disabled and forced to access a disability support pension, one divorce or death of a partner to become a single parent, and one job loss to become unemployed. If it were YOU, would you like your income quarantined onto a cashless card? To suddenly be considered the lowest of the low because you are no longer a ’tax payer". Or is it just ok for other people because it would never, could never possibly be YOU?
  • commented 2016-06-02 19:21:24 +0930
    “it’s okay for them to get stoned and sit around bludging off the taxpayer-funded benefits.” Happy people tend not to get stoned. The real causes are social. Taking away the benefits wouldn’t remove the cause for unhappiness but will have an opposite effect: more unhappy people, more stoned people, more social problems.
  • commented 2016-06-02 19:17:45 +0930
    “Blessed with an abundance of coal, we should not only be exporting it, we should be using it for domestic benefit too.” I doubl the senator would like to live next to a coal power chimney polluting the air with particulates casing health problems.
  • commented 2016-06-02 19:15:20 +0930
    “South Australia has the highest level of renewable (and unreliable) electricity generation in the country. It is no coincidence that it also has the highest electricity prices.” It is a coincidence, SA historically had highest prices.
  • commented 2016-06-02 19:13:09 +0930
    “Unfortunately access to that water is driven more by government decisions than by market forces”. Market forces do not care about anything else than profit. So we should thank the gov for any attempts to keep the river healthy. Market forces have killed a lot of rivers.
  • commented 2016-05-27 14:45:25 +0930
    Seriously people, if you think you know of someone who is ripping off the Social Security System, then you can ring the Australian Government Services Tip-off line on 131 524.
    Alternatively, if you believe someone in your neighbourhood is engaging in criminal activity such as illegal drugs, then ring Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
    Either way, regardless of the outcome, you can at least feel good about yourselves for having exercised your civic duty. Just please stop with this archaic dole bludger bashing bandwagon bulldust.
  • commented 2016-05-26 09:44:26 +0930
    We also have a late twenties man living adjacent to us who had a defacto relationship and to intention to work. Now separated from his partner the tax payer has to pay for mother + two children plus him. He now uses his $500.29 per fortnight for Heroin, booze & smokes whilst living with a parent. Its so upsetting knowing that the tax I have paid during my working life is being used for drugs and maintenance of people with his attitude. As for a Police matter as one writer stated; they are just not interested making a comment “thats its in every street in suburbia”. I also think Democracy is imploding.
  • commented 2016-05-25 15:36:57 +0930
    I agree with you about some young people who are on the dole & don’t seem to have any intentions to get a job. We have one such male in our neighbourhood. He is in his mid-twenties on the dole, lives with his helpful mother, hasn’t worked for 4 years but manages to buy smokes, alcohol & heroin!

    I dobbed him into Centrelink & the employee came up with a few reasons as to why he is on the dole as well as a druggie.

