Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 14, 2011

Wednesday, 13th April 2011 – the ability or desire to work.

One of today’s news features was the announcement by Prime Minister, Julia Gillard [in a  speech to the Sydney Institute] that ‘war’ is to be  declared on idleness, revealing she will use the May 10 budget to press Australians to “pull their weight” and not give in to welfare dependency and economic exclusion.  In other words, the suggestion is [which many of us would agree with] that many people who accept welfare payments for a myriad of reasons that they supposedly can’t work to.   The Prime Minister tonight vowed to use the prosperity of the mining boom to fund programs to boost workforce participation, arguing that many people on disability and other pensions should be working, and in fact were fully capable of doing so.  She said taxpayers should not have to fund welfare for people capable of supporting themselves, and that she would offer training opportunities as part of a push to “entrench a new culture of work”.

An interesting concept, which the Opposition leader in true fashion,  has also jumped upon, claiming that the PM is merely echoing the Coalition policy, except that she has no plan to implement the declaration, compared to the Opposition. Of course we would expect Tony Abbott to immediately get on the attack to any proposals from t6he Government – unfortunately, that is the one aspect of his leadership style that I am coming to dislike thoroughly. Having said that, I would much like to see a greater effort than has existed in the past go into such a program. Australia has a very generous attitude towards welfare recipients despite the various restrictions etc, which to my mind usually disadvantage those who least deserve to be disadvantage, while others are able to get away with unfair practices, etc

As would be reported  in tomorrow’s media, in her speech last night, Ms Gillard declared that Labor was “the party of work, not welfare” and placing respect for work and a fair go at the centre of the national policy agenda. While she conceded there would always be some Australians who were unable to work because of disability, Ms Gillard said it was a “social and economic reality” that some people who could work would not. “Relying on welfare to provide opportunity is no longer the right focus for our times,” the Prime Minister said. “In today’s economy, inclusion through participation must be our central focus.”  She said the nation’s strong economy provided a perfect opportunity to target people stuck on welfare with reforms based on “high expectations\ that everyone who can work, should work”.

For myself, with the prospect of retiring after 40+ years of employment, I never really had any desire to not work, i.e., to spend my life sitting around without any work commitments at the expense of the rest of us. It was enough for me to ‘suffer’ through three periods of retrenchment since 1996, to have any desire to do ‘nothing’ on a fulltime basis. Admittedly, as I approach retirement I’m looking forward to not working  full time, think I’ve earned that,  and want the opportunity to do other things in my life, and to get away from the daily traffic snarls and pressures of getting to and from a job. But the idea of having spent the entirety of one’s life basically doing nothing of value by choice, while others paid for that ‘lifestyle’ simply leaves a very sour taste in my mouth!

As for today, it was a difficult period up until mid-afternoon, when I finally had some communication with Susie – up until then, I’d been genuinely concerned as to where she had been since late yesterday [or more importantly, whether she was okay, others in the family didn’t seem to be able to offer much information]. Anyway, the latter part of the day was less stressful, and I was able to return home & cook a meal for the two of us.  With school holidays on at present, her teacher training placement days [Wed-Friday] were on hold, so she was only required at the university up north for the first two days of the week. It did seem that for the duration of this year’s study, she might need to be more dependent on her Dad in a financial sense [the part time weekend job in Sunbury may not be available for much longer] but that did not concern me, obviously, while I was I in a position to assist, I would continue to do so.

After a poor sleep over night, ,I could have happily done without a meeting to go to tonight, however the Family History Society committee meetings are usually well controlled and short, under Peter Free’s direction, and pleasingly tonight was no exception.  I have been involved with this group since Peter established it back in 1984 after he had run a course on family history at the local Leisure Centre – because of the interest that course generated amongst the participants, he decided to form the Society, and most of the initial membership consisted of his former ‘students’ –  there are still three of us involved! Over the year’s since, I’ve been involved on the various committees in one form or another, usually as Treasurer, or editor of the group newsletter, and a few years ago, wrote up a ‘history’ of the Society for it’s 20th anniversary. Oddly, on this occasion, I’ve never really had any desire to undertake the main leadership role [as President, about from a few months late in 2010 as ‘acting President’ when the group was under threat of collapse] –  mainly because, as a person who prefers to work ‘behind the scenes’ rather than up front as the public face of an organisation, the kind of roles I’ve undertaken, allowed me to achieve that aim – work for the organisation, but do so behind the scenes! The exception to that ‘rule’  involved my 22 years on school councils, which included almost 8 years as President of two separate councils.  I think the difference there, was that despite the importance of the School Council President role, the major spokesperson generally at those two schools throughout those years was the School Principal. I guess I made my strengths to be administrative and conduct of meetings, etc, rather than in ‘public relations’ – other Presidents might have a different style, the opposite in many cases. Despite that, I think I proved to be relatively successful in those roles.

Anyway, on top of all that, I had a relatively early night after a bit more reading of a book written by a former refugee of Burma  – more about that in a day or two.


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