Australia

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Australia Continues Its Plunge Into Authoritarianism And Military Brinkmanship

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/09/2021 - 11:53am in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/be314b2166944c79d5d49ce93aafb80a/href

Australia has joined the US and UK in an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” called AUKUS with the unspoken-yet-obvious goal of coordinating escalations against China. Antiwar reports:

President Biden and the leaders of Australia and the UK announced a new military agreement on Wednesday aimed at countering China. The pact, known as AUKUS, will focus on the sharing of sensitive military technologies, and the first initiative will focus on getting Australia nuclear-powered submarines.

US officials speaking to CNN described the effort to share nuclear propulsion with another country as an “exceedingly rare step” due to the sensitivity of the technology. “This technology is extremely sensitive. This is, frankly, an exception to our policy in many respects,” one unnamed official said.

This deal will replace a planned $90 billion program to obtain twelve submarines designed by France, an obnoxious expenditure either way when a quarter of Australians are struggling to make ends meet during a pandemic that is four times more likely to kill Australians who are struggling financially. This is just the latest in Canberra’s continually expanding policy of feeding vast fortunes into Washington’s standoff with Beijing at the expense of its own people.

If readers are curious why Australia would simultaneously subvert its own economic interests by turning against its primary trading partner and its own security interests by feeding into dangerous and unnecessary provocations, I will refer them once again to the jarringly honest explanation by American political analyst John Mearsheimer at a debate hosted by the Australian think tank Center for Independent Studies in 2019. Mearsheimer told his audience that the US is going to do everything it can to halt China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the regional hegemon in the East, and that Australia should align with the US in that battle or else it would face the wrath of Washington.

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“The question that’s on the table is what should Australia’s foreign policy be in light of the rise of China,” Mearsheimer said. “I’ll tell you what I would suggest if I were an Australian.”

Mearsheimer claimed that China is going to continue to grow economically and will convert this economic power into military power to dominate Asia “the way the US dominates the Western Hemisphere”, and explained why he thinks the US and its allies have every ability to prevent that from happening.

“Now the question is what does this all mean for Australia?” Mearsheimer said. “Well, you’re in a quandary for sure. Everybody knows what the quandary is. And by the way you’re not the only country in East Asia that’s in this quandary. You trade a lot with China, and that trade is very important for your prosperity, no question about that. Security-wise you really want to go with us. It makes just a lot more sense, right? And you understand that security is more important than prosperity, because if you don’t survive, you’re not gonna prosper.”

“Now some people say there’s an alternative: you can go with China,” said Mearsheimer. “Right you have a choice here: you can go with China rather the United States. There’s two things I’ll say about that. Number one, if you go with China you want to understand you are our enemy. You are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States. Because again, we’re talking about an intense security competition.”

“You’re either with us or against us,” he continued. “And if you’re trading extensively with China, and you’re friendly with China, you’re undermining the United States in this security competition. You’re feeding the beast, from our perspective. And that is not going to make us happy. And when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can be. Just ask Fidel Castro.”

Nervous laughter from the Australian think tank audience punctuated Mearsheimer’s more incendiary observations. The CIA is known to have made numerous attempts to assassinate Castro.

So there you have it. Australia is not aligned with the US to protect itself from China. Australia is aligned with the US to protect itself from the US.

https://medium.com/media/e14beb7a1250a5d8f60618edecafa8bc/href

This new move happens as Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner announces his government’s policy for Covid-19 restrictions once the territory’s population is 80 percent vaccinated which will include “lockouts” during outbreaks wherein people will only be allowed to work and move freely in society if they verify that they are vaccinated using check-in measures which Gunner literally calls a “freedom pass”.

“I’ll say it again and again. If you want your life to continue close to normal, get your jab,” Gunner said. “For vaccinated people, the check-in app will basically be your freedom pass. For people who make the choice to not get vaccinated, no vax means no freedom pass. We’re working with other governments now to get this technology ready.”

This is in alignment with what we’ve been told to expect as the rest of Australia prepares to roll out the use of vaccine passports.

And we continue to see other authoritarian escalations in Australia which have nothing to do with Covid as well. Authorities have been proposing new legal provisions which will allow Australian visas to be cancelled and citizenship revoked in entirely secret proceedings based on information provided by secretive government agencies. The horrifying Identify and Disrupt bill which allows Australian police to hack people’s devices, collect, delete and alter their information and log onto their social media was passed through Parliament at jaw-dropping speed last month. Neither of these escalations are Covid-related.

