Spiteful lack of empathy behind new ‘DobSeeker’

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Spiteful lack of empathy behind new ‘DobSeeker’

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

It appears the Prime Minister has an aversion to taking responsibility for his decisions (“JobSeeker rise an ‘all or nothing’ deal: Libs”, February 24). Now it seems that “the Australian people” are to blame for the measly increase in JobSeeker. He is probably right if we are prepared to accept this and the draconian conditions imposed. To add insult to injury, we are also expected to grass up sneaky people trying to subsidise, unsurprisingly, the amount. Good luck to them with attending all those interviews and getting nowhere. Mary Billing, Allambie Heights

Scott Morrison tells us “Australian taxpayers believe in this system” referring to the dole for the unemployed. It is very easy to believe in a system, if as a taxpayer you have never been part of the system. If you have never had to support yourself and possibly a family on $620.80 a fortnight; it is very easy to be dismissive of arguments that this figure is far from adequate. What the PM knows and what has driven this measly increase is the recognition that the unemployed are expendable when looking for votes. Ross Butler, Rodd Point

Writers on these pages often refer to our PM’s religion. In the face of such a miserable increase in unemployment benefits it seems particularly apposite then to point out that the clearest, most adamant, of Jesus’ teachings were in support of the powerless, the poor, the sick, and those in prison. Sue Adams, Dulwich Hill

Oddly quiet on corporate responsibility and the probity of large employers profiting from JobKeeper wage subsidies, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash feels happy to impugn those fallen on hard times with her spiteful generalisation that she “often hears” about the unemployed rejecting jobs (“Lukewarm reception for new ‘DobSeeker’ hotline”, February 24). It is clear that this government favours business over individual workers, clinging to its debunked trickle-down economic theories. Is the Employment Minister declaring industrial relations warfare? Alison Stewart, Riverview

The government thinks the “bare minimum” for a “fair increase” in JobSeeker is $3.60 a day (“Dole reversal: price of fairness set at $3.60 per day”, February 24). The Prime Minister summed it up when he talked about living “inside the Canberra bubble” – so out of touch. Glenn Johnson, Leura

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

The government will be pleased to know that in response to their inadequate increase in JobSeeker, those of us with empathy for the unemployed will likely increase our contributions to charities that support the poor. Because such donations are tax deductible the government will effectively contribute something extra anyway. Geoff Harding, Chatswood

Pity the unemployed struggling to pay fares and go to 15 face-to-face interviews suitably dressed to impress on the miserly $50 fortnight increase. Then spare a thought for employers trying to run their business and being besieged by dozens of desperate job seekers each month – ill-thought-out plan for all concerned. Kris Mckeon, Cowra

Federal Social Services Minister Anne Rushton said the JobSeeker increase needed to be “fair and affordable”. What is her ivory tower definition of “fair?” John Cotterill, Kingsford


There must be something in the Coalition’s DNA which impels it to make life more difficult for the poor and vulnerable. John Truman, St Leonards

MP’s revolt is just the beginning for PM

It seems more than convenient that Craig Kelly can now be free from the constraints of Liberal restriction of comment on COVID issues, and the Liberals can take assurance that they won’t be able to pass carbon legislation during his remaining tenure without his vote (“Kelly: I’ll stymie emissions target”, February 24). How good is that? A new opportunity to do nothing and wring their hands in faux horror. No wonder the PM is in no hurry to call an election. Ashley Collard, Fairlight

Kelly has vowed to block any policy the government did not take to the last election. It seems to me that he will have free reign because as hard as I try, I cannot recall any policy announced by the Coalition at the last election. It was merely an election to remove Bill Shorten and his franking credits policy. Sue Wilson, Mosman

There should be a law passed to stop MPs like Kelly, who change their allegiance during a government term, from having any further influence until they have been properly and fairly re-elected. Elizabeth Kroon, Randwick

