On Tuesday (19 November), Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, himself almost asleep at the sound of his own words (if not at the wheel of Australia’s tanking economy), mumbled stuff about the problem with old people.
JOSH HAS AN 'IDEA'
“It would boost our economy”, said Josh, if ageing Australians would retrain and keep working, while muttering under his breath, If only we could get them to stop being old and living so long.
It was a press conference that – although delivered in a hushed monotone, possibly in the hope that no one would be listening – actually got people’s attention. Certainly, the Treasurer’s words captured the interest of older Australians.
The aged, according to Josh’s wisdom are a drag “on the health system, aged care system, pension system” … and, well, just a general drag. Because let’s face it, there would be no need for aged care without older people. There would probably be no need for a public health system, either, if they just dropped dead on the job — though, preferably, when they got home, ‘cos dying at work would only create increased WorkCare payouts. And certainly, there would be no need to dish out $5.9 billion in franking credits, since they would no longer be voting.
THE PROBLEM WITH OLD PEOPLE
“We see it as an opportunity,” said Frydenberg. Yes, an opportunity for his no-policy Government to pass the buck once again. Like the unemployed, workers, unions and, of course, the Labor Party, senior Australians are the Government’s latest punching bag.
And it’s easy to see why. After all, it’s not as though the Reserve Bank can do much more, it’s not as though poor people can spend any more of the money they don’t have. It’s not as though those on Newstart can spend anything at all. And now it looks as though even the riches from Robodebt will be drying up.
Not that the Treasurer had any ideas of how older people might be retrained and for what.
Not that he had any suggestions of where all these older people, whether they were able to retrain or not, might go.
And while he suggested that it should be up to “employers to provide more opportunity in the workforce for senior Australians”, it’s not as though the Treasurer had any clues about how this could be achieved.
Clearly, only working our older Australians to the bone, getting rid of the aged pension, forcing people onto the grossly inadequate Newstart and issuing them with degrading Indue Cards as thanks for their years of paying taxes, can stimulate the economy. That, apparently, is Josh “No Idea” Frydenberg’s new plan.
Pushing more people into an already overstretched workforce, with unemployment at 5.3%, youth unemployment at a staggering 12.4% and where 8.5% are underemployed is tantamount to introducing cane toads to control beetles. But not to worry. It will take a few years until the cracks between to show and by then, this Government will have been voted out and/or Josh and his cronies will have new careers in the offices of their well-heeled donors.
Of course, the real problem is not an ageing population but an ageing economy. While the rest of the world is embracing new technologies and innovations, Australia remains mired in the 1950s, riding on the sheep’s back and digging up minerals.
But it is clear the Morrison Government does not have the wherewithal to tackle real solutions. Instead, it remains shackled to the dogma from whence political donations flow: worshipping at the altar of coal and assorted fossil fuels. Never mind that coal is a dying industry, the Morrison Government is intent on pillaging the Earth and its ageing citizens until they all dry up for good.
And as long as it is doing that, the Government is not addressing the fact that we already have a highly educated workforce but a quarry economy. It is not taking advantage of our abundant natural resources and transitioning to renewable energies. It is not using our highly educated workforce to create new technologies. It is not utilising our innovative workforce for infrastructure projects. And it's certainly not investing in its greatest resource: the Australian people.
There is a problem with old people — the old, tired, unimaginative people in Government squandering Australia’s riches and blaming the voters.
This is only half the story! Read more about the issues the Government is disregarding in the IA members-only area. It takes less a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a small sum for superb journalism and lots of extras.
Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.