Category Archives: politics

Twenty Two FUCKING Billion

You know how I hated the surplus back when it was only $19 billion?


 Government has delivered a surplus at the same time as providing billions of dollars in cost-of-living relief to Australians doing it tough, including energy bill rebates, cheaper medicines and cheaper childcare #auspol #ausecon

Well I hate it even more today that it seems to have grown $3 Billion. Not the figure itself, or why it’s there, but because the politicians are smiling and announcing it the same week that the long awaiting “biggest permanent increases to JobSeeker” ever and “biggest increase in commonwealth rent assistance in 30 years” are also on their brag list.

Because those might sound like good things, but in real dollarydoos, I’m getting an extra $13 a week in rent assistance. Those on Jobseeker single will be getting an extra $56.10 a fortnight – $14 of that from indexation. My DSP indexation is $26.70 for the fortnight. Bringing my grand total pension to $1000.70 a fortnight. I worked out my share of rent only takes up 41% of my pension now, not 44%, but we’re due for a rent increase so check back soon :/

All the rates are still below the poverty line measures we have at hand. Labor have chosen to keep the rates like they are. They have also chose to keep the Stage Three Tax cuts. The cost of living relief, while all been welcome  – the doubling amount of meds you can get in a script for certain drugs, I’m getting $125 off each of the next quarters electricity bills – but costs have skyrocketed everywhere, from milk, to petrol to rent (if you’re lucky enough to be housed) and there is no discretionary funds anymore. You call us fixed incomes here on the pension, because the aged and disability pensioners shouldn’t have to do work that they can’t in order to be able to afford to live. Carers can’t do any more. Those on JobSeeker are doing their best to find jobs, but jobs go to those who can afford to present themselves well, that can afford a haircut, new clothes, not have their car break down AGAIN. And the students, well they’re somehow expected to do well in their studies while supplementing with got knows how much paid work to make ends meet. We’re tired, Jim.

Government has not changed its view on tax cuts, Chalmers says
Jim Chalmers is now on RN Breakfast, where he was asked by host Hamish McDonald whether he was reconsidering the stage-three tax cuts given much of the $22.1bn budget surplus comes from the taxes of “hard working Australians”.

Chalmers said the government has not changed its view on the tax cuts, which recent data showed will flow disproportionately to high-income earners and men:

Well, first of all, it’s partly a function that people are working more and earning more. The labor market is incredibly resilient given what’s coming at us from around the world. And so unemployment is lower than what many people anticipated. And wages have began growing again, and that’s a good thing too. And that’s one of the reasons why the budgets in better nick but also getting good better prices for our commodities and what that means for company tax.

We haven’t changed our view about the stage three tax cuts, but we have found a way to provide substantial cost-of-living relief for people on low and middle and fixed incomes, because we recognise people are doing it tough and they’ve been our priority.

New Pension Rates just dropped comrades, read em and weep

The Department of Social Services and Services Australia have published the pension and other welfare payments in this pdf. The rates start accruing September 20, so that means they will partially appear the next pay cycle. My full increase kicks in October 6.

Included in this is the much touted “largest increase in Commonwealth Rent assistance in 30 Years” lol… Mine’s going up $26 per fortnight, which has totally solved the rental crisis.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly take away a lot of stress.




What are Foodbank prices really like?

I’d like to acknowledge that in having a car, the time and physical ability to shop around I am in a very priveledge position to even be able to venture to one or more foodbanks, along with having Coles, ALDI and Woolies in my town. I scour the catalogues like your granny would, and stretch my DSP far. I can walk away from a price I don’t find fair, many can’t and either have to pay the price offered or go without that item or another to compensate. 

People on welfare are the savviest shoppers around. They know when their preferred items are on special and where. You’ll remember your grandparents scripting and saving, carting their little granny trolley from shop to shop to gather their food for the fortnight on pension day. That’s what we all do now, but the pensions and certainly other payments like Youth Allowance and JobSeeker don’t go as far, so more and more people are using foodbanks for their regular grocery shops, if they have access to one, the car to get there or somehow luck out on one that delivers (Southlakes in my area does a $10 home delivered box of essentials each week, a rare gem) or is in walking or public transport distance.

Hours at the foodbanks are limited – for example the Salvos here is 10-1 Tuesday and Thursday, the community church 9-12 Thursday. And there’s often a line out the front, meaning people get there early (the oldies at the church I’ve seen at 8am for the $2 fresh fruit and veg boxes on offer at nine) or be prepared to hang around til it’s your turn. Which is fine again for those of us with time to kill, not if you’re wrangling toddlers or have mutual obligations with Centrelink, or medical appointments. Tensions can get high in the lines, everyone’s already on edge from *waves hands* life and all that, having to queue for a free bag of fruit and veges, or to get in to buy discounted items that you don’t have the usual choice over – no you can’t get the cereal the kids prefer or not get lavendar cos you hate it because if that’s what’s on offer and you need to fill that gap in your pantry or cleaning products, you get what’s on offer and at the price on offer. They say choice and control a lot on NDIS talk, people on welfare don’t have choice and control. Beggars can’t be choosers, but when someone cuts in line because they didn’t know the system or the supervisor makes you say please when you were being polite already…. that gets to you even when you’re usually easy-going.

Photo in a hall. There are fold out tables with boxes on them people are sorting groceries into the boxesA box o assorted groceries

Macquarie church at Cardiff does a $5 box weekly if you can get there between 1pm and 2.30pm

So, when you’re trying to stretch your budget and the foodbank is charging more than Woolies or Coles is you might question it. You might get told it’s the same as the supermarket, but it’s short dated so you think that’s not exactly fair. Or, it’s more expensive than the regular specials at the majors, or it’s a name brand but because your budget extends to home brand pricing, you can’t see how it’s fair to charge more than you’d pay for the home label or Aldi equivalent even though it has the shiny label.