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People who just started paying attention to Australian authoritarianism during Covid often get the impression that it’s entirely about the virus, but as we discussed previously the actual fundamental problem is that Australia is the only so-called democracy without any kind of statute or bill of rights to protect the citizenry from these kinds of abuses. This is why Australia is looked upon as so freakish by the rest of the western world right now: because, in this sense, it is. People call it a “free country”, but there has never been any reason to do so.

Covid has certainly played a major role in the exacerbation of Australian authoritarianism, but it’s a problem that was well underway long before the outbreak. Back in 2019 the CIVICUS Monitor had already downgraded Australia from an “open” country to one where civil space has “narrowed”, citing new laws to expand government surveillance, prosecution of whistleblowers, and raids on media organizations.

This slide into military brinkmanship and authoritarian dystopia shows no signs of stopping. The abuses of the powerful will continue to grow more egregious until the people open their eyes to what’s going on and begin taking action to steer us away from the existential dangers we are hurtling toward on multiple fronts. If there is any good news to be had here, it’s that if such a miracle ever occurs it will then be possible to immediately course correct and start building a healthy society together.

_____________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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PM Declares New Submarines Will Be Paid For By A Blind Trust

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/09/2021 - 8:28am in

Prime Minister for Sydney that fellow from Australia Scott Morrison has today announced that Australia’s new nuclear submarines will be paid for by a blind trust to be administered by the alleged Minister for Industry Christian Porter.

”How good is it to have a new fleet of distractions, er, submarines coming to Australia? Asked the PM. ”It was a real treat to get a call from President Biden today. After we established that I was the Australian Prime Minister and not the Austrian one, we had a good old chat about under water matters.”

”President Jo loved it when I told him that this deal definitely TRUMPS all others, poor guy couldn’t speak for a few minutes. All he could do was sigh.”

When asked why the Government feels the need to pay for the Submarines with a blind trust, the Prime Minister said: ”I reject the premise of your question.”

”As it stands there is nothing wrong with a blind trust. I have asked my team to investigate them and until they release the results of that investigation sometime in 2035 they shall be able to be used.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and set up a blind trust to take care of any future bills I may receive from Engadine Maccas.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

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18 Vaccine Experts, Including Top FDA Scientists, Publish Review in The Lancet Saying Current Evidence Doesn’t Support Need for COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for the Fully Vaccinated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 1:55am in

Top international vaccine experts contend current evidence does not support a need for boosters for the fully vaccinated general population at this time and recommending instead directing doses to previously unvaccinated populations.

In Their Own Words.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 4:23am in

 

“We are not lunatic fringe, we are pretty conservative, deeply thinking people,” said the founder of a Fitzroy North school (Melbourne) where a COVID19 outbreak started.

As of yesterday, the resulting outbreak had already affected 31 persons (including four parents and three school staff), 20 of them children. The school encouraged parents sent their kids to school, apparently against official guidelines. See here.

That is a belief plenty people seems to subscribe to: conservatism = deep thought. It is just a step removed from the “sensible middle-ground” commonplace.

You have to love the self-flattering irony.

9/11, twenty years on: memories launch our perspectives

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 6:50pm in

Just about anyone who remembers September 11, 2001 – a full twenty years ago, to the day, of this writing – can pinpoint exactly what they were doing, who they were with, and what they were looking forward to doing in their immediate futures. But how many can admit, or recall, with any degree of…

The post 9/11, twenty years on: memories launch our perspectives appeared first on The AIM Network.

Australia Has No Bill Of Rights, And It Shows

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 10:28pm in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/3b367f7b6d2cdd32c43203cb6e6b5120/href

The Australian government has been on the receiving end of more and more criticism for its Covid response lately, not just domestically but from overseas.

There’s a lot to criticize, from soldiers patrolling state borders and policing the streets of Sydney, to people being arrested for merely posting about lockdown protests on social media, to police accessing QR tracing information and firing projectile weapons at lockdown protesters, to news broadcasters naming and shaming Covid patients who violate isolation orders, to the frequently ineffective hotel quarantine system for travellers being replaced with purpose-built quarantine facilities and Orwellian surveillance apps. The states of both Victoria and New South Wales have begun moving toward reopening after the Delta variant proved zero-Covid goals unattainable even amid strict lockdowns, but will do so by adding Australia to the growing list of nations that have implemented the dangerously authoritarian policy of vaccine passports.

And there are other aspects of this trend which have nothing to do with Covid. One of the most controversial recent developments in Australia’s escalating government overreach (and potentially the most consequential in the long term) has been the hasty passing of a new law greatly expanding government surveillance powers which allows law enforcement to hack into people’s devices and collect, delete, or even add to and alter the data therein, as well as take control of their social media accounts, supposedly “in order to frustrate the commission of serious offences online.”

