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I ran away from teaching to the country to grow veggies. There are also some chooks and a pair of troublesome goats who were so much trouble they had to go! My simple green life isn't always as simple or as green as I'd like...but I keep trying!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Rant - Occupying Melbourne

Following on from the recent protests in Wall Street, the Occupy Melbourne movement, sprang up.  Many Australians may wonder at the the purpose or sense of such action.  After all, Australia has low  unemployment levels and has weathered the storm of the GFC very well.  However, it is too easy to become complacent ... Australia is suffering too and we must always look to the future.

The gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' is widening.  Many of  those at the top of the corporate pile receive overly generous salary packages and bonuses, while the workers are criticized for asking for a fair share of the profits they are working to produce.

Now when the workers take action (have you been following the Qantas disputes), the outcome is less likely to be improvements to pay and conditions, and more likely the removal of the jobs to overseas locations.

Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
Ron Tanberg - The Age, Melbourne
The power of corporations to affect the mood of the nation and to effect the decisions of governments is mind boggling.  The huge mining companies who are gouging minerals from our land spent $22 million in 6 weeks fighting a modest tax on their monstrous profits ... and bought down a Prime Minister with their efforts.
The Gaming Industry has amassed a reported $40 million fund to fight the introduction of betting limits on poker machines.

Individuals and corporations
 don't make their wealth alone. 
It is made in a social context 
and we all contribute.  

If you are thinking I am a closet communist you are not correct. I would rather live in a 'just' society that rewards people appropriately for the work they do and provides support for people when they need it.  It is about building a healthy social environment where people, individuals and groups, thrive.   I do not begrudge the corporations and corporate leaders fair and reasonable recompense for their work, leadership, risk taking, investment etc.  However, to not share the profits more equitably is a recipe for disaster in the long run.

Extreme inequality breaks down social cohesion and causes societal fragmentation.  People cease to feel like part of the larger whole and become disaffected. Disaffection leads to anti-social behaviour.  We have witnessed this in happening in the United States for a long time. Poverty breeds massive health problems: obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, diabetes, and a whole raft of mental health issues.  Violence and abuse are often associated with poverty and social and health problems caused by poverty.  It begins with individuals suffering but the whole of society is affected in the end.

In Australia, 
we need look no further 
than our indigenous population 
to see the intractable problems 
that poverty and 
a process of disinfranchisment 
can cause, and to understand 
how difficult it is 
to address these 
once they become intrenched.

When I talk about equitable sharing of wealth I am not just meaning pay rises for all. I talking about job creation,  a fair liveable wage and the provision of services such as a functioning health system, an equitable and accessible, world class education system (pre-school to tertiary), funding for science and health research .... on and on.

AND - a sensible, non-poll driven, non knee-jerk approach to the environmental issues of peak oil, renewable energy, pollution, food security, water security ... on and on.


  1. Oh well said Hazel! I was at a
    50th birthday party last night, so the crowd was mostly "mature" people who, luckily, had been in the workforce for most of their lives. However, I didn't hear one disparaging remark about Occupy Wall Street and everyone was supportive of the Melbourne/Sydney protests because of the widening gulf between the have's and have-nots. We all counted ourselves lucky to be living in Australia but depaired at the lack of action on such critical issues that you mentioned in your blog.
    We need to keep this protest in the media and support all those able to participate in the action.

  2. I totally agree Hazel. fair pay for your work. what the CEO's and corporations get are not fair. The little people do all the work and the fat cats get all the rewards. If they paid the worker more, we would get more spent and then the economy would take off.
    simple really.

  3. I sympathise entirely. I read recently about the Chief Exec of a Media group, who had an annual salary of £600K, and retired with a £6 million golden handshake, £22 million in his pension fund - despite having in his tenure seen the share price of his organisation drop seven-fold, and having seen more than 20,000 of his employees sacked / made redundant in cut-backs to try to sustain the share price. How equitable is that???

  4. Very well said! The broadening gap is very plain see if you are just willing to stop and see it. So obvious that I can only assume that everyone does see but only some choose to acknowledge it.

    I happily agree with Jan that I have yet to hear anyone say anything negative - which is heartening.


  5. Loved this post, here in Tasmania the fat cats have screwed us badly, the Tasmanian government has seen it important to prop up a forest industry because of a certain company getting special rights and compensations for what essentially is a business decision that they themselves should wear. The rotten government has spent and arm and a leg on having the Hawks and North Melbourne AFL teams here to play a few games a season. An 11 million dollar horse racing course and V8 super cars here are things we CANNOT afford. Our hospitals are badly underfunded, our education system no longer can afford to support children on the disability register and police stations are being closed down. Yes the company fat cats and the politicians are sitting pretty. And the Greens are getting the blame as they have been voted into this horrible mess at the wrong time.
    Enough of my Sunday rant!

  6. Let me tell you about our Education system! Seems that huge cutbacks are being made there also. I have a little boy starting kindy next year who has an intellectual delay and severe expressive language delay (has no verbal skills at all) and the Department can't offer him any aide assistance whatsoever!

  7. Hear, hear. I'm enjoying your Sunday rants Hazel.

  8. it is interesting to hear your comments. Thank you. The 'Occupy Melbourne', protesters are planning on rallying in Treasury Gardens on Wednesday (when the Queen is visiting)...The Cook and i are going to get our grey heads in there.

    Linn, That is so frustrating. I was involved in writing submissions for funding for students with special needs. I had to make them sound much worse than they were to get the support they deserved anyway. The two fastest growing categories of disability were autism spectrum disorders, and language disorders of various types. Obtaining support for children with autism was getting harder and the government and department's approach to language disorders was to train one person in the school (Just a few sessions). Their job was to then train the classroom teachers so they could cater for the child/children's needs. It must have sounded like such a great idea when they thought about it. But I would like to see them in a class room of xn children and giving any of them, let alone those with special needs, the necessary time, attention and activities. Bah!

  9. This post upsets me immensely. "The gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' is widening". Who cares how big the gap is. Even if you are at the bottom of the pile, you still have access to practically anything you want/need. Free healthcare, the government will prop up with welfare and housing, education is free up until a tertiary level, and even then you can get extremely low interest loans to pay for it which you never have to pay back if you dont earn a certain amount. What constitutes poverty in this country half the would would kill to have. This country, nor anyone in it, has anything to complain about, especially the left-wing nuts who arent even sure what they're protesting about. The sooner they disperse and go back to their middle class suburban homes the better

  10. Grey heads Hazel. You mean green is not your natural colour?
    I share your concern. However am also troubled with individual greed of which I am no better than the next person.
    For me I work for myself, I have not put my charges up in 10 years and yet I see constantly people complaining they aren't getting enough. First the police want more pay, then the firey's, then the ambos, then the quantas engineers and on and on.
    Really it's no better than when the politicians double back benchers pay or ceo's taking multi million dollar bonuses.
    This only fuels inflation and the vulnerable who can't get a rise are edged deeper and deeper into poverty.
    Society is sick and it is such a complicated web that is woven I don't think there is anyway but total collapse and rebuild from the ground up.
    There are just too many material possessions coveted by everyone, including myself, over and above the basic necessities of life.
    This is what any strike action is about not because a qantas engineer can't afford the electricity bill or put food on the table for his family.
    However for more and more people on low income without any chance of a rise it is a matter of whether they can pay the light bill or eat well.
    We have to stop wanting more. All of us that is.

  11. Hazel, are you inside my head again? ;) Well said, comrade! ;)


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