    What a generous country we are; generous but stupid.
  • commented 2016-05-24 08:53:47 +0930
    In most cases, anecdotes are a poor substitute for factual information. Drug addiction is more widespread amongst mainstream society than welfare recipients with legal drugs causing the most damage. Indeed, most people on welfare do the right things and are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table let alone have money to spend all day watching TV and smoking pot. The ones that do either produce it or deal it and we have ways of dealing with this – it’s called the police.
    Drug testing welfare recipients is a right wing, conservative feel good policy and a vote winner amongst others but it makes no economic sense. It has recently been proven to be an expensive failure in all the American States that tried it. Even in New Zealand, after testing over 8000 jobseekers, only 22 returned positive results or 0.275%! Testing 50% of welfare recipients would cost many 100’s of thousands of dollars with no tangible benefits in return.
    The sad thing is this Government likes to demonise and vilify the unemployed as it helps to promote their draconian welfare policies such as the welfare card. A good example of this is the Department of Employment releasing a figure that stated there were 274,000 incidences of people receiving unemployed benefits not attending interviews or Work For The Dole. Of course the tabloids and other media ran stories shouting “274,000 dole bludgers did not attend job interviews or work”. If you look at the facts to break down this figure, you will find that:
    1. Most of these interviews were appointments with Centrelink or a job agency, not for an actual position vacant;
    2. Many of these involved the same person, not 274,000 individuals;
    3. A lot of cases were that people actually found work but continued to get appointment requests;
    4. Breaches were also caused by Centrelink or the job agency themselves (not informing the jobseeker of their appointment or mixing up their name).
    When you factor these issues in the 274K becomes more like 40 or 50 thousand (or about 3%).
    However the Government wants people to believe that most people on the dole are lazy, lying, drug addled bludgers who deserve to have their bottoms smacked by introducing a patronising and stigmatising scheme such as the welfare card. The Basics Card introduced in the NT in 2007 has already proved such a system does not work. The Government will make sure the trials of this card are a success though, by increasing alcohol, drug and other support services in these areas thus making any proper assessment of these trials useless.
    Please do not misunderstand me. I accept there are serious social issues in many remote communities but there also other ways of dealing with this. Although income management has proven to be successful where people have volunteered for it, it should only be compulsory where there is proof of child neglect or drug and alcohol induced criminal behaviour such as family violence.
    The welfare card would punish most of those on welfare who do the right thing. When you are on a limited income, you have to do things cheaply which involves paying cash for second hand goods. I believe it would be a breach of my Human Rights If I could no longer by cheap goods and produce off private sellers through the classifieds.
    For those of you that would say – “if you do not like it, get a job” – have you checked the current state of the job market? People are getting sacked and made redundant everywhere. If you believe the official rate, there is 1 job for every 5 wanting one. If you add the “underemployed and those not even registered”, this figure more than doubles. If you are over the age of 50, your chances are slim and you are likely to spend 72 weeks being unemployed. Are you really going to tell someone in this position (who has worked hard and paid taxes most of their life) that they are a lazy, drug stuffed alcoholic who abuses their kids and needs to be forced onto income management. How demeaning.
    If the Government is serious about reducing welfare dependency, then they should focus on the economy and job creation rather than continuing to blame the unemployed.
  • commented 2016-05-23 00:54:15 +0930
    Anything harder than cannabis drug wise shouldn’t be allowed otherwise smokes and alcohol as long as they aren’t abused should be okay…Have you tried being rejected from jobs all the time? An occasional smoke or drink just takes the edge off.
  • commented 2016-05-22 11:46:31 +0930
    I didn’t know Cory was against old folks having a drag on a durrie. He must believe all that he has been told about the demon baccy.
    Please don’t interpret this missive as advocating for widespread tobacco use – it is not, and I would strongly advise the young never to start.
    However, as a ‘born again non-smoker’ after smoking 20 per day ‘roll your own’ for 55 years, I can attest to how hard the addiction can be to give up – going cold turkey when you want to give up worked for me (plus I thought the baccy was starting to taste like sweepings off the stable floor & that strengthened my resolve).
    I do not denigrate others for their continued use, nor do I adopt the ‘holier than thou’ attitude that I have seen and heard others use – I was determined not to go down that path as that would be hypocritical of me.

    The other thing that intrigues me is why my mates in their 70’s and other relatives in their 90’s who all smoked for as long, or longer, as did I and who don’t have lung cancer or other smoking related diseases have managed to survive unscathed.
    I am of the opinion that there are lifestyle choices and other factors that, in combination with smoking the dreaded weed, cause lung & other cancers. Genetics no doubt contribute, but may only be a factor that still needs a ‘trigger’, along with what and how much one smokes.

    Something as simple as washing one’s hands may go a long way towards alleviating the problem – people tend to blame everyone and everything – except themselves!

    The smokers are probably doing more ‘heavy lifting’ for the Government coffers than many others – notwithstanding statements to the effect that smokers use up more health resources – without any comprehensive records of the person’s whole of life history to substantiate such claims.
    People have no idea what chemicals are in the food that they are assured are ‘safe’ to eat – even the ‘organic’ or ‘fresh’ foods are not absolutely ‘safe’, let alone manufactured foodstuffs.

