Saturday, December 30, 2006

O brethren!

What a spiritual time we are all having this Christmas! - first it's Brother Kevin's call to arms for the disabled (his government will help those who help themselves, or else.), And now, the Brethren are back.

Who'dda thought it? Back in the 60's when DH was a schoolgirl, the Exclusive Brethren were regularly denounced in screaming headlines in Brisbane's Sunday Tabloid for the evil sect that they were, for their bizarre practises primarily the isolation and destruction of dissenting families.

Extraordinary to think how much more progressive the tabloids were in those days. DH looked in vain today for the Daily Telegraph to cash in on the hot story of the Brethren pedophile coverup reported in today's SMH.

Nor do we hear John Howard, that champion of women's liberation from un-Australian practises denouncing his campaign contributors for their anti-family, un-Australian behaviour.

DH thought the Brethren had gone. But it seems they merely went underground to clone and breed silently and amass fortunes for manipulating our democracy for their own sick ends.

And Howard allows this bizarre cult to feed from his private school education funding slush!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Brother Kevin, consider the lilies, for God's sake!

Kevin Rudd, who has made much of the traditional Christian virtues, announced yesterday that Labor will keep Howard's tough Welfare-to-Workhouse criteria for the disabled

Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do the spin, but Solomon, in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew, 6:28)

Consider the disabled, who must now toil and spin at least 15 to 30 hours a week for 48 weeks a year!

Consider low income workers, who for whatever reason, lack the drive, the genes, the energy or the IQ, to amass money, who must spend a lifetime from 16 to 65 being frogmarched through a compulsory work regime, only 4 weeks reprieve a year, controlled and disciplined, condemned to producing all kinds of baubles and trash, for the out-of-control consumption of those more fortunate.
Consider that the only escape these (virtually) indentured labourers may have from the relentless round of exploitation for scant reward is when they finally crack up, get depressed, get injured, injure themselves and go on the pitifully inadequate disability pension.
And now you want to stuff them willy-nilly back into the system???
Consider whether anyone is to be allowed to rest, ever, no matter how bereaved, how crippled, how maimed, how troubled, how weary.
Oh, brother!
Consider, too, global warming and the carbon costs of these baubles, of getting workers to and from the workplace to manufacture the baubles, and the paper generated by the bureaucracies that get them there.

Consider all this, and awake up to thyself, brother, lest even thou failest to pass through the eye of the needle when Judgment Day is upon thee.

Consider by all means, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and be inspired by his martyrdom, but don't forget the source of it all, the Protestant Work Ethic which brought us both the joys and evils of Capitalism, and its logical extension... Arbeit Macht Frei.

Work sets you free

Sign on the Gates of Auschwitz

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Carol for Our Times

or, What the Dickens is this country coming to?

Mummy, who are the Merry Gentlemen in the picture?
Hush darling and eat your Christmas gruel.

But mummy, why do the gentlemen look so merry?
Because they have a Monopoly of the Government which means they can do whatever they want.

Can they stay up as late as they want and never have to go to sleep?
Hush now darling, and let me tuck you in. Mummy has to go to work now.

But Mummy, it's Christmas!
Yes, darling, but Mummy traded away her Christmas holiday to buy you your lovely gruel, remember?

B-b-but mummy, I don't like my gruel anymore.
Yes darling I know, but after Mummy paid the mean landlord from the D'oH 30% of her wages, plus 30% to the ATO, plus 6% to HECS and 4% to repay her Austudy Supplement Loan, and on top of that because she is a contractor, 9% of her wage to fund her own super, she had to spend the rest of her wages on buying your drinking water, so she didnt have any money left over to buy turnips this year.

Mummy, will we have turnips for Christmas next year, do you think, if I am very, very good?
Yes sweetie, because Mummy has joined a Union, and they will fight for our right to eat turnips every year!

What's a Union, Mummy?
Well, once upon a time, long long ago, when the land was flowing with latte and honey, before everyone worked 60 hours a week with no overtime or penalty rates, for $3.50 an hour, Unions used to fight for our Rights.

What are "Rights", Mummy?
SHH!!! Don't ask so many questions! Someone might hear us! And anyway, mummy can't remember anymore

But how did the unions fight for our Rights, Mummy?
Well darling they used to go out on this thing called a strike.