Critics tend to lump this sweeping surveillance state escalation in with authoritarian policies related to the pandemic, but the bill makes no mention of Covid; its proponents cite its utility in fighting terrorism and child exploitation. Indeed this bill, which will certainly lead to myriad abuses, is just the latest in a continuing expansion of government surveillance powers in Australia that has been going on for years. This video from The Juice for example was made in 2018 criticizing Canberra’s assault on encryption:

https://medium.com/media/e21ccbbabed5c07f174869732539d80e/href

In reality, while the pandemic has certainly been a major factor in exacerbating civil rights erosion, Australia’s Covid response has simply added to a problem that had already existed and was already getting worse. The 2019 CIVICUS Monitor, a global research group that tracks fundamental freedoms in 196 countries, downgraded Australia from an “open” country to one where civil space has “narrowed”, citing new laws to expand government surveillance, prosecution of whistleblowers, and raids on media organizations.

And this ongoing trend can be largely traced back to the fact that Australia is the only so-called democracy in the world which has no national charter or bill of rights of any kind. A tremendous amount of faith has been placed in state and federal legislators to simply do the right thing, which has proved foolish and ineffective. Professor George Williams wrote for the Melbourne University Law Review in 2006:

Australia is now the only democratic nation in the world without a national bill of rights. Some comprehensive form of legal protection for basic rights is otherwise seen as an essential check and balance in democratic governance around the world. Indeed, I can find no example of a democratic nation that has gained a new Constitution or legal system in recent decades that has not included some form of a bill of rights, nor am I aware of any such nation that has done away with a bill of rights once it has been put in place.

Why then is Australia the exception? The answer lies in our history. Although many think of Australia as a young country, constitutionally speaking, it is one of the oldest in the world. The Australian Constitution remains almost completely as it was when enacted in 1901, while the Constitutions of the Australian states can go back as far as the 1850s. The legal systems and Constitutions of the nation and the Australian colonies (and then states) were conceived at a time when human rights, with the prominent exception of the 1791 United States Bill of Rights, tended not to be protected through a single legal instrument. Certainly, there was then no such law in the United Kingdom, upon whose legal system ours is substantially based. This has changed, especially after World War II and the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but by then Australia’s system of government had been operating for decades.

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The state of Victoria has a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, which supposedly includes rights like freedom of movement and peaceful assembly, but such protections have been unceremoniously dismissed as state premiers harnessed sweeping powers hardly anyone was even aware they possessed and began imposing strict laws to get the virus under control.

Officials have been rewarded for these drastic actions with thunderous public support, and until a few months ago the Australian government enjoyed soaring levels of approval from a very collectivist-minded population who overwhelmingly desired the elimination of the virus even if it meant trading some freedoms. Approval of those strict measures has dipped significantly since the Delta outbreak, but a majority of Australians still believe lockdowns and other restrictions are at appropriate levels for the time being. The absence of any federal restrictions on state governments’ ability to limit personal freedoms has allowed premiers to chase this public support regardless of potential long-term consequences.

Australia is not a free country. Westerners are trained to believe that that’s what you call any wealthy English-speaking nation with liberal cultural values, but really it’s just a continent-sized US military base with kangaroos. Human rights are only allowed where they are convenient, which is why they are continually disintegrating.

The first mistake in believing that Australia is a free country is believing that it is free. The second is believing that it’s an actual country. As Julian Assange put it shortly before the Australian government allowed him to be silenced and then imprisoned for journalism exposing US war crimes:

“I love my birth country Australia but as a state it doesn’t exist. Here is why it had its prime-minister denounce me, moved to cancel my passport, secretly passed data on me to US intelligence and has never made representations on my behalf. It is owned by US+UK corporations. Before WWII Australia was dominated by the UK — of which it was a colony. After the war it subordinated itself U.S. hegemony. A brief attempt at an independent Australian foreign policy in 1975 resulted in a US+UK backed constitutional coup.”

Anyway, it’s a mess.

So what to do about all this? If you listen to social media comments from people in the northern hemisphere the answer is that Australians should wage a civil war against their government, which from where I’m standing is hilarious partly because they’re talking about a populace whose entire cultural values system is built around being laid back and unbothered, and partly because most of those commenters are Americans living directly under the single most tyrannical regime on earth who have yet to put their much-touted Second Amendment toward practicing what they preach.

