Politics Opinion

Governments create poverty and abandon the poor

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The governments of Australia have turned their backs on the homeless population (Image via Rawpixel)

Australia has the wealth to eradicate poverty and homelessness, yet our political leaders turn a blind eye to solving this economic crisis, writes Gerry Georgatos.

GOVERNMENTS, the voices of the elites, are the architects of not only poverty but also of doom. Globally, the world has more financial capacity than at any time in modernity to end not only the world’s extreme poverty, but all forms of poverty. Australia, the world’s 12th largest economy, has also a national net wealth treasure trove, so scandalously rich, that could end all poverty.

Instead, Australia is betrayingly demonising the poor as if they will always be with us — and the numbers are increasing, the divide is entrenched, with obvious permanency.

The sins of a nation are captured in its lies. The lies are schematically got away with. The media and the masses debate purpose-fit distractive agendas by Orwellian governments. Kafkaesque billionaires and multinationals reap hard and fast ever-increasing profits. Humanity is bloodied, mercilessly.

The figures do not lie. Australia claims a poverty line at thereabouts an individual earning less than $489 weekly. For a family of four – two adults and two children – less than $1,027. This is Melbourne University’s Henderson Poverty Line. I have written of a Georgatos Poverty Line, which lets us be serious about abject and relative poverty in this asset-rich nation, with its 47 billionaires.

Australia has the world’s most expensive home and land prices — the entrepreneur’s dream. The masses’ nightmare. Australia has a high cost of living. Life is increasingly unaffordable for many. The lowest quintile of income-base accounts for the highest proportion of suicidality.

One of the lies is that around 3.5% of eligible working Australians are unemployed. In my opinion, it is over 20%. Prove me wrong. Less than 75% of eligible working Australians are employed.

Nearly one and a half million Australians are underemployed with less than ten hours of work weekly.

The Henderson Poverty Line, seriously outdated, is used to argue that 14% of Australians are living in poverty, including 17% of Australia’s children. How is someone, in this country of $500 rent averages, dwindling ability to complete a mortgage in one’s lifetime, somehow not living in poverty if they’re on $480 income a week, or $550 a week, or $700 a week, or $800 a week? To rent a room in a share house, if you’re extremely lucky, is $100 a week, but more likely $150 to $200 weekly.

If we were to be serious about an Australian Poverty Line, an individual with $900 weekly is living poverty. In the Australian context, $470 a week is abject poverty — life is unaffordable. The Georgatos Poverty Line describes 40% of Australians living in poverty.

The 2023 Intergenerational Report as a document is evidence of the systemic failures. The whole report is an underreporting and masking of an increasing population left behind, and betrayed. The planet is burning but we continue to soften the language as climate change or as a crisis that we are idling to with incongruous transitional targets. All that is being transitioned is a planet that will be atmospherically hotter by several degrees mid-century, its crust warmer, more aridity, catastrophes that will cataclysmically kill hundreds of millions of humans.

Humankind has never faced this type of global Easter Island type doom. I’ve been an optimist most of my life, but the writing is on the wall, it’s in the numbers and the hard numbers are irreverent, they tell no lies. The Intergenerational Report is concerned about economic output reduced over the four decades, due to “climate change”. Should it not be concerned about the survival of the human species?

Good luck with the report being correct about population growth to a measly 40 million by 2063 — try holding back what will be billions, not millions, of displaced people.

The report fails to work with genuine unemployment and underemployment figures, fails to disaggregate to quintiles of income-base and socioeconomics and the psychosocial impacts, to the true extensiveness of abject and relative poverty and social implications.

Street homelessness is increasing. I estimate it has doubled in the last half decade and will double again in the next three years. My estimations are generally proven correct. In Western Australia, the nation’s richest jurisdiction per capita, the economic powerhouse of this country, we have the nation’s highest rate of street present homeless.

As I have previously written, homelessness in all its forms is on the increase throughout Australia. Despite the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimating homelessness at over 122,000, with thereabouts 10,000 street present homeless individuals, my estimations lay claim to 300,000 Australians in some form of homelessness, with probably more than 20,000 in some form of rough sleeping homelessness (in cars, tents, disused dwellings, parks, beaches, alleyways and pavement sleeping).

How is it possible, Australia has nearly 200,000 applications for social and public housing, queued with the majority never to be met and yet they are not all counted as in some form of homelessness? How long will the data be skewed and masked?

Experiential researchers like me have warned that more youth and older are living at home with parents. Many will live with their parents for the rest of their lives. We have warned of poverty reckoning hardships never-before known.

Let’s realise that 200,000 applications for public and social housing means exactly what it is — the applicants live in some form of homelessness. These families and individuals have no home of their own. To be eligible for a social or public house tenancy, you must be living in poverty and have a very low income if working.

Thereafter the street homeless, public and social housing living tenants are the poorest Australians. Four per cent of Australian households are public or social housing tenancies. I have previously estimated social and public housing tenants are six times more likely to suicide than private renters, mortgagees and homeowners. 

Severely crowded tenancies, with ten to 15 to a small household, guarantee miserable lives, ruination, and lack of education and unemployment. They guarantee poor health outcomes.