Could we go out on a stwike, Mummy?
No darling, we would have to pay a big big fine, like a billion zillion trillion dollars, and the mean men could put us in jail.

Don't worry mummy. I'm going to SHOOT those mean men with my GREAT BIG BLASTERATOR, and I'm going to buy you as many turnips as you can eat EVERY Christmas!

Suddenly, a mighty crashing and banging is heard from the chimney:

And then, in a twinkling, was heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of many a hoof,
As mother and child were turning around,
Down the chimney a figure leapt out with a bound


We have reason to believe that you have been spreading SEDITION and inciting a minor to call the Prime Minister a "Nasty Little Meanie". And I'll take that Blasterator, Sonny. One more stwike and you're out!

As for you, valued Centrelink Customer, No. CRN 125 904 038, it has come to our attention that you do not have a Treating Practitioners Report in triplicate explaining why you are late for work. Therefore the terms of your individual contract are now void.

Thanks to Government Reforms making Australia Fairer,
You're Breached!

And with that, the SAS storm trooper tore the workhouse ID tag off the Mummy's ankle, and smashed his way out through the front door.

I'm scared Mummy.
Don't worry darling. We'll go down to Vinnies, and we might be able to convince the nice old 12 Step Veterans down there to give us some yummy tins of recycled beetroot and creamed corn, some No Frills tuna in bilge, and if we're very lucky, even some instant mashed potato flakes!!!! Now wont that be fun?!

Season's Greetings
One and All

This is Australia,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Grub calling the kettle Schwarts?

All it takes is a couple of grubs to give tenants a bad name. (Rob Schwarten, Qld Housing Minister).

DH is shocked to think that Rob Schwarten could be so uncomradely as to call his fellow State Housing Ministers "grubs". Just because a couple of them like to lead the charge when it comes to bad-mouthing their tenants is no excuse for calling them names!
And anyway, look who's talking! If DH was game to flout libel laws, the rumours she could pass on about this pillar of respectability's behaviour when he's at home!!! Suffice it to opine that what we see here is a low Labor populist, a traitor to the values of the party he represents and the people who fought for them. Another politician determined to hang in there by Beattying the sh*t out of anyone who looks like they might get between him and the next election result.
Schwarten might like to consider that hoarding rubbish is a symptom of mental illness. And the more that public housing fills up with people with mental illnesses, in the absence of decent mental health policies, the "grubbier" its going to get. We already have 100, 000 homeless people in Australia sleeping out every night.
Great mental health policy, Robby!
DH loves the extract from the article below, viz. the tenants "managed to avoid the department for 5 years". In her experience, it's the department, under the instructions of its ministers, who manage to avoid the tenants, and manage very well.
And a nice touch from the workers' party, pitting the weak against the weak in some kind of vicious class warfare cock-fight, "Given the collapse of the private rental market and the number of people on the social housing list looking for assistance, I am sure that we could find people willing to threat their public housing property with respect."
At least Schwarten has admitted the collapse of the private rental market. Now wouldnt you think a creative government would be doing something constructive about that, instead of kicking the dogs that are down.
By Kerrie-Ann Hobbs
, 16 December, 2006
ABC News Online
Neighbours have been urged to dob-in public housing tenants who trash their homes.
Housing Minister Robert Schwarten vowed to evict residents damaging their State-owned homes or harassing neighbours.
The Minister's tough talk follows The Cairns Post's expose on how some tenants were ignoring requests for inspections and turning their homes and yards into rubbish dumps.
"There is no excuse for wilful damage or bad behaviour and it will not be tolerated, and Department of Housing staff have my full backing in evicting anyone who does not treat social housing with the respect it deserves", Mr Schwarten said.
"We expect a high level of responsibility from all our tenants and all it takes is a couple of grubs to give the rest of social housing tenants a bad name.
"Given the collapse of the private rental market and the number of people on the social housing list looking for assistance, I am sure that we could find people willing to threat their public housing property with respect."
Earlier this week, Bentley Park real-estate told the Cairns Post they were disgusted with the condition of a public house in Lady Penrhyn Close.
They told how the former tenants had managed to avoid government inspections for the past 5 years.

Posted By DH to Diary of a Desperate Houso at 12/19/2006 01:26:00 AM

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kafkalink strikes again

Just for the record, DH's last visit to Kafkalink on the very straightforward matter of handing in a medical certificate once again totalled the system.

