Friday, August 25, 2006
Posted by DH at 6:13 pm
Posted by DH at 6:09 pm
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Posted by DH at 2:52 pm
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Weren't the Liberals supposed to stand against centralised control, the intrusion of the state in private life, and governmental red tape?
Such is ever the way with what Jung called "the shadow", the unconscious mind that acts in opposition to our conscious self-image. Thus it is that over time, Liberal and Labour may find themselves trading ideological places.
For now, Howard and Co, with their talk of a "relaxed and comfortable" Australia, have turned Centrelink into a bureaucratic monster.
Consider the good old days
You showed up at Centrelink with your documentation, grumbled in a queue for 10 minutes, had your details entered, were issued with an interim pension card so you cd at least afford a bus fare to look for work, and you went home. While you were sleeping, Centrelink did a background check, and your notice arrived in the mail with your payment details. END OF STORY
- Ring up. Are read an interminable list of disclaimers and rights (which every Australian citizen used to be able to take for granted). Your details are noted. A flurry of letters result, including "Confirmation of your intention to claim" and "Preliminary Claim for Newstart."
- This phone interview, however, is merely an interview to make an appointment for a 2nd phone interview. !!! But alas! Phone interviewers are booked out for another 10 days,.
- Mind you, the 2nd phone interview will not be your intake either. It is merely an interview to make an appointment for a 3rd interview :-) !!!
In the meantime, how is she to afford the busfare to look for work , or her medications?*
Fortunately, her backpay has finally arrived, so she personally will be able to limp along, but what about all the other poor buggers who are in the private rental market with no income?
Posted by DH at 9:13 am
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Posted by DH at 9:47 am
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Just a few things were misunderstood, probably lost among the verbiage due to DH's fondness for extended qvetching.
- DH is not personally threatened at this stage with expulsion from public housing due to "high" income, as she is not on a fixed term lease, having been a tenant before 2005.
- She did not sit on her bum being unemployed for 8 years straight. Her unemployment is intermittent, 8 of her 18 years as a sole parent. This is a result of: the insecurities of contract work; lack of affordable child care; and the added pressures of raising a child with a disability.
While right-wing governments would love to force all workers onto contract, social security systems which require predictability and simple rules, cannot cope.
This is why DH went through the hell of being hauled before the Rent Tribunal (see earlier months of this blog) and why she is constantly paying money back to Centrelink for reasons that are beyond even her advanced Excel skills.
- DH did not end up earning $46,000 this year, as her circumstances changed since talking to the Herald. She only started work mid-financial year. The spreadsheet below reports the actual situation (with $87 a week left after fixed expenses). At the time she spoke to Debra her spreadsheet was based on her full-time wage, but as the carer of a demanding teenager with a disability, she had to give up full-time work. Thanks to this, she was spared this year from having to pay HECS and Austudy.
D'oH calculates rent on Gross income before HECS/Austudy comes off, thus creating a disincentive to education as well as work.
Posted by DH at 8:34 am
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Posted by DH at 12:06 pm
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Posted by DH at 12:01 pm
Posted by DH at 10:49 am
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Balance sheet: No change. Bank penalties due to insufficient funds $70 and climbing.
DH has been under house arrest for two days as she doesnt have the bus fare or the price of a latte to make it worth going out... Just as well the fridge is well-stocked. OK, so she and daughter are not starving because if worst comes to the worst she can put the hard word on someone.
And though she had to go cold turkey off some of her medications when they ran out, as it will be weeks before she gets her pension card and she cant afford them otherwise, its not life-threatening, just uncomfortable, and means she doesnt get enough sleep and snaps at her daughter.
She is doing this blog not because she is really in despair, but because she wants it on the record that this can happen to well-educated, competent, formerly middle-class women.
Posted by DH at 11:53 am
Monday, August 14, 2006
Here is one reason why DH was glad her contract ended. She worked 4 days (28 hours) per week. (As the parent of a disabled teenager, part-time work was all she could handle.) After D'oH rent, transport, privatised health costs, and fixed costs like gas and electricity, she had only $87 a week left.
$87 a week had to cover food, drygoods, clothes, cosmetics, repairs, emergencies, household goods, medical and dental gap fees, taxis, holidays, daughter's university fees, textbooks, stationery and consumables, not to mention female unmentionables, and basic social capital goods, eg newspapers, club and organisation membership fees, outings, accidental losses, presents, charity donations, lattes…
So how does her family survive?
Her daughter also gets a disability pension, a princely sum of $160 per week. That's it, $240 per week for everything. She borrows from her mother's age pension at the beginning of the week, and her mother borrows it back at the end.
Why doesn't she work full-time or get a higher paying job?
Rent and tax take the bulk of it. Once she earns a certain amount, the percentage that goes on rent also increases. And once she earns over that, she begins to pay HECS, and Austudy, and must pay rent on the gross amount including money she nevers sees. And if she was one of the unfortunates who got their housing after 2005 and was on a fixed tenancy, she would be facing eviction for earning "too much".
Posted by DH at 6:36 pm
Balance Sheet: Ezybanking: $19.95 DR. Mastercard $1418.15 DR; Daughter's a/c $15.70; Cash on hand; $5 + breadcrumbs found in a coat pocket, half a jar of 5 and 10 centpieces, Investments: Nil. Car: Nil.
It's all getting a bit too much like convict-era England. DH expects to be shipped off to Nauru any day now for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread.
