Tony Abbot appoints Scott Morrison to the role of Ministry of Social Services – heaven help us all!

Let me be perfectly clear.

Scott Morrison is a man who, until a couple of days ago, was the Immigration Minister in Australia.  He is also personally responsible for the inhumane treatment of thousands of asylum seekers to this country.

No matter what your views about the validity of asylum seekers who come to this country by boat, the abject inhumane treatment of them is totally and utterly unacceptable.

This article in The Monthly is an article of harrowing and shocking letters written by asylum seekers (both adults and children) in detention praying for death because what we as a country offer them is worse than what they left behind.

No matter what you believe, no matter what your political views, inhumanity is wrong.  You would have thought that after the atrocities of World War I and II that these kinds of atrocities would never be seen again.  We were wrong.  Scott Morrison has seen to that.

I am passionate about this topic.  I am passionate about the right for people to seek asylum in countries that are safe, war-free and economically stable.  I believe that those kinds of a countries have a moral obligation to assist those whose own countries are unsafe.

Can you imagine if countries had closed its doors to the millions of Jews who sought asylum after the war?  Can you imagine if the likes of the United States and Switzerland had persecuted these people even further by throwing them in refugee camps detention centres, subjecting them even to further torture by denying them adequate basic necessities, health care and education, rendering their only wish to be death because they cannot even hope for a better life with no hope of ever being released?  Do you think, back in 1945, the world would have agreed with that?  No.

I am so tired of the rhetoric that these people threaten our way of life, our jobs, our religions, our comfort, our very existence.  Time and again, history has shown that integration of new cultures, of new skills, of refugees has in fact strengthened the economy, allowed the country to grow through its enrichment of new ideas and ways of doing things.  And integration is the keyword here.  There hasn’t been an invasion, but an integration.  There is a massive difference.

But since I am on my soap box, please allow me the courtesy of enlightening you a little bit (source: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre):

  • There are currently 8,342 asylum seekers in one form of detention or another in Australia.  2,349 of those are children.   Those 8,342 asylum seekers represent just 0.03% of the population of Australia.  How on earth is that in any way a threat to our way of life?
  • Of the boat arrivals between July 2009 and June 2013, 90.6% were granted asylum.  This means that over 90% were deemed valid claims and allowed into the country.
  • In the 2012-13 year, there were 162,700 births, 242,800 migrants arrived in Australia on work and other visas, and just 26, 427 asylum seekers arriving by boat (representing just 6% of the population growth of Australia).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Australia is a signatory (no matter how it wishes it wasn’t), states:

Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 9: No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exhile

Article 14: Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

The UNDHR was adopted in 1948 as a direct result of the atrocities of WW2 in an attempt to never repeat its inhumanity again.

Scott Morrison has said fuck you to that!

Never mind that he said that even if their claims are found to be valid they will never be settled in Australia, or the fact that he says if they don’t like it then they can return to the country from which they are fleeing.  What is terrible, is the conditions, clearly orchestrated in light of Scott Morrison’s video, under which people are being treated.  The letters speak of searing heat, no hot water and vast amount of women with vaginal infections.  They speak of children speaking of and attempting suicide. They speak of believing that they were fleeing to a country that was fair and just and treated all its people humanely in stark contrast to the unspeakable horrors that they were fleeing from.

Apparently not.

What is even more terrible is the fact that a lot of Australians believe it is acceptable, and some even believe right, that people should be subject to this kind of inhumanity.

Scott Morrison has played beautifully to this rhetoric in his “I have all but stopped the boats” speak.  These LEGAL asylum seekers are political pawns in a massive struggle to maintain political power in a country that once was based on a fair go and equality for all (though that never really ever was the case).

And now, Tony Abbott, our boob of a prime minister, has promoted Scott Morrison to Minister of Social Services.  Be afraid is all I can say, Australia, be very afraid.  Our government has been in power for just over a year and the devastating damage it has done domestically in that time is unequalled in the history of democratic government in Australia.  A full list of broken promises can be found here (yes that is 404 and counting!!).

On the appointment, Scott Morrison pledged to “ensure the integrity, dignity and sustainability of our safety net. But the best social service we can afford any Australian, to help them deal with the cost of living, is a job. Getting as many Australians, who are able, to get off welfare and into work will be one of my core goals”.

We all know that what this means – it means that people who are marginalised and disenfranchised will be forced encouraged to get off welfare to look for work, despite the vulnerability of most of these people.  Tony Abbott said when appointing Scott he is a “splendid advocate but also the master of difficult policy and administration…

Tony Abbott then went on to say that the Ministry for Social Services is essentially a Ministry for economic participation.  This is neo-libearlism at its core.

The problem with neoliberalism is that it assumes that all people are born to equal rights and opportunities and as such have the same opportunities to create an abundant life for themselves as anyone else in the country.  We know that this is simply not the case, at all.  EVER.  This is an IDEOLOGY, not a truth.  It is an ideology that runs through the veins of our current government and is announced daily through our mainstream media.  It is an ideology that is explicitly used to ensure the rich-poor divide.

In the same week as this ministry for economic participation Ministry for Social Services appointment, Tony Abbott also cut funding for national trade cadetships, ceased payments to apprentices under Support for Adult Australian Apprenticeships program and abolished the Australian Workforces and Productivity Agency.  Call me what you will, but isn’t this in direct contrast to the “economic participation” ethos Scott Morrison has apparently been employed to do.

