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It's so simple

It’s so simple if you're the Chief Executive of the 100 biggest ASX listed companies, making an average $15,000 per day, it’s not difficult making ends meet. If you’re the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley, away on taxpayer funded government business (husband in tow as a guest of the Australian taxpayer), when you spot a nice little holiday/investment apartment, you snap it up for $795,000. It’s so simple.

It’s not so simple for most Australians, especially the 30% of Australians who rely on social security benefits to survive or the casualised working poor who can’t make ends meet, irrespective of how hard they work. Sometimes you make do without food, other times you can’t afford to buy those medicines the doctor prescribed for your kids, sometimes you can’t pay those bills. It’s so easy to find yourself out on the street. It’s so simple, isn’t it?

In Australia, as well as most of the world, some are born to rule, others are born to scramble for the crumbs that are swept off the corporate table.

Of all the countries in the world, Australia should not have a problem with poverty and homelessness. If 25 million people living on a resource rich continent can’t get it right, what hope is there for the rest of the world? Things weren’t like this at the beginning of the 20th century. Although, as a people we chose to ignore the plight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and racism played a central role in the lives of many Australians, the gap between rulers and ruled was much, much less than it is today.

This didn’t happen because of the largesse of those who wielded power, it happened because during much of the 19th century, especially in the latter half, the dispossessed, the unemployed and the casualised seasonal workforce, rebelled and organised. Australian history is replete with accounts of people who formed activist groups and trade unions who stopped begging and beseeching and started demanding their place in the sun. by the early 1890’s the pressure for economic and social reform was unstoppable. The dismissal of the Whitlam led Labor government in 1975 marked the beginning of the end of 125 years of struggle for social, economic and political equality in Australia.

Today most Australians have been reduced to carping complaining consumers who have forgotten that reforms, like penalty rates, access to public healthcare, public education, public housing and social security benefits come from direct action and parliamentary struggle.

In the 21st century we have a choice, we can lose everything our parents, grandparents and great grandparents fought for and won or we can take a leaf out of their book, refuse to be clients and consumers and become active citizens who demand, through direct and parliamentary struggle, legislation to be put in place that protects the inalienable rights and liberties each and every one of us was born with – It’s so simple.