There’s a lot that’s going to have to shift before Australians gain stable protections for their civil liberties, which will necessarily have to include not just some kind of bill of rights but becoming an actual republic and finally getting that ugly old woman off our coins and ending the illegitimate US military occupation here once and for all. This will not happen until there’s an expansion in public consciousness of the need to do this, which may or may not be born out of conditions getting a lot worse before they get better. It may also be born out of a critical mass of Australians deciding they’re fed up and beginning a real push toward becoming a free country.

Bottom line the answer to the question of what needs to happen for Australia to move toward health is the same as the answer everywhere else: we’re just going to have to wake up. Human consciousness wants to awaken, and it will shake us in whatever ways we need to be shaken in order to make that happen. This is a hell of a time to be alive.

_________________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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Rejection of new Australian coal mine is a rare win for community environmental campaigners

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/09/2021 - 2:52am in

Locals celebrate after eleven years of grassroots action

Originally published on Global Voices

No Coal Mining The Southern Highlands

A screenshot from the Battle For Berrima Inc. video Hume Coal and Its Plans For A New Coal Mine In Berrima 2015

Environmentalists are celebrating a victory over a proposed coal development in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) after 11 years of debate and community protests. The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for the NSW Southern Highlands blocked the plans for the proposed mine, saying the potential impacts of the project were ‘too great to be reasonably managed, and the social risks to the community are high.’

Korean-owned Hume Coal proposed applied to build the coal mine in Berrima. The company argued that the mine would ‘create 300+ jobs for locals’.

The full IPC determination and background materials are available here. The review followed an earlier rejection by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The IPC identified a long list of issues raised by the project's opponents, including:

…mine design; subsidence; groundwater drawdown; risks to surface water, including to Sydney’s drinking water catchment area; impacts to local biodiversity; greenhouse gas emissions; impacts to Aboriginal and historic heritage; amenity impacts; adverse impacts to existing industries, including tourism and agriculture; social impacts, including ongoing stress and disharmony associated with the Project; and land use compatibility.

According to the Lock the Gate Alliance, a national grassroots organisation concerned with risky coal mining, coal seam gas and fracking, the mine would have emitted a massive amount of greenhouse gasses:

If it had been built, the Hume Coal project would have been responsible for more than 106 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifespan.

There have been local concerns since permission was granted to drill exploration holes in 2010. High profile supporters over the years have included singers Leo Sayer, Cold Chisel's Jimmy Barnes and actor Nicole Kidman, who owned one of the 424 properties that would have been affected by the mine.

This video has an interview with Sayer, a local resident in 2015:

Sayer also made a statement for the public inquiry in June 2021:

…the mine is a danger to health, clean air, farm produce, and the nature of the Southern Highlands and the peace and quiet of this historically natural area.

Jimmy Barnes, who is another longstanding local, also made a written submission.

There has also been opposition from local small business groups such as the Moss Vale Rural and Chamber of Commerce. Their president, restaurateur and farmer Brigid Kennedy, was very pleased with the result, arguing that it would give businesses hope.

I think I have held my breath for 10 years and I feel I can finally let it out. I am so excited — the community will be doing cartwheels down the Berrima main street. There has been a lot of tears over this, marriage break-ups, divorce — this has caused a great deal of anxiety. Hopefully it will help businesses struggling though COVID hang on and flourish.

Tweets by community members Seamus Byrne and Clare Press showed both the elation and growing frustration of many online:

The IPC found that the greenhouse gas emissions were not justified ‘when weighed against the relatively minor economic benefits’.

However, Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian was concerned that the overall issue of climate change was not properly addressed by the IPC, arguing that no new mines should be approved in NSW:

Yes, the water impacts of this ill-conceived project were extremely risky. And yes, the mine should have been rejected for these reasons alone.

But the fact the IPC barely touched on climate highlights the deficiencies of the planning system in coming to grips with the greatest environmental hazard we face.

The decision has been hailed as a victory for local community action. Groups such as Battle for Berrima have been active on the ground as well as online. The group celebrated the win on their Facebook page.

We would love to be celebrating with you tonight. Throughout, we engaged with the government planning process respectfully. Thank you everybody for your support, donations, volunteering and commitment. Hopefully, once lockdown is over, we can celebrate together. A massive THANK YOU to everybody

Community activist Jenny Hunter’s Twitter thread details the hard work that many locals put in over the 11 years of campaigning:

After the decision, Peter Martin, president of Coal Free Southern Highlands, posted to their Facebook page :

It’s been a ‘knock down and drag out’ struggle for the local community against the Korean steel maker which has used every weapon in its arsenal to push the project through against the determined opposition.