    Living in a rural area means I only travel to the nearest large village once per week to replenish supplies. The city stinks, if I may say so.
    Then there is one little matter that never seems to be raised – the microscopic particles worn off tyres (and footwear) that are swirling and twirling in the air you breathe and lodging on the food you eat – and anyone who thinks these minute particles don’t/can’t cause problems is deluding themselves.
    This is in addition to all the chemicals from exhausts and other chemicals released from a myriad of activities, some of which are drawn to the attention of the general public. There is no magic magnet that attracts these items to keep them firmly attached at ground level and harmless.
    Then it rains and all that has not turned gaseous and lighter than air is washed into gullies, creeks, rivers and the sea – but, golly, that would never be polluting, would it?

    I perceive it to be wilful blindness of the real world, but I am not advocating the green dream of returning to the stone age – far from it (and at my age & financial status it would be really nice to be able to afford to be able to turn on a heater in winter and a fan or two in summer from reliable base load generated electricity) – just that people should think more deeply about the world around them.
    It is not what you are so often stridently told – but rather what you are not told that should awaken your curiosity.

    However, I do think Cory is doing the best he can for all of us, within the realms of his life experience to date.

  • commented 2016-05-22 10:42:33 +0930
    Peter Sawyer.
    Thank you for that clarification, Peter – it wasn’t as clear in your original comment, to which I responded.
    I also wasn’t aware of the relaxation of DSP criteria in 2012 – I had wondered what had changed, due to various comments at other web blogs – now I have a better understanding.
    Great when old blokes learn something new each day!
    In your advocacy, you must come across people who receive no benefits, use neither doctors nor dentists and have slipped through the system – thanks in part to some of the Government departments that stand upon the downtrodden to push them further into the mire. Unless there is someone who cares enough to help them, they don’t survive.

    I’m rather hopeful that Cory’s blog brings home to people that there are problems in our communities that most Australians may never see or experience – and that they will be prepared to stand with him to try darned hard to make a difference.

    The freedoms that I enjoyed, as a child in the 50’s and as a young man in the 60’s, have been slowly eroded away – but I suppose the old truism ‘that you don’t miss what you never had’ (paraphrased) holds true for people born in later years.

    I was on the dole for 3 weeks in 1961 – the old Commonwealth Employment Service ran the show in those days – and, whilst in their office one day there was a meatworker being offered a position in a town about an hour and a half distant – he refused the position. Seems things haven’t changed all that much.

    However, I do feel for the unemployed of today as the ability I (& others) had of applying for a position and gaining it was never a problem – unlike today, where hundreds apply for one position.
    It is not what you know or how proficient you are but whom you know that is still the deciding factor in gaining employment (and any employer that didn’t do a background check of a potential employee deserves to hire a ‘lemon’).
    What is written on paper may sometimes ‘gild the lily’ and potential employees (and likewise, employers) should be investigated thoroughly.

    Just as there are employers that only the most destitute & desperate would work for, there are people whom no one in their right mind would employ – the unemployable. Both these groups never seem to be addressed in the general discussion and yet they are out there.

    The ‘dumbing down’ of the people to the lowest common denominator is also a major problem in this country – whatever happened to people striving to better themselves?

