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Australia's growing underclass plus comment from Jim Saleam

Back on May 17th, 2010 I wrote an article on CanDoBetter entitled 'Australia's growing underclass'.

The article came out of my personal exposure to months of abject unemployment forcing me, out of respect for my family, to humbly walk into CentreLink. To my disgust, since I was not in absolute starvation-poverty, CentreLink rejected my claim for temporary unemployment benefits. Only thanks to my broader family, we didn't come close to losing our house.

That article read as follows:

Australia's Growing Underclass

I can attest to the inadequacy of the Australian Government's treatment of unemployed people via Centrelink. The forms are longer and more invasive than a tax return. The processing took eight weeks after which I was rejected because my partner was working part-time.

Eventually I got back into work off my own bat, but the experience was humiliating, a waste of time, and has turned me vehemently against government.

So many Australians are vulnerable to losing their job and don't have sufficient financial reserves to get back on their feet, let alone meet bill payments when there is no income. When this happens it comes as a shock to find that the safety net one assumed existed, does not in fact exist. One must be in abject poverty to be eligible for government support. For men in particular, the loss of esteem as a failed breadwinner can tip many to depression and worse. A substantial number in rural Australia and on the land are isolated and particularly vulnerable.

Both Labor and Liberal argue that important numbers of people rort the system and so each of these political parties have respectively made the claim hurdles so high that the majority of applicants' claims are eliminated as they go through the Centrelink system. The unemployment benefit of $220 a week, if it is paid, is so low as to be less than most weekly rents. People with a mortgage are forced down a path of bank repossession. It is a steep, slippery slope for many families.

A large proportion of workers now work on contract terms, like me, without leave entitlements, without unions, without rights. When the contract ends there is nothing and sometimes those contracts end at a whim with a tap on the shoulder at 5pm on a Friday.

And it is not just unemployment that has many Australians placed in dire circumstances. People with a disability, widows, veterans, and older people, have been thrown on the scrap heap. So have people with mental health issues, the homeless and those who simply find themselves in poverty and in broken homes.

Many Australians do not realise how close they are to joining the growing underclass.

Labor and Liberal have lost touch with those ordinary Australians who fall from the position of being able to fend for themselves. The Greens as the main alternative seem to be stuck in some ideological utopia pressing for 'green' issues that prioritise environment and climate change over basic human needs.

Meanwhile Australia's growing underclass is undermining the health and cohesiveness of our society. It wouldn't take much for a new alternative party focusing on life's fundamentals to get up.

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Later that day I added a further comment:

'I have decided to join Australia First'
I shall give them a go since I have read and support their values.
I see no reason to support Labor, Liberals, Greens or Nationals, based on their lack of performance. Over the years, I have voted for all of them at one time or another, kidding myself they will bring change. I have had a gut full.
If another party presents itself with fresh ideas I will consider that too.
JM

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Since my post, slur and innuendo followed and then CanDoBetter went off air for about two months (Nov-Dec 2010). But it was only yesterday I learned that I had been granted release from purgatory and that I now have access to CanDoBetter (hence why I have not contributed since).

And so, now at the first opportunity I herein post the reply offered by chairman of the Australia First Party, Dr Jim Saleam, to the accusations raised against him all those months ago that were denied a free hearing. I have since started my own website against injustice entitled malleebull.org, although I shall continue to support CanDoBetter since they gave me an opportunity to speak freely.

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Reply by Dr Jim Saleam, Australia First Party, 25th Nov 2010:

[This is a reply to "Can the Australia First Party help fix the plight of ordinary Australians" and other comments on candobetter - which I have not yet been able to locate. Ed.]

'Dear Mr. Marlowe,

I note that my name has excited some angry and wild comment on Can Do Better.

You asked me about one curiosity that you thought was being used to attack my credibility. Therefore, I am happy to provide you with the following comments on my relationship with the so-called National Socialist Party of Australia (ie. the Nazi party).

Note first, that this ‘party’ went out of existence in December 1975. I was just over 20 at the time.

I was not one of its members and I possess a formal statement from one of its ‘leaders (sic) to this effect. However, that is only part of the story and in some ways – only incidental to the truth.