Yet overall, Australia is a “wealthy” nation, but it's obvious the wealth is not in any way distributed or consigned fairly. The most vulnerable in general always come last. The streets tell a story of leaving people behind, more than ever before, holding people back.

So, let’s get serious about calling out false narratives. They’re disinformation, false flags and diabolical.

If Australia does not release more land supply, and stop its lies about construction companies and builders not being able to meet demand, the grim will get grimmer. Construction firms can't hold onto workers, because land supply is not available, having dwindled, to meet the economic sustainability of construction firms. So they’re going bankrupt or winding up.

If Australia, does not meet the 200,000 social and public tenancies without delay, then abject poverty will escalate fast. Governments don’t care about the poor. That’s my reality in my battles with governments, their ministers and their bureaucrats. Australia has the treasure trove to build the 200,000 social and public homes. It has the treasure trove to end all street-present homelessness. It has the treasure trove to craft a healthy living wage — and this is vital if no one is to be left behind. It has the treasure trove to provide every Australian quality healthcare, in all its forms.

Australia must realise its future as one where Australians live equally and with socioeconomic stressors ardently manageable, not one of grim indenture. Australia can lead the world as a social justice giant — ending poverty, ending homelessness, crafting safety nets, reducing disease and suicidality. The abhorrent lies that Australia cannot afford to do this must end.

Our brightest minds are rarely in government or in bureaucracies, this is my experience. Instead, when it comes to politicians and bureaucrats, the majority are besotted with the elites and their vested interests. There is no worse, no more harrowing corruption than this. They chatter about integrity commissions and all the while, they demonstrate no integrity.

Political life has further disintegrated in the last half century, in Australia and globally, to out and out shameless servants of the economic interests of the elites. And there are no longer semblances of social justice pursuits. Civil rights are out the window, equality as a pursuit is dead.

I have written asking how we smash the myth that Australians live prosperously, when in fact the majority do not. I reiterate more than a quarter of eligible working-age Australians are unemployed. But we are sold the propaganda that 3.5% are unemployed.

More than 1.5 million Australians have paid work between one hour to ten hours a week.

It would be great if AI (artificial intelligence) could end all human jobs, indeed. Free humans to live their birthright, freedom, to be with their children, to enjoy this small claim to life. But elites bent on creating one form of slavery after another, such as wage indenture, will misuse AI — not for humanity’s betterment, but maniacally for their self-centred madness. They have been the architects of gloomy existences for the masses since the beginning of hierarchy.

Australia is a snapshot of the human world in decay, heading to cataclysmic catastrophes. It is not as poor as Chad with its life expectancy at 51. It is not as oppressive as the Congo, with killing rife, with barefoot children working in mines. It is not as insane as the USA, with 1% of its population incarcerated. It is the 12th biggest economy on the planet, with the world’s second-highest public health quotient, with one of the world’s highest standards of living (except for its poor).

If a nation such as Australia is not living the way forward to zero carbon emissions, eliminating all industrial atmospheric poisonings, ending all homelessness, and to all I have described, then humankind’s doom is guaranteed and the journey to the end will be ugly.

I have previously written that poverty is an abomination because it is incurred by the making of one government after another. No one else is to blame but our governments. They can procure laws where everyone is housed, everyone has a living wage and everyone has rudimentary needs met. There is no just cause for anyone to endure miserable deprivations. The lies of the world, of the ruling classes, the false narratives need to be called out and put to an end.

Our federal governments cannot even settle on a fair taxation system. The rich are not adequately taxed. This is corruption. I have written of a ventile taxation system. This nation’s taxation system is cruel. How much money do the extremely wealthy need? How many billions of dollars?

The Australian nation should own all its sovereign wealth, all mining, in all its forms, should be owned by the nation as a whole and not by the obscene greed of the individual. This is inhumane, maladaptive misbehaviour. It directly contributes to poverty, to suicide and to a hideous society.

The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics reviews annually the Henderson Poverty Line. Please let’s end this rubbish and produce an accurate Australian Poverty Line.

I have previously written that when we disaggregate, there are thunderous shocks. We know 40% of Australia’s First Peoples live below the Henderson Poverty Line thresholds. Sixty per cent in WA and three in four in the Northern Territory. However, if we go with my claims, the Georgatos Poverty Line claims sadly, nearly 80% of Australia’s First Peoples live in poverty. Arduously, there is still a horizonless road ahead for our First Peoples brothers and sisters. Those who are doing well among them – the haves – are still a minority.

The Australian story of home ownership is fast-changing. Fewer than one in three adult Australians fully owns their home. The majority are above 65 years of age. Within a decade, the statistic will be one in four and after another decade, one in five. Another one in three Australians lives with mortgage repayments — the majority, at death, will not have resolved the mortgage. One in four Australians pays private rent. For many, rents are higher than mortgage payments on an average house.

So let us get the narratives correct. If not, then every one of us is the architect of our doom — and sadly of other lifeforms and of some of the planet itself.

Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention and poverty researcher with an experiential focus on social justice.

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