Although Kelly is the black sheep of the family, others are likely to follow (“Exit opens up room for PM’s other headaches”, February 24). Riding on the back of the success of the vaccine rollout may not be enough to get the Morrison government over the line. The sheep are restless and getting ready to jump the fence. Beware of over-confidence, PM. Chris Moe, Bensville

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

I congratulate Kelly for his conviction and principle and the step he has taken. Democracy allows for group-think, faux outrage, opportune lip-service, sameness, uncritical and lazy thinking . Let’s entertain all views, not stultifying censorship from people who never had to fight for, or are indeed fighting against, ideas, alternatives, generosity of thought and expression. Garrett Naumann, Cammeray

Congratulations to Kelly for having the guts to leave the Liberal Party because of his ideals. Others should also leave the Liberal Party because of their continuing hurtful responses to the unemployed, women, asylum seekers, refugees, climate change, energy and environment, and poor support of the ABC. Howard Clark, Ryde

I propose that we now refer to Craig Kelly MP as the Independent from Reality. Neil Ormerod, Kingsgrove

With role models like Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Robert Menzies, what could possibly go wrong for Craig Kelly? Vicky Marquis, Glebe

Thanks, Tim Overland (Letters, February 24). I wonder how many other readers looked up their dictionaries to see why Kelly was an ultracrepidarian. Victor Marshall, Meander (TAS)

Joy in lessons of lifelong learning

What a joy. Not one, but two stories of remarkable women in their late 80s in the Herald. Ruth Wilson and Pat McDonald not only embody of benefits of lifelong learning – in their very diverse fields – but also passionately promote the virtues of education for others. They are wonderful role models for us all (“A Ruth universally acknowledged” and “Teacher loved her work so much she left it $7 million”, February 24). Anne Ring, Coogee

I remember Patricia McDonald clearly from our monthly excursions to the Australian Museum from Woollahra Public School in 1954. She was a warm, inspiring, encouraging (and always meticulously prepared) guide not just to the Museum and its collections but to the entire fields of knowledge that found a place there. I have lived an entire lifetime on the educational and intellectual capital that was formed on those visits. I have often thought of her and her influence on me over the years, and am heartened to know that she has made an enduring mark there at College Street. Not uncharacteristially, she had to make it herself, by her own generosity and thoughtfulness. Clive Kessler, Randwick

Female principals

Dr Briony Scott writes passionately about sexual assault and how young people learn by watching (“Our passive attitude must change”, February 24). At the root of the scourge of sexual assault lies power; the wanting of power and the wielding of power. Scott cites Trump. His words were “when you are a star ... you can do anything”. A scan of a dozen boys’ school websites revealed not one woman as principal, surely the role providing the key early example of power to our children. Until no one blinks at the prospect of a woman leading an elite boys’ school, I suspect those schools will continue to turn out young men who will strut the streets, and the corridors of power, with an ingrained view of who is running the show. Time to move schools, Dr Scott? Elyse Sainty, North Sydney

Unhealthy delegation

The federal minister for health should enlighten all Australians about how the vaccine rollout in the aged care sector is being funded and monitored across the country by the Coalition government (“Doctor stood down after administering incorrect dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to aged care residents”, smh.com.au, February 24 ). The website for the company involved in the adverse administration of the vaccine to aged care residents in Queensland is a workforce recruitment and training agency whose website claims it “has been appointed to support the vaccination rollout across the nation “. Its advertising makes much of its refresher and upskilling courses for healthcare personnel and its “surge staffing” capacity for the aged care sector. Hopefully the almost invisible minister for aged care is busy behind the scenes asking some hard questions of all those contracted to deliver this national vaccination program to aged care recipients. Sue Dyer, Downer (ACT)

Our meek ambition

Ross Garnaut’s ambition and optimism is a wake-up call in a political landscape dominated by fear and “quiet Australians” (“A vision to lift the nation”, February 24). We used to be a country that celebrated youth and bright futures and punching above our weight. Now we look nervously around to see which country we should meekly follow next. Nowhere is this more evident than in our climate policy. We have some of the best wind and solar resources of any country on the planet, yet we nervously prolong our coal heavy grid and our emissions intensive vehicles. We could be the leaders of the clean technology transition if we had the ambition and forward thinking to take the initiative. Emma Storey, Campsie