She had to go into town, but didnt have the ante for a Metro 10. Nor could she afford 4 times $2.80 to do her errands. Though she is entitled to a Pension Card, she estimates it will be at least 3 weeks before the bureaucracy sends her her card.
So what could she do? She borrowed her daughter's pension card and fraudulently bought a pensioner excursion ticket!
The Outraged Taxpayer should just chill out. The State's coffers are still $98.50 in the black, as DH is still paying off a $100 fine when she got busted for using an out-of-date pension card for similar reasons earlier this year.
Posted by DH at 8:35 am
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Yeah right. That's what DH chooses too. But as she doesnt even have the bus fare to Manly, she'll take one of the latter two.
The dilemma.: Should DH apply for Newstart now and go through the indignities of the dole diary, plus a possible 3 week period without payment while DH's pitiful holiday pay (about $850 net) peters out, or should she go for Carer's payment, which pays more, won't harass her as much, and is non-taxable, but risk another 12 week* wait with only $82 a fortnight income the whole time which is what happened last August when her previous job ended. Not to mention having to haul her daughter before the expensive medical specialist who knows her case (2 month waiting list) (and who chooses not to bulk bill).
Posted by DH at 3:20 am
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
With only $35 left in her account, DH has been hanging out desperately for her final pay.
To her shock, it wasnt in her account this morning.
Ringing her company's accountant, she was informed that, being a termination payment, she was getting a cheque in lieu of the usual direct depost.
DH is very upset because her direct debit to HCF (health insurance) will now bounce, incurring a $35 bank fee. Plus her medications ran out a couple of days ago and she can't afford to replace them. This will mean a great deal of discomfort, though she expects to live...
She does not like to borrow from friends. It's the same old story, the ones who are generous are also poor. The ones who have money have psychic barriers that DH can't hope to scale. She finds it all very humiliating.
WIth only $30 in her account, plus about $70 left of her daughter's disability pension ($330 a fortnight) its going to be a tough week!
Posted by DH at 6:51 pm
Friday, August 04, 2006
Although she is utterly overwhelmed, blissed out, high on oxytocin, fatigued, and in love with the new bub, DH cannot resist drawing a lesson from this awesome event.
The newborn is half Irish-Australian, half Polynesian-Australian.
The Godmothers are Aboriginal-Australian and Jewish-Australian.
The Doctors in the delivery room were by the looks of them, Anglo-Australian, Japanese-Australian, and Chinese-Australian.
The Theatre nurses and Midwives were English-Australian, Anglo-Australian, Of-Middle-Eastern-Appearance-Australian, and Indian-Australian.
And just to round off the atmosphere of ethnic and religious harmony, DH spent a long time in the waiting room overcoming her tendancy to xenophobia in conversation with a nice young Muslim-Australian waiting to operated on after an industrial accident.
All this mixed multitude is the "real" Australia, living and working together in harmony.
Now why can't it always be like this?
Posted by DH at 11:39 pm
Thursday, August 03, 2006
DH rings Centrelink to advise her intention to claim a welfare payment. Advised by poorly-trained young Centrelink call centre worker to apply for Newstart rather than Carer's Payment because Newstart pays more!!!
Oh dear. News for Centrelink staff. Newstart pays about $100 less than Carer's Payment, and is taxable to boot.
But let's put this down to human error and move on, it's only day 1 after all.
Posted by DH at 6:27 pm
Balance Sheet: Ezybanking: $35.50 CR. Mastercard $1418.15 DR; Daughter's account: $93.68 Cash on hand; ~$15 + half a jar of 5 and 10 cent pieces. Investments: Nil. Car: Nil.
DH is unemployed again as of today.
Alas, lest she find herself in breech of some arcane new Kafkalink ruling, she must draw a veil of mystery over the circumstances of her severance, and can only say that her contract ended.
However, let her whisper the words "Work Disincentive" in your shell-like. There wasn't much financial carrot in the job, once D'oH had had their cut, once she lost her pensioner subsidies on things like transport and medications, (whose main purpose was to keep her tottering off to work in the first place).
See "$181 a week. How far can you stretch it?" below. She was only a few dollars better off than she was on the Carer's Pension, except that she was perpetually exhausted, and stressed out to boot, since her caring duties had not lessened one whit.
So since she baulked on the carrot of "Welfare to Workhouse", let Centrelink do its worst with the stick.
As a service to the public DH will be faithfully charting her descent through the
Abandon all hope, o, ye who enter here.
LET THE BUNGLING BEGIN!
Posted by DH at 6:00 pm
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Good news! DH's market rent has been reassessed at $25 less this year than last.
That's $370 per week for a small two bedroom townhouse in the Inner West of Sydney.
That's a fair rent relative to the current climate of crisis in housing affordability.
But it also shows how terrifying the situation is for normal low income renters. DH's contract with her current employer ends this week. She's about to join the ranks of the unemployed.
Now DH loves a good horror movie, so just to get the chills running up and down her spine, she did a few sums, to put herself in the shoes of her unfortunate fellow Aussies, low income earners who do not have a hope in hell of getting into public housing.
Newstart is set at $410 a fortnight, rent assistance about S100, and her daughter's Disability Pension at $320 per fortnight.
If DH was in the private rent market in her area, heres how it would look
Household income pw $415
Rent per week $370
Leaving $35 per week for food, utilities, fares ....
You poor buggers renting privately in John Howard's Brave New Australia!
You say you voted for who?????
Posted by DH at 4:22 pm
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Posted by DH at 10:48 pm