I was certainly ‘acquainted’ with them - and a plethora of right wing (and leftist) and emigre anti communist groups – from 1970. I met many of these people under various circumstances. What I saw and heard was compulsive (one had to learn more) and dangerous for a child to learn. Essentially, and relevant to your enquiry, I established that these Nazis were not in any way what they even appeared to be, but were an anti communist street gang employed by the political police to attack leftist groups. On a few occasions, I either witnessed - or was told of - serious and other offences committed by ‘Nazis’ and other anti communists. One should record too, that these Nazis were hardly the shock-horror ultimate-challenge to the liberal model of race relations. Rather, their goal was totally coloured by their need (sic) to attack the Left. Anything else was a signboard to attract a few naïve or mad persons who could be appropriately manipulated.

Before I was even an adult, I came to the conclusion, albeit in stages, that this entire political milieu was a shadow world that belied the formal democratic polity of our country. It is actually a lesson that I am pleased to have learned. Too many Australians take what they see for what there is.

Some of this material is in The Right Wing Underground In Sydney 1973 – 1977 at

'The Right-Wing Underground in Sydney 1973 - 1977 (With Emphasis On The Special Branch Files)'

Some of it is in Chapter Two of my PhD thesis at:

'The Prelude: From a Satellite Right to an Independent Extreme Right 1945-1975' (see also, comment below. - Editor)

More of it will be in a pamphlet I am currently writing.

Note too, it was me who exposed (in various ways since 1976) the relationship of these ‘Nazis’ with the political police. I observe that my critics elsewhere seldom pass a comment on that – even to denounce me for saying it. I wonder why?'

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Freedom of speech is vital in Australia and I am pleased that this website respects this right.
JM

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Comments

The assets limits for Centrelink benefits, not including your own home, used to be over $400,000, but now it is now less than $200,000. Anyone who has savings, or investments, is being penalized. You are on your own. This means that unless the savings are put into an government approved superannuation fund - one that they can control - you must dip into your nest egg. Capital must be liquidised for running costs. It bars baby-boomers and anyone who has had the ability or salary to save. The only people who can get benefits now are refugees, the very poorest and marginalised, or the young.

Family situation For Homeowners For Non-homeowners
Single $181,750 $313,250
Couple (combined) $258,000 $389,500
Illness separated (couple combined) $258,000 $389,500
One partner eligible (combined assets) 258,000 $389,500

Going to Centrelink is invasive, and revealing every detail about your assets to the last detail, revealing every bit of income, lining up for appointments, checklists, and job agencies is one designed to humiliate the genuine unemployed or retrenched.
Our society is being divided into a a disadvantaged, impoverished underclass by importing skilled workers from oversea. Poverty becomes a trap. It's about saving money on education and poaching the ready-skilled from oversea.

Meanwhile the real drain on taxpayers is not the unemployed or pensioners, it is the property developers who drive up the cost of land and everything with us and make us all poorer in every way. We should demand much better treatment for the unemployed and ensure that their savings are not sacrificed and that their mortgages are frozen whilst they have no incomes.

Yes, and I have another story: my son was run over at work - he required massive surgery to save his leg and eventually got a payout - which the lawyers got a big slice of.

He does not own a home and had to live off the pay out for 18 months before he was allowed to claim Centrelinks benefits.

He couldn't buy a home, because he didn't have an income to support a loan for the balance.

He also had to pay for retraining in a new field of work - he couldn't go back to his old job.

Then the tax department contacted him wondering why he hadn't put in an Income Declaration for 2 financial years - they told him he had to put in a Declaration which would indicate interest earned off his payout: a whole $1,130.00.

But we can afford to send millions? Billions? in over seas aid - but when there is a disaster at home or several disasters - the government's solution is to tax us more.

A solution to the worsening standards of living in Australia is perhaps to 'not buy into it' - i.e. don't buy a house - buy a mobile home or Recreational Vehicle' and deliberately become of 'No fixed Address' !

Much cheaper than a conventional home - every mod con including a fully functional bathroom.

Singles or small families can become transitional workers - making life an adventure and a permanent holiday.

... The less you have to lose.. the less you have to lose...

I intend to take my own good advice - conventional homes aren't built the way they used to be and are certainly not worth what they are charging for them.