As usual, supervisors, trainers, and assorted experts had to be called in and soon a small crowd of Centrelink functionaries had collected around the computer, like a gaggle of confused chooks, desperately pecking at the keyboard, clicking their tongues, breaking into subgroups for hushed confabulations, calling in further reinforcements, scratching their heads and still the system resolutely refused to yield up its secrets.

It's a joy to watch, and DH can heartily recommend this form of comic entertainment laid on free for the masses, which beats paying $11 for some of the bilge pouring out of Hollywood.

But all good things must end, and eventually DH sorted it out for them, by tracing the problem back to (see November 27th ) the failure of Kafkalink's invitation to Work Capacity Test to advise her to bring a medical certificate, which meant that the work capacity tester could not make a recommendation., which meant that ... oh, life is too short. The system is completely arse over gizzard and nothing makes sense. Pity the poor buggers who work there.

Footprint Rights for All Australians

What are the chances of all Australian residents having the right to occupy their own footprint without being moved on? We dont want a MacMansion. Just a a pair of waterproof insole shaped to fit will do, perhaps with an umbrella thrown in.


  • the last hope for permanence gone for the working class and the unemployed as Public Housing becomes Public Temporary Accommodation
  • Aspirational public housing tenants discouraged from working due to the threat of loss of permanence
  • Community Housing rumoured to be subject to "Reshaping Public Housing" anytime soon
  • 100,000 people going homeless every night (Read this and weep). And no, they are not all drunk old blokes either. Kevin Rudd's family was once amongst them.
  • 70,000 on the waiting list for public housing in NSW alone
  • The Howard Govt being so comatose on the issue that even the Property Council of Australia is beginning to look like the Socialist Alliance by comparison
Consider that serfs in the dark ages had permanent tenure and only had to pay 10% of their output for the privelige

The trouble with John Howard is he is just not delivering SerfChoices fast enough. Perhaps we've all misjudged the man, he's a visionary after all, rearview mirror notwithstanding.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Merry Xmas, your home is being demolished. Cheers, Your Housing Minister

The letter sent to tenants at Lilyfield has found its way to DH, straight from the Brutalist School of Correspondence with the Lower Classes.

Charming, innit? ... No velvet gloves, polite phrases or Noble Lies need be wasted on the underclasses. No "Your tenancy is important to us. Terribly sorry for inconveniencing you "somewhat(!)". It must have left some tenants guessing how soon is "not immediately".

Just plain rude.

November 2006

Dear XXX

In order to provide improved public housing, the Department of Housing has decided to redevelop the property you are currently living in. I am writing to provide you with some initial information about what this means for you. You will not have to move immediately. The Department will meet with you to discuss your circumstances and make alternative arrangements for you.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to: •
· Move temporarily and return after the redevelopment is complete, or •
· Move permanently to another dwelling (in this or another area of your choice)

Client service staff from your local office will be in touch with you during the next two weeks to arrange to meet with you to discuss your specific needs. The Department aims to provide you with accommodation which is at least equal to the type and amenity of your current dwelling, taking your current circumstances into account. We would ask that you discuss any specific needs you may have with the staff member who meets with you.

The Department will pay for all reasonable relocation costs. I appreciate that the relocation process may cause you some inconvenience and disruption, and for this reason the Department
will be as flexible as is reasonably possible to find alternative accommodation which meets your present wishes and lifestyle. I am therefore confident that we will be able to provide you with accommodation which meets your needs.

It is the Department’s intention that you will not be financially disadvantaged by this relocation. All reasonable re-establishment costs will be paid for by the Department, and this includes: •
· Removalist costs •
· Telephone reconnection •
· Electricity reconnection •
· Gas reconnection •
· Mail redirection for 3 months.

In some instances, reimbursement for permanent improvements (which have been approved by the Department), and window coverings and light fittings will be approved (up to a reasonable amount), if not provided at the alternative accommodation. You should discuss any of these requests with the staff member who meets with you regarding your needs.

Necessary maintenance will continue to be carried out to your home. You should continue to request urgent maintenance from the Housing Contact Centre on 131571.

In order to commence the redevelopment, the Department may require access to the external areas of your property from time to time and your cooperation in this regard is appreciated. We will liaise with you when this is required. Access to the inside of your home is not likely to be

I hope I have addressed some of your initial concerns, however if you have any further questions after today, you should contact your Client Service Officer in the first instance.