…Given the serious climate issues that we all face, it would have been a dereliction of duty for the State Government to let a coal mining project like this proceed. Coal is clearly at the end of its useful life.

Magpies Postpone Swooping Season Till December

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 10:34am in

magpie

Faced with the possibility that the streets will still be bare of people in September, Australia’s magpies have reluctantly pushed back the swooping season to December.

“What’s the point of swooping season if there’s no-one to swoop down on but a couple of posties, ginger cats and the odd weirdo scurrying home from the shops with a plastic bag full of toilet rolls,” sighed Tommy Rawkdonikis, CEO of Magpies Australia. “The only alternative is to conduct the whole season behind closed doors with some shop mannequins set up in a field somewhere.”

“September is still six months away but people don’t understand the amount of preparation that goes into a successful swooping season,” lamented Lidcombe magpie Arthur Squawkins. “There’s big tall trees to be scouted out, busy parks to be allocated and beaks to be sharpened.”

Some magpies fear a return to the war years where so many Australians were fighting overseas that the streets were nearly empty, leading to ugly scenes where five or six magpies were forced to swoop the same postman.

“December is not an ideal time to hold the swooping season because it’s right in the middle of summer, which means there’s a plastic ice cream container in every fridge,” warned Ashfield magpie Les Bird. “On the plus side, people get shorter haircuts in hot weather, which means better access to ears.”

Peter Green
http://www.twitter.com/Greeny_Peter

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ScoMo Assures Australia That We Won’t Open Up Till Jen And The Girls Are Fully Vaccinated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/08/2021 - 8:03am in

Prime Minister for Sydney Scott Morrison has moved to assure the Nation that he won’t open everything up until Jen and the Girls are fully vaccinated.

”I know a lot of Australians are concerned that at the moment the Girls aren’t vaccinated and Jen has only had the Astra Zeneca,” said the PM. ”But, rest assured I will not take any risks like opening borders or Bunnings until the girls are fully vaccinated.”

”As we speak, I have little Greggy Hunt looking at sourcing some vaccines from rural West Australia to get the Girls jabbed and ready to travel.”

When asked why he was prioritising his family’s vaccination over the rest of the community, the PM said: ”I reject the premise of your question.”

”In Australia we’re all equal, just some of us are a little bit more equal than others.”

”Besides, it’s not a race. Jen didn’t book us to travel to Hawaii till November.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if I can source some vaccination for the cleaning crew of Engadine Maccas. After all it’s the least I can do.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

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Worried about health? It’s a matter of class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/08/2021 - 11:18am in

Working class people have poorer health than the rich—and things are only getting worse, according to a new report.

Researchers at the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University say: “Low socioeconomic status is a major risk factor for chronic disease and premature death.”

Their report blows the idea that “we’re all in it together” out of the water, confirming that class divides Australia and helps determine how people live and when they die.

The Mitchell Institute has tracked outcomes across a range of health factors, comparing outcomes between the early 2010s and later in the decade.

On almost every count, life has got worse for the poorest—and the latest figures were compiled before the explosion of stress and trauma caused by the pandemic.

The rate of premature death is more than twice as high for the poorest 20 per cent of the population as the richest 20 per cent and the gap has widened between 2010-14 and 2014-18.

Other indicators are just as shocking. The poorest 20 per cent of Australians, compared to the wealthiest 20 per cent are:

  • almost three times more likely to smoke
  • 57 per cent more likely to be obese
  • twice as likely to have diabetes
  • 80 per cent more likely to die by suicide
  • twice as likely to be unemployed if they suffer a mental illness
  • more than twice as likely to have coronary heart disease.

The overall picture is confirmed by another new report, which finds a clear link between poverty and incidents of mental distress.

Researchers at the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the University of NSW say that people under 65 whose main source of income is government income support are 50 per cent more likely to report mental health issues than those with salary or wages (18 per cent).

They add: “People who are without paid work are almost twice as likely to report mental health issues than people who work full time.

“People with higher incomes (60 per cent) are more likely to report good health, while people with lower incomes are less likely to report good health (32 per cent).”

This evidence adds urgency to the demand to raise benefits including JobSeeker to a minimum of $80 a day.

During last year’s long second wave of COVID, the doubling of JobSeeker took many people out of poverty for the first time.

We need to campaign to make such an increase permanent while also demanding an end to evictions and guaranteed safe housing for the homeless.

The two new reports show that fighting poverty and low wages isn’t a luxury—for some workers it’s literally a matter of life or death.

By David Glanz

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