Not so long ago a house worth $250,000 - $300,000 got one a view of the ocean or beautiful bush setting. Now it wouldn't buy a high rise cubicle or 'renovator's delight' Ugh!

No, I'll continue working - buy that RV and keep my income in that RV - not in the bank where it can be watched.

Worry about being robbed? Yes, that's why I won't be keeping the money in a bank.. and has it occurred to anyone that we no longer have 1 Cent pieces? I get no change from something priced at $3.99 - so should I grab a handful of grapes and nuts every few months to make up for the accruing 1c that the shop keepers have helped themselves to?

Robbery at till-point is being done by the shop-keepers and business owners - not by armed robbers!

If you can't change the World's View - change your own - do some reassessing - give yourself a 60-40 deal - in your favour - not someone elses !

Thanks, John Marlowe and Jim Saleam,

I will be sure to read the documents Jim Saleam has linked to with interest and an open mind both ways.

I certainly concur with John Marlowe's comments about the social welfare system. On at least two occasions in my life when I was out of work through no fault of my own I could not bring myself to face Centrelink, even tough I knew I was legally entitled to support. Instead, I lived on my savings on one occasion and money I had received for my share of equity in mortgaged house after a break-up on another.

Astonishingly the daily Murdoch press still periodically tries to whip up public resentment of Centrelink benefit recipients. An article, in last Friday's Herald-Sun made the lying claim that unemployed could live comfortably in a share house when even those on professional incomes are struggling to meet the rent. Not long ago, married couple with a child in a half-house flat next to me broke up. The rent had been jacked up repeatedly in recent years. Whilst this may not have been the only cause of the break up it certainly would not have helped.

During the 2008 Queensland elections, in which I stood as a candidate, I met a women on unemployment benefits who had recently lost her secretarial job. She was sharing not just a house, not just a flat, not just a room, but a bed with a person she was not even intimate with.

No journalist covering this issue could be unaware that anyone receiving only the pittance of Centrelink entitlements, could not possibly be living in anything but poverty.

Chapter 2 of Jim Saleam's The Other Radicalism: An Inquiry Into Contemporary Australian Extreme Right Ideology, Politics And Organization 1975-1995 seemed to me like a very well well-reasoned examination of the use of far-right wing groups by the Australian state against left-wing groups and anti-war movements from the end of the second World War through the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and beyond, until I read the following:

A Special Projects Section (of ASIO) carried out individually crafted operations to enervate the Left, with ‘Operation Whip’ targeting the anti-war movement (1969-72) to ensure it did not foment urban-guerrilla warfare.

It is not believable that Australia's national political police force ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) could have truly feared "urban guerrilla warfare" by domestic left-wingers. It is not believable if the words "warfare" and "guerrilla" mean what they are normally taken to mean, that is deadly violence with guns, explosives and other lethal weapons (and not just street fist-fights between rival political groups).

Those, who who would have had the most to fear from "urban-guerrilla warfare" would have not been ASIO or the authorities but, in fact, genuine left-wingers, anti-war activists and other progressives.

In fact, the democratic rights that we enjoyed back then -- our rights to protest, vote, to free speech, to join, participate in and campaign for political parties and to stand for elections ourselves -- made it possible to end the Vietnam War, end the loss of lives of Australian servicemen and the far greater loss of Vietnamese lives and throw out the Federal Liberal/Country Party Government that led us into that war as we did in 1972. (Of course, Australian democracy has taken many turns for the worse since 1972, but what happened then shows just what was possible and what may be possible again if we keep cool heads.)

If any group had actually started "urban guerrilla warfare" in the 1960's and 1970's, it would have provided the authorities an excuse to repress opponents with prison or worse, to take away their rights to free speech or possibly even to abolish democracy altogether.

Why would any right-minded Australian left-winger have taken that risk by engaging in "urban-guerrilla warfare"?

If a campaign of "urban guerrilla warfare" had actually been launched, it would have been safe to assume that those behind it would have been either deluded patsies or else agents consciously seeking to undermine the anti-war movement and democracy.

It is of concern that Jim has apparently been taken in by what could only have originated as deliberate disinformation. Let's hope that this mistake is quickly realised, acknowledged and explained and that his generally excellent writing contains no other pieces of harmful disinformation.