Yours sincerely …


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Snooping around Lilyfield

The first DH heard about the proposed Lilyfield redevelopment was from someone at the Greens' stall at the Glebe Fair. The rather over-excited buzz was that the letters from the Ministers had gone out, the bulldozers were poised, the tenants were devastated, and some of them would be out before Christmas. DH had a moment of scepticism... hey that can't happen here, surely ... and sure enough, on closer questioning, it turned out that the letter hadn't quite said that, but the "person who delivered the letter" had, something a lot less verifiable.

Now DH did not want to go down in history as the Pastor Niemoller of Public Housing ... "When they came for Minto, I stayed silent, because I'm not a Westie, when they came for Bonnyrig, I stayed silent because I wasn't sure if Minto and Bonnyrig were the same place, when they came for Dubbo, I stayed silent because I'm not an Aboriginal, when they came for the Block the issues were too complex for my poor brain etc etc" , but Lilyfield was getting just a little bit close to home. Clearly what was needed was some research at ground zero, and thus it was that DH cd be spotted shortly thereafter snooping around the estate, taking pictures of what at first glance is a typical red brick 50's travesty. But a closer look reveals an unexpected and quite lovely oasis hidden away at the centre of the block.

More later about what she found out from the residents she managed to waylay, local politicians, and housing activists.

Snooping around Lilyfield, cont...

DH managed to speak to about 5 residents while prowling about. With 40 units slated for redevelopment, this in no way implies a valid sample of feeling on the estate as a whole.
However, of those 5, only 1 said they had any particular attachment to the place, or desire to return, and even that person was saying, "unless of course the temporary placement is better".

Housos are as rational as any other punters when it comes to real estate, and quite rightly are jockeying for the best home they can get for themeselves or their families. The others were keen to leave but only because their flats badly need maintenance. In the general climate of mistrust around razor-gang governments, property deals, and bungled policy, it is not surprising that there is a question hanging in the air: "Was the estate deliberately allowed to run down, so that the only option was to send in the bulldozers?". DH is not competent to judge, furthermore she is not lacking in trust, does not belong to that infantile brigade who profess to feel superior to "all pollies" from the comfort of their armchairs while making no attempt to test out their own unimpeachable ideals. ... Now seems like as good time as any to confess that she is a card-carrying member of the ALP, not because she is a true believer in "my party right or wrong" but because democracy relies on the active participation of its citizens.

That said, on with the fait accompli!

It seems that when Cherie Burton sent out her Big Announcement, she omitted to inform either the sitting member, Sandra Nori, or Verity Firth the incumbent candidate for the new seat of Balmain. Another less than impressive act from a Minister who is not making herself popular with her constituents. As a result, Verity Firth has been forced into damage control, door-knocking the distressed residents, doing her best to minimise their anxiety with the news that the Ministers' "oversight" put VF in a good bargaining position to extract a written guarantee that all who wanted to return could do so.

Can we trust her?

The activist brigade say, "Look at Minto. What good were written guarantees there? Dont be too trusting. The devil is in the detail. For instance, in Minto, yes, the stocks will be replenished, but they will be one bedroomers, so families can never return. Look for the hidden traps."


Shameless editorialising follows. Enter at own peril.

DH thinks that is irrelevant. Times are going to get tougher for obvious reasons. Oil, weather, economics, the falling $USD, a horrid climate of resentment and downward envy, fomented by our Crypto-Darwinist-In-Chief, John Howard, who has turned too many of us into a nation of individualists, struggling each against each and devil-take-the-hindmost.

There are no guarantees apart from what tenants can collectively work towards ourselves.

There is only one thing tenants can trust in and that is in building our own strong and trusting communities. By getting involved with the political process, by continuing to inform ourselves and broaden our understanding, in the spirit of "expecting the best and preparing for the worst", we can support our politicians to be the best representatives they can be. This applies to almost everyone. The majority of tenants innately have the intelligence, even if it's buried under years of disempowerment. Give the right seeds, they can lift their game. And most politicians go into the game out of a genuine desire to do good. An active citizenry can help them to keep on track.

In the meantime, as far as DH has been able to find out, while the demolition plans are out, to date no design plan exists for rebuilding...