Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Housos and Labor: Stockholm Syndrome? Election comment from Garry Mallard

As the clock ticks towards the NSW state elections, DH has received the following email from Garry Mallard, the Co-ordinator of the National Tenant Support Network, and generally considered to be one of the most knowledgable and influential housos in Australia.

From Garry

I wonder how many of your readers are familiar with the condition known as, "Stockholm syndrome" ? If you're a low income earner and/or a public housing tenant, and you vote Labor, chances are you're a sufferer... tho, you may not consciously realise it.

The condition refers to an emotional attachment to a captor formed by a hostage as a result of continuous stress, dependence, and a need to cooperate with said oppressor for survival. The syndrome was 'coined' in pathology following an incident in Stockholm in 1973, during which a bank employee became romantically attached to a robber who held her hostage. What has this to do with Labor? Everything!

The working classes; the battler and the underdog, have traditionally voted for Labor because, equally traditionally, Labor has sold itself as their advocate and protector. Yet it is Labor that is the architect of the residualising housing policies we're subject to today. It is Labor, not the Liberal-Country Coalition that has destroyed the concept of security of tenure. It is Labor that has so residualised public housing that the only people who qualify (at time of writing) are those most desperately in need of housing....those experiencing the worst form of disadvantage. They alone get a guernsey under Labor. Great news for one-armed, sociopathic, quadriplegic, drug addicted, comatose, banjo virtuosos, with acute tinnitus and a harelip. Not so good news for the rest of us.

It is Labor that has introduced a formal policy (March 16, 2007) enabling the Department to shift you whether you like it or not, for "management purposes", which include getting in the way of property developers. It is Labor that can evict you for refusing to move when asked.
It is Labor that introduces these draconian policies to cover the terrible truth.....it doesn't build houses like it used to in halcyon days of yore and Green Bans! When you don't create additional resources (houses) you have little choice but to tighten the rules about who gets to inhabit a shrinking resource. And as the houses built at a time when Labor WAS Labor crumble with age, so Labor of the 3rd millennium tightens eligibility still more.

In fact, if Labor keeps tightening eligibility at the current rate, and given another decade to avoid its responsibilities, practically no one will be eligible for public housing....the waiting list will be zero and the Department will boast tens of thousands of vacant homes - supply will outstrip demand and, lo, there will be a cheer from the tax-payer and bunting will stream at every mast in celebration. And it will tout this result as an example of responsible management.....the operation a success!

Despite this, come March 24, the working classes; the battler and the underdog will vote for Labor AGAIN! They might just as well drop their pants when leaving the polling booth, to facilitate the next 4 years of Labor rogering they've chosen for themselves.

For a decade, when asked why the social housing sector is going to the dogs (if only the dogs had houses), Labor's response has been various variations on, "It's the Coalitions fault! The Feds have gutted the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement!" Yes, there is no denying that's true, but NSW voted for a Labor state govt. The role of a state govt is to manage the business that is the State. In any other business, where a manager employed to solve problems proved to be incapable of doing so, the owners of the business would sack that manager. Not so in the case of the business known as NSW, oh no. We assess the managers' performance from time to time and, finding it wanting, we extend his/her contract. Stockholm syndrome! We identify with our oppressor....we even parrot its philosophies.

Right about now, those of you with advanced, acute and incurable Stockholm syndrome will be saying, "If we had a Coalition govt we'd really be in the sh*t!!!" In rebuttal I offer a response I've not uttered since 6th class, "Prove it, go-orn, I dare ya!" The fact is we don't know we'd be worse off with Johnny & Co. In fact, judged on social housing performance alone, I challenge anyone to suggest a horror future scenario under the Libs that Labor hasn't already either implemented or foreshadowed.

There are other parties to vote for.....there are other ways to send messages to govt. There are 300,000 + (yes, three-hundred-thousand plus) votes in NSW social housing...not to mention all the votes sitting on waiting lists, and all the votes wondering why "affordable housing" is a term relevant only to lotto winners these days. That's a lot of messages! Regardless of who you choose to give your vote to, every vote you don't give your oppressor is a step toward your recovery from the dreaded Stockholm Syndrome.

DH's response
DH herself believes that Housos should stick with the ALP, not necessarily as voters, but as members. It may look almost impossible to distinguish the Lab right from the Lib left, but there is a lot of symbolic leverage that can still be extracted from the ALP's traditional commitment to socialism. It's up to the battlers to get politically active on their own behalf, to learn the system and use it. We are not living in compassionate times, everyone is running scared, and if you don't look after yourself, there are only a very few benevolent souls and organisations left who will. DH would like those 300,000 people plus all their mates, the private renters, to take it on themselves to stack every branch in the ALP, support good candidates, and let all the political parties feel their muscle. And of course, irrespective of party membership, whoever you actually vote for when the crunch comes is between you and the ballot box.

3 comments:

Himself said...

Well, there's something of a problem here.

1. It is wrong to suggest that things 'couldn't be worse' under the Libs: they could be. The Libs could completely abolish public housing, selling it off. Brogden's public service cuts could only further deteriorate the service at the drastically understaffed DOH.

2. DH is right to argue that being a member of the Labor Party may help you guide it in the right direction, while voting for it will only confirm the bastards in their complacency. The problem is that if you are in the ALP you are a) expected to vote Labor b) expected to tell everyone else to vote Labor . You could preference another party without the ALP finding out and expelling you, but to suggest voting for another party will certainly get you expelled, no? That's the determining reason why I won't join the ALP: I believe that voters who want the ALP to move to the left should send out a clear message by voting Green, even if they are closer to the ALP's politics that the Greens'.

Garry said...

Stockholm Syndrome - I rest my case!