    My last comment – In all my working life I never felt ‘hard done by’ – whatever had to be done was done and it was accepted as being part of the task at hand.
  • commented 2016-05-22 09:45:39 +0930
    Hi Cory. Of the 3 matters you raised in this blog (problems of water, labour and electricity) one can sheet 2 of them home to government in full (as being totally beyond the control of us, the citizens) leaving only the labour issue as one into which we can have some (but limited) input. We are over-governed without doubt and I, for one, feel quite drained by watching the hand-outs to non-contributors. It is high time Australia lifted its game and we can start by denying not only the Muslim family in Carmen Boxer’s suburb who see it as their right to collect from us and the workers who refuse to work, but also the retired politicians receiving lifetime benefits when their contributions have long faded from memory. How about publishing a list of those receiving hand-outs under that heading and a statistic that allows us, the citizens, to compare the percentage of welfare recipients who are Muslims with the percentage of Australian citizens who are Muslim (regardless of their race or ethnicity). We need this and similar information to agitate for corrections where appropriate, even if government doesn’t like it! Jaded – who isn’t in this silent majority? But thanks for your efforts anyway.
  • commented 2016-05-22 07:38:37 +0930
    You have long stood out as a man of integrity, thanks for being a voice in the wilderness, a voice that speaks out what the nation needs to hear.
    When most people stand at the banks of the river unable or unwilling to discern the depth or the flow of the water, Australia needs leaders to lead the nation into the potential fruitfulness on the other side of the river.
  • commented 2016-05-20 16:35:50 +0930
    Jodie Lamont is certainly on the ball, she has just about said it all, well done
  • commented 2016-05-20 15:31:04 +0930
    Hi Cory I totally agree with your idea to drug test before benefits are given but what is good for the goose is good for the gander. My hubby says that drug testing should just not be for welfare recipients but should also include Politian’s and other people holding high positions …. With you all the way
  • commented 2016-05-20 10:40:55 +0930
    Hi Cory
    I agree. We have young people here in Queensland who are long term unemployed and are not interested in getting a job. By their mother’s admission they sit and smoke pot all day!
    Perhaps we need a more restricted access to the dole like that In America. I was recently watching a programme where a Black American woman was saying tht she needed to get a job because her benefits ran out after 10 months.
    Keep up the good work
    G. S.
  • commented 2016-05-20 10:21:30 +0930
    I totally agree.My husband has to be drug tested to keep his paycheck and pay taxes.The system is weak is why its being abused.The government need to change it,and the only people who will complain will be the ones doing the wrong thing.Welfare also needs to be cashless, not just for indigenous community’s but for all people on welfare.
    We can solve so many issues by changing the welfare system and making it cashless and direct debits set up for legitimate bills. We need to stop making excuses and feeling sorry for people who make the choice to take drugs. Why are we encouraging our young women to follow in the cycles of there mothers to have baby’s young, and be paid for it,it’s just craziness. No one under the age of 21 should recieve money for a child. This would promote our women getting a education and jobs and it would also stop children being born for the wrong reasons.(Baby Bonus what a joke ).The government and some of the people in our society are to blame here, for not making people take responsibility for there life choices.Why wouldn’t they sit back and collect free money because they can.We all have a story we all go through things,but we also have choices,and we need to take responsability for those choices,not rely on the taxpayer down the road trying to support his own family.And as for worrying about people turning to crime yet another excuse for taxpayers to keep taking responsibility for others.Look if you break the law then you have to take responsibility for that too.The big problem here is you risk task payers just giving up,the more we try to get ahead the more taxes we have to pay to support people abusing a weak system.The government need to start making the hard decisions its out of control.I go to a doctor it cost me $60 others cost $0 nothing is for free
    I do believe in the $5 fee to see a doctor for people on welfare, Because nothing is free people. Someone has to pay in the end and it will be our future generations that pay. To many people living for today and what they can get now.
    The welfare system needs to start digging deep and reassessing peoples eligibility for payments.I can count on all my fingers how many people i know doing the wrong thing to receive payments,but no one seems to care. It’s easy to do we just fade out the old system and bring in the new one. It will make people get of their ass and try and eithen give up drugs because it is a choice people.
    If you have never paid taxes then you don’t get to vote that would be a good one.
    Sometime’s I feel it seems so easy to change things so why doesn’t the government just do it.
    The only people who won’t vote for you will be the ones receiving free money, I guess that’s a lot of people these days.But what these people need to realize someone is paying nothing is for free.
    Can i also add i feel for animals these days being bred for tax free money, gumtree is rampered with puppy’s and unwanted pets.Wish someone would bring in laws to stop that too.There is nothing people wont do to make tax free money at animals expense.Most end up in RSPCA again another thing the government could change but don’t.

