It was the first day of March 2018. Though the aftermath of the Barnaby scandal was still washing around Parliament House and the people all along Northbourne Avenue in Northern Canberra were still mopping-up following an act of God, I dared to turn on the radio. With some trepidation, I set the dial to the ABC’s Radio National Breakfast program and Fran Kelly was speaking with a government minister who goes by the pseudonym of Dan Tehan. He was speaking about the Turnbull Government’s intention to reintroduce legislation to legalise compulsory drug and alcohol testing of New Start recipients. Who if they were to be found to have partaken of drugs or alcohol would be subjected to an “income maintenance” regime which would put 80% of their below-the-poverty-line income for things of which his government approved.
This “income maintenance” regime is a similar to that which Coalition and Labor Governments have forced upon Aboriginal people on 79 communities in the Northern Territory since 2007. It appears that their error of judgement was to allow themselves to be born Aboriginal and to be still living on their tradition lands rather than choosing to disappear. By such wilful action they were not only presuming on non-Indigenous humanity but were simultaneously presenting an obstacle to non-Indigenous people gaining ownership of land which they might like to acquire.
Tehan’s proposed drug testing regime “income maintenance” is also similar to a cashless welfare card scheme so enamoured by the likes of Twiggy don’t-give-blackfellas-money Forrest, billionaire and miner of Indigenous land. The cashless welfare card has been imposed in the East Kimberleys and Port Augusta because Indigenous people are a considerable percentage of residents there. There is another region where such vile policies are pursued and that is Logan City because Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, Pacific Islanders and Maoris constitute a substantial part of the population there.
Dan Tehan told Fran Kelly that the Government was wanting to drug test New Start recipients “to help them help themselves”. Despite Fran’s valiant attempt to alert him to the downsides of compulsory drug and alcohol testing of welfare recipients he pressed on undeterred. Fran noted that the Australian Medical Association, several drug rehabilitation academics and rehabilitation agencies have pointed out that compulsory testing and treatment is likely to interfere with rehabilitation. Tehan was too stupid to listen to her or acknowledge the possibility that the experts might know something that he, an arts graduate majoring in political science who also has a master’s degree in foreign affairs and trade, did not know. Perhaps he got to know a thing or two about drugs as minister for veteran’s affairs or minister for defence materiel. Or it could be that he is just bloody minded and ignorant.
The ABC should know that children listen to the Breakfast Program and that children should not be subjected to displays of such oafish stupidity by people purporting to be cabinet ministers. I despaired and went to town. Upon returning I fool heartedly turned on the radio to listen to the ABC’s PM program.
There were the dulcet tones of the hysterical senator Michaelia Cash from Western Australia screaming about the young women working in Bill Shorten’s Office about whom she had heard some rumours and if senator Doug Cameron did not stop asking her who in her office leaked to journalists, news about Federal police raids about to take place on the office of a union, she would use parliamentary privilege to spell out rumours she had heard about the young women.
Well what are we left with, Tehan might well make an excellent minister assisting the prime minister on ANZAC Day celebrations but he is totally unsuited to be minister for social security. Turnbull would assist every citizen were he to permanently station Tehan in the carpark at Anzac Cove and provide a demountable in which he could live 13 months of each year. Nothing can save Michaelia Cash from her own ugly mouth and mind. Every time she opens her mouth she detracts from the sum total of human decency. She should be permanently stationed at the old Lang Hancock lease in the town of Wittonoon.
Copyright © 2020 John Tomlinson