Tony Abbott also cancelled the National Aged Care and Community Health forum, abolished the National Children and Family Roundtable, cancelled the Healthy Life, Better Ageing committee and cancelled the Aged Care Planning Advisory Committee among many others.

You would have to be an idiot not to realise that Scott’s lack of compassion and humanity is going to be used to further persecute those most vulnerable in in our own society.  The man is simply a modern day Mussolini.  I can imagine him now saying “let them eat cake” when being told that the bottom 20% of Australians are starving to death.

When are we as humans going to stop hurting each other?  When will we finally realise that being kind is not a weakness?  Is it human nature to just continue oppressing people?

Australia is by no means the lucky country.  Not for those who flee here hoping for safety and the right to be able to sleep at night, not for those people in our society who are marginalised and disenfranchised, not for the 100,000 Australians who are homeless.

And I urge you, when you go to that polling station in 18 months’ time, please think very carefully who you wish to have in power. I urge you to ask yourself what is important to you – humanity, equality, kindness and the rights to at least basic needs, or is it a need based on the fear that the media feed you at the time.

Until next time,

SHW Signature




PS: If you would like to donate to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, who do amazing work in the area of advocacy please go to their donation website and like them on their Facebook page.




To Others

Customer Service 101 – Go the extra mile

Gosh, what a day it has been, and it is only 2pm.  Thank goodness it is Friday, right?

We are renovating our bedroom.  It’s not so much as renovating as decorating, but either way it needed a serious upgrade so when Mr C got a bit of a bonus, we knew immediately where the money was going.

I’ve been thinking about our bedroom for a while now (as you will know from this post) and I really wanted to go all out.  The problem was that we were on a budget and we couldn’t really deviate from that.

So, I set about trying to recreate the look on the limited funds I had.

I managed to snag some bargains, and was lucky enough to walk into a store on the one day they were having a 30% off sale on some quite large ticket items.  It takes work to decorate on a budget, but it can be done.  I will certainly give you a tour once we are done, but this isn’t the point of my post today.

We decided to buy our bedside tables from what one could call a mid-low end store.  The look of the tables was exactly what I was looking for and because they are bedroom tables, in our bedroom, they didn’t have to be as durable as say a living room item.  Our budget just simply wouldn’t stretch to the high end look so we went ahead and purchased them.

At the same time, we also purchased from the same store a chaise lounge sofa for our spare lounge, which our 16 year old son uses.  It was not massively expensive, but not cheap either.

Both the tables and the sofa were delivered today.

Two things happened.

Firstly, the delivery guys refused to unwrap the items and take away the packaging.  Apparently, it is this store’s new policy not to do that as it “takes too much time”.

Secondly, whilst the sofa is too large for me to unwrap on my own, I decided to unbox the side tables.  Our new bed is also arriving today so I was keen to get them unboxed so that I could start putting the room together.

Imagine my dismay when not one, but both tables had nicks in them.  These nicks had clearly happened before the painting process, as they had been painted over.  This was obviously a quality control issue.

I phoned the store immediately who informed me that I had two options – I could either keep the damaged goods and a $40 refund per table would be given to me, or I could replace them with new ones which would take 3 weeks as they no longer had them in stock.

Neither of those choices suited me particularly but I plumbed for the second one.  I refuse to live with damaged furniture.

Shortly after this, our new king size bed arrived.  We have been so excited to get this puppy.  We spent the majority of our budget on it.  Mr C recently had spinal surgery and we were advised that whilst many people don’t think of it, a good bed is really vital for back health.

Again, despite the fact that what we paid for that thing could easily have paid for a good second hand car, the delivery men just dropped it off without unpacking it.  “We don’t do that,” they said as they carted off the old mattress, for which we had to pay a further fee.

I recently read a quote by Roger Staubach who said that “there are no traffic jams along the extra mile”.

Seth Godin, a highly regarded marketer, constantly talks about how a business can add value to the customer experience, highlighting that it is through this added value that customers become loyal to you and your brand (think Apple here).

Is it that hard to go the extra mile these days?  Is it that hard for a business, no matter how small, to ask “How can we make it easier for the customer to buy from us.  How can we make them want to buy from us?”  Is this not a fundamental thing businesses should be asking themselves?

These are big ticket items which makes it very difficult to dispose of the packaging.  We can’t just pop it in our waste.  We have to take it down to the dump for which there is another $40 fee, after having already paid a $90 delivery fee.  This inconvenience has certainly taken the shine off the purchase, not least because I can’t do anything with the furniture since I am not able to unpack it on my own.  It was just unceremoniously dumped in my house.  And I am not happy.

Where has the customer service gone?  Why is it okay to take hard earned money off people, but not leave them with the feeling that they made a good purchase full of value for money.  All of these items came from a spread of stores so it isn’t unique to just the cheaper items.

Why is that?

Is it that we need more competition, forcing businesses to go the extra mile to satisfy their customers?

Is it any wonder that people are turning more and more to online purchases, where the price is cheaper and often times, the service is better.

Retailers, I think it is time you woke up to the fact that competition is fierce and that simple things, like removing packaging for those really big ticket items, can make all the difference.

This may seem like a “first world problem”, a term I absolutely abhor, but I am living in a first world country, spending hard earned money that helps keep the economy in this first world country ticking over.  A little bit extra for that I don’t think is a lot to ask.  There are companies that do offer the “unpack and remove” service, as it was done with our lounge suite a couple of years ago, which is probably where my expectation of this service began.

Rant over.  I’m off now to make a cup of tea and wait for Master J to get home, so he can help me get all the packaging off!

Until next time,

SHW Signature