    Immigration so thankful we have someone like Peter Dutton,as we do need to be realistic about this.I live near a Muslim family they had 1 child when they came here they now have 9 and don’t work, and who do you think is paying for that.I can barley afford 3 children and we both work its just insanity.Harden up Australia stop free loading and contribute to our beautiful country and life we have here before its ruined by greed and poor decision making because we are worried about hurting someone’s feelings.
    You cant sustain the way things are going we wont hard changes and we want them Now.

    Kind regards.
  • commented 2016-05-20 05:58:56 +0930
    I agree with Jodie Lamont. Drug testing is the presumption of guilty until proven innocent. I also agree with the 4 points of Mr Sawyer.
    K packer said, to the effect, during that time of the Fairfax takeover, The average bloke would not have a clue what law or regulation you need to know to follow in everyday life. The government are great at making laws, there should be a rule that for every law you create you should repeal one first.
    I implore you to watch the “BREXIT” movie. This is what Australia is like. I recall Gillard boasting of the 600+ pieces of legislation introduced.
    How many pieces of legislation have been repealed? Mandated policy saw 18 C as a law repeal and it hasn’t made it to the Bill stage.
    When someone tells me, in my own house, I cannot have my hot water set above 50 degrees, I say, it is none of your business. But ……… even that is regulated.
  • commented 2016-05-19 23:13:31 +0930
    One hundred percent agreed with your points. We very badly need a leader like you who has common sense and not scared to speak the truth. God bless you.
    Gamini Dassanayake
  • commented 2016-05-19 22:44:56 +0930
    My worry is if we stop drug users and other down and outs from receiving welfare will they turn to crime to support themselves and their habits. There has to be a lot of thought and planning put in before drastic action like this happens.
  • commented 2016-05-19 22:31:33 +0930
    As one who has much experience in the field, I can say Mr. Bernardi makes some very significant points worthy of serious consideration.
  • commented 2016-05-19 15:21:57 +0930
    Great piece.

    Oh that Australia were blessed with 100 politicians with your simple clarity and common sense. In the 51 years of my working life which started at age 14, I claimed the dole once. The next day I was granted a place in a taxi driver training class and immediately cancelled my request for the dole as, if I passed the exams, I would, in about 10 days be allowed to drive for the company running the classes. The result was 6 days a week of 12-16 hour days on a very low income – certainly less than most people would earn in safer jobs doing a 40 hour week.

    I share that to show the contrast with the new class of Australians who have no intention of working and have no shame in collecting as much as possible from the few who will work and pay taxes.

    As a country and personally, we should be generous and compassionate to those who have genuine needs, but to those whose chosen lifestyle is to “bludge” that generosity and compassion should be replaced by common sense (which many politicians sadly seem to lack) and the rule applied that "If a man will not (rather than cannot) work, he should not eat either. Such hard love would, I am sure, see our dole queues dramatically fade.
  • commented 2016-05-19 13:34:48 +0930
    Good piece Cory. However, the fundamental problem is deeper and transcends party politics. Representative democracy is failing. The catalyst may be the 24 hour news cycle which amplifies political issues. Representative democracy was never very good; as Churchill said it’s the least worst solution for how to govern a large population.

    The right to vote has always been restricted to responsible people, but the definition of ‘responsible’ has changed greatly over the decades and centuries. Now it includes those who have no understanding of, or don’t care, how the world works so long as their immediate needs are satisfied. This is made worse by mandatory voting.

    Offering handouts to the people is the preferred means by which the large political establishment wins and retains power. We are in a downward spiral. Greater dependence on government, giveaways not funded, little budget discipline, and increasing national debt. Politicians spend as much time and energy on personal and party advancement as they do on policy, and the two are firmly linked.