Yes, I've heard the hysterical bleat, "but they'll sell all the public housing" the sky will fall. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the evidence justifying that paranoia would be? And the difference between selling-off public housing, and privatising it through stealth either by selling it off or clear-felling it one estate at a time (Dubbo, Minto, Bonnyrigg, St Mary's) or via transfers to community housing organisations and banks like Westpac in 35 year Public Private Partnership redevelopment deals a la Bonnyrigg would be what exactly.....??

And just for the record, Labor has been in power for the 12 years during which, public housing stock has decreased in a not-inconsiderable way. Labor doesn't build additional homes. It just builds the odd new one from time to time and calls it "new" - NEW not ADDITIONAL. Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the pre-election media bumf will have seen how the Iemma govt's $230 million affordable housing (election) strategy has been totally and profoundly debunked by annalists, who have also exposed the fact that the only new money going to housing in the aforementioned election promise is $30 million dredged up from interest on Rental Bond Board investments and unclaimed bonds.....in other words tenants - punters on the waiting list and/or in housing stress are subsidising the Iemma Govt's pre-election fraud.

And who introduced the "Relocating tenants for Management Purposes" policy that was dropped on the DoH website by dead of night on March 16, giving the department guiding parameters by which it has the power to shuffle tenants around as it pleases, for whatever reason takes its fancy? Who has gradually robbed NSW tenants of every provision of the act and management convention that once made public housing the bastion of security and affordability it once was? Was it the Greens....the Democrats...the Coalition....the Shooters' Party perhaps? No....it was Labor. And Labor is doing the same thing right around the Nation, robbing tenants of the security of tenure they once enjoyed - selling off stock rather than building additional units.

There is plenty of money in NSW to solve the housing crisis. It simply isn't the govt's priority to do so, because it knows that of all the portfolios, public housing is the only human service it can totally ignore without fear of criticism from the tax payer. It can do that because a Labor Minister (and 2 predecessors) keeps running the sector down in the media - "Public Housing is housing of last resort!" "The Department is the Landlord of last resort!" "Housing is a hand-up when you need it, not a hand-out for life!" "We're getting tough on bad tenants" - and in this statement in particular govt conveniently forgets that it now only houses "those most in need" who are often those least capable of taking responsibility for their own actions - the new target groups - the mentally ill - the homeless (who are often mentally ill) - "people who cannot maintain a tenancy in the private sector" (the mentally ill again, the drug addicted and Indigenous people to name a few) - the frail-aged - " Is offering housing only to people who are the most disadvantaged and least capable of sustaining successful tenancies and then kicking said disadvantaged people while they're down, all part of the state Labor manifesto is it?

Honestly, why vote Labor again? What is it we have to be grateful for? Why do we do it? The last one's easy to answer. We do it because that's what we always do!

I say it again, Stockholm Syndrome!

Garry

Garry said...

Stockholm Syndrome - I rest my case!

Yes, I've heard the hysterical bleat, "but they'll sell all the public housing" the sky will fall. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the evidence justifying that paranoia would be? And the difference between selling-off public housing, and privatising it through stealth either by selling it off or clear-felling it one estate at a time (Dubbo, Minto, Bonnyrigg, St Mary's) or via transfers to community housing organisations and banks like Westpac in 35 year Public Private Partnership redevelopment deals a la Bonnyrigg would be what exactly.....??

And just for the record, Labor has been in power for the 12 years during which, public housing stock has decreased in a not-inconsiderable way. Labor doesn't build additional homes. It just builds the odd new one from time to time and calls it "new" - NEW not ADDITIONAL. Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the pre-election media bumf will have seen how the Iemma govt's $230 million affordable housing (election) strategy has been totally and profoundly debunked by annalists, who have also exposed the fact that the only new money going to housing in the aforementioned election promise is $30 million dredged up from interest on Rental Bond Board investments and unclaimed bonds.....in other words tenants - punters on the waiting list and/or in housing stress are subsidising the Iemma Govt's pre-election fraud.

And who introduced the "Relocating tenants for Management Purposes" policy that was dropped on the DoH website by dead of night on March 16, giving the department guiding parameters by which it has the power to shuffle tenants around as it pleases, for whatever reason takes its fancy? Who has gradually robbed NSW tenants of every provision of the act and management convention that once made public housing the bastion of security and affordability it once was? Was it the Greens....the Democrats...the Coalition....the Shooters' Party perhaps? No....it was Labor. And Labor is doing the same thing right around the Nation, robbing tenants of the security of tenure they once enjoyed - selling off stock rather than building additional units.

There is plenty of money in NSW to solve the housing crisis. It simply isn't the govt's priority to do so, because it knows that of all the portfolios, public housing is the only human service it can totally ignore without fear of criticism from the tax payer. It can do that because a Labor Minister (and 2 predecessors) keeps running the sector down in the media - "Public Housing is housing of last resort!" "The Department is the Landlord of last resort!" "Housing is a hand-up when you need it, not a hand-out for life!" "We're getting tough on bad tenants" - and in this statement in particular govt conveniently forgets that it now only houses "those most in need" who are often those least capable of taking responsibility for their own actions - the new target groups - the mentally ill - the homeless (who are often mentally ill) - "people who cannot maintain a tenancy in the private sector" (the mentally ill again, the drug addicted and Indigenous people to name a few) - the frail-aged - " Is offering housing only to people who are the most disadvantaged and least capable of sustaining successful tenancies and then kicking said disadvantaged people while they're down, all part of the state Labor manifesto is it?

Honestly, why vote Labor again? What is it we have to be grateful for? Why do we do it? The last one's easy to answer. We do it because that's what we always do!

I say it again, Stockholm Syndrome!

Garry