Ross Gittins and Garnaut are correct. However, in order for our nation to have a sustainable economic growth and a fair distribution of wealth we must ensure our politicians act for the people and not just for themselves. We need a PM who can lead us out of the rampant pork barrelling, nepotism, corruption and remove the so-called political donation. We may then have a chance. Paul Lau, Dolls Point

Train of thought

Investment in more frequent passenger trains in the busiest parts of greater Sydney is most welcome and will bring multiple benefits, not just for those who use the services (“Many peak-hour train services get 80 per cent boost under $1b revamp”, February 24). Looking beyond the metropolitan area to regional NSW where new passenger trains are also planned, wouldn’t it be the right time to consider providing Moree, Tamworth, Armidale, Orange, Dubbo, Parkes, Condobolin, Broken Hill and Griffith with more than one train per day? Then there are significant regional centres to be considered – such as Lismore and Mudgee – which have lost their passenger train services completely. Perhaps it’s time for regional rail growth to suit the age of lockdown-inspired migration out of the big cities and to attract workers to bring in the crops. Matthew Tierney, Armidale

Cognitive dissonance

The Government insists teachers use evidence-based practice in classrooms but it wants to move away from evidence-based practice with the proposed introduction of the new NDIS assessment system (“Plans to change NDIS may leave many without care”, February 23). It suggests a complete lack of understanding of disability, especially that of cognitive disabilities. The hypocrisy and lack of accountability is astounding. I wonder if it is a ploy to reduce the number of people getting NDIS support? Laura Beaupeurt, Callala Bay

Tin ear for Zappa

Of all the words one could use to describe Frank Zappa’s music, I doubt whether anyone familiar with it would choose “jangly” (“Joke or genius? Zappa doco doesn’t quite pierce the veil” , February 24). In the pop music lexicon that word is usually reserved for the guitar sound made famous by The Byrds. And “fussy”? Can music itself be fussy? Certainly it can be unashamedly complex, and Zappa was famously and justifiably fussy about how it should be performed. As for “tuneless”, a word commonly employed to disparage otherwise interesting and challenging music that doesn’t necessarily have a jolly sing-along chorus, I would suggest that some of Zappa’s “tuneless” music was deliberately so, in the spirit of the sixties’ exploration of atonality. Peter Dasent, Bondi

Using your loaf

The bread we had delivered had a seam down the middle that could be pulled apart easily, resulting in a silky soft surface on each half loaf that we called the “kissing crust” (Letters, February 24). Elizabeth Maher, Bangor

I’ve never heard of the “baker’s kiss”. In our family it was called “the dopey”. Anyone else heard of it or were we the only “dopey” family? Clive Williams, Lavender Bay

In the late 50s I assisted our bread delivery man, who drove a van. Before I started work, he would break a loaf of warm bread in half and we both then ate a handful of fresh bread from the loaf. During deliveries more handfuls were consumed. It was not unusual to deliver a half loaf with an order or as a single purchase. Ian Torrance, Dunlop ACT

Half a loaf was sufficient for our family, broken before our eyes. On a good day we would get the soft, convex end which for some reason we called the “trouser piece”. David Booth, Stuarts Point

My mother asked me to hold the half loaf of warm bread while she chatted to the baker behind his cart. She was furious finding I had eaten all of the inside of the warm soft bread. Richard Stewart, Pearl Beach

Boorowa buff

Derrick Mason would be the cognoscente of Boorowa (Letters, February 24). Christopher Davis, Boorowa

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Take it or leave it: Government won’t budge on JobSeeker’s $25 rise
From Lynette Chamas: ″⁣$25 after 25 years. That equals a rise of $1 a year for the past quarter of a century, courtesy of both parties. Maybe if Morrison stops subsidising the coal industry there’d be more money in the kitty for our most needy citizens.″⁣

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