    Representative (indirect) democracy was created in Rome when direct democracy, used earlier in Greece became unworkable. Indirect democracy breeds a large entrenched political class with considerable benefits that, as discussed above, depend on satisfying their electorate and forming government. Direct democracy has much less need of a political establishment. It became unworkable because it could not cope with a large population. But perhaps this need not be a limitation in the internet connected nation. If we were informed about and voted on policies directly via the web, only those with sufficient interest and intellect would bother to participate.
  • commented 2016-05-19 12:32:33 +0930
    Brian Lund,

    I have spent the last 30+ years of my life working as a voluntary advocate for people being monstered by “The System” in its various guises. The bulk of those I have tried to help are victims of Centrelink, and the bulk of those are people who are, or should be, on DSP. There are nearly a million people on DSP. I referred to the “half million people on DSP due to drug addiction or “depression”, who shouldn’t be on it even under existing legislation”. That leaves half a million people who fit the profile you have described. They are the ones I have been trying to help.

    Since the changes to DSP qualification introduced in 2012, the situation grows steadily worse. The blunt truth is, under the new guidelines the kind of “burned out” people you describe, are unlikely to qualify for DSP. In fact, in the last twelve months I have worked with people literally dying of cancer, who have been knocked back for DSP, and are still required to meet the job search requirements of the dole. How stuffed up can a system get before some politician notices? Meanwhile, Senator Bernardi wants to stop them from having a fag, and thinks that is some kind of solution. Worse, most commentators here agree with him.

    The reality is, these days the only people qualifying for DSP are drug addicts, both legal and illicit, “depressed” people on medication, and country shoppers who stubbed their big toes getting off the boat at Christmas Island.
  • commented 2016-05-19 12:19:05 +0930
    Drug testing at every Centrelink centre will fix the problem.A positive results means no payment for the miscreant. Give them a months notice of implementation and then watch the results.
  • commented 2016-05-19 12:18:28 +0930
    Why not drug testing in all walks of life? No warning that it is about to be undertaken – just done.
    I think the populace would be horrified to find the extent to which this scourge permeates society – from the unemployed (unemployable) to the highest positions in the land and all places in between.
    Add to that the impost of legal drugs and the extent of the problem is nothing short of disastrous.
    Just think of all the extra employment this would create – drug police on every corner and in every workplace!
    Wind and solar power. I have always been flabbergasted at the claims made by proponents of such schemes – they have obviously never had to rely solely upon either for their power or water supplies, without having some form of storage for the times when the sun doesn’t offer enough sunlight and the wind doesn’t blow.
    A neighbouring farmer uses a windmill for stock water to a large storage tank – yet, at certain times of the year, I have to pump water for him because there has been insufficient wind to keep up the necessary supply – anyone using a mill for water supply would have noticed that that is a problem that needs to be overcome with some form of assistance.
    I have stood near the panel for the 5 kilowatt solar array and watched the output fluctuate as the clouds drift over – it isn’t a reliable source of base load power – even worse when the rain clouds hang low for days on end – the lights go out and the water that should be pumped by a solar pump – doesn’t.
    Internal combustion engines have to provide backup power and backup water supply.
    How either of these expensive (both to make and subsidize to run) sources of power are capable of producing the power required to mine and refine the products and smelt such products and then manufacture solar panels and oversized windmills has me nonplussed. It is but a pipe dream – a fantasy – a wilful ignorance based upon an ideology not grounded in fact.
    There is a simple solution for South Australia – throw the switch (figuratively) at the S.A. / Vic. border and see how long it takes for S.A. to wake up to their stupidity.
    Water is the lifeblood of this dry continent – yet few new dams have been built in past decades. If we are, as country, intent on not only growing our economic base but also our population, we badly need reliable sources of water – without it, we simply cannot survive.
    We are descending into economic madness.
    Having elbowed my way past the three score years and ten milestone, I would rather the ability to have reliable electricity at my fingertips and drinkable water when I turn on a tap – than go back to the days of my youth when neither were available nor reliable. I also happen to like having cold water in the fridge should I feel the need to partake – no beer, though.