Then you remember these items were donated by the supermarkets – written off for their own purposes to be seen as generous, or other shoppers have donated it at the checkout, paying full price for it with their own shopping…

Foodbank and Ozharvest collect donations, the most obvious ones those ones they ask for at the checkout. Presumably this goes to their transport costs, which would be substantial. But there’s also grants for these from all levels of government, and private donations. All these appeals for money and people wonder why they’re left paying $3 for a box of donated, short-dated weetbix.

On a white bench - a recycling bin, breadrolls, fruit buns, fingerbuns, sourdough

Free breads from the Friday foodbank

On Fridays I line up for my Ozharvest bag and breads (above) and then usually buy a bagful of groceries from certain shelves for $12. It’s $14 the first time, and $12 after that if you bring the bag bag to reuse. There’s always noodles and cereals, sauces I may or may not like, tins of chick peas and tomatoes. Other snacks and such vary. Again, you get a lot compared to full price, but it’s all short dated or past best before dates (they can sell it up to six months past a best before date). I just dislike that there’s no catering for special diets, wheat and carbs are king. And no preferences, just get what’s on offer.

Groceries on a bench:

Granola, crackers, milk , tins, noodles, cake mixes, sauces

That foodbank has a bunch of other shelves of individually priced goods they’ve purchased from Foodbank the charity. Please forgive the quality of the photos, I wasn’t supposed to be taking photos at all for privacy reasons but there’s noone in them….

Cans on a foodbank shelf. The photo is a little blurry

How much would you expect to pay for a can of beans at the foodbank? $1? Free? How about “2 for $4”? (Yes you can just buy one can, yes it’s bloody annoying that it’s ticketed that way casting more confusing into already meh situations) $2? Well, the beans are $2.20 at Coles, so that’s a fair price, according to this place. They figure since it’s less than full price of the supermarket it’s fair. And of course you don’t HAVE to buy it there, but as a poor person you expect that you’ll be getting a good price, right? Especially since you wouldn’t be buying Edgell if you were at coles, it’d be the $1.10 home brand option. screen cap from coles website Tins of beans for $2.20 a can

The little church foodbank I go to on Thursdays sells tins of beans for $1. I might get them if I need the ingredient for something but usually I’ll pick up a tin of something at ALDI.

Cans and other products ona foodbank shelf

How about cleaning products? Pine o Clean full price is $8 for 1.25L at the majors, but you can get a homebrand bottle for $2.50. At the first foodbank, they have them “2 for $12” or $6 a bottle. SO less than the brand, but more than homebrand. Plus you don’t get choice over scent. And I never would buy brand cleaners full price. A small Morning Fresh is $5.50 full price, but the various sizes are half price most weeks at either Coles or Woolies. There’s many cheaper dishwashing liquid options out there as you know – Choice ranks a bunch of them on their website. I usually just get and am happy with the ALDI one. Oh and the foodbank price? $3.

Pine o clean and toilet blech on a shelf morning fresh

How about milk? HOW ABOUT MILK? You ask. We know the pice of milk at the supermarket is a hot topic. It’s $4.50 for three litres at ALDI,  $6.20 at Coles. Remember when it was $1 a liter? lol Longlife milk is another option – Aldi 1L $1.59, 2L $3.09. Homebrand about the same $1.60,

long life full cream milk and vegemite on a foodbank shelfgroceries on a foodbank shelf

SO, what’s the foodbank asking for 2L of longlife Aldi full cream milk? $3 at one, $2.50 at the other. Or $2.50 for two 1L skim at the little church foodbank.

the $1.50 and 2 for $1.50 items at my local foodbank

Want non-dairy milk? $3 for a litre.

teabags, condenced milk, ling life nut milks

Now, TREATS is some we’re told we shouldn’t have, we shouldn’t buy a pack of biscuits and stick to noodles. But YOU DO DESERVE NICE THINGS. But you should be able to get them for a reasonable price. I look at the catalogues every Wednesday to see what’s half price at woolies, you can usually get a half price block of Cadbury or Nestle at one of Coles or Woolies. Never pay full price for brands.

BUT, let’s treat ourselves, we’re at the foodbank, depressed about the cost of groceries and food and life. SO, how about a chockie? Well you could pay $2 for a three pack of these Nutella biscuits, best before 28/09/2023. Or you could have gotten four packs for $1 at the little church the day before. Big W has them for $2.50, presumably with a longer best before date.

A dissplay of nutella bisuitsA dispplay of nutella bisuits

screenshot of nutelle biscuits from Big W website.

So yes, they’re cheaper than the full priced ones. But you don’t have the choice you do at the supermarket, and they have very short best before dates, which certainly works into how much you should pay, which is why Woolies donated this stuff in the first place. Choice matters. Being able to keep it more than a week matters.

Groceries on my nech

$18 at the little church foodbank


Other foodbank services might charge a membership fee. Or have a certain purchase amount before you can get the free bread. Rules vary, and this is just my little selection in my area. And I’m not doing this just to complain. But foodbanks aren’t free. And people need to know this, either so they know where their donations at the checkout are going or what if means when Coles and Woollies write off their products to charity. But also so you don’t go to a foodbank hungry, broke and tired and expect something for free. Because yes places do emergency free hampers, but again that usually means going through a social worker and there’s even less choice then.Good luck out there. You deserve to have nice things.

AUWU meetup at Bernie’s Bar Newcastle

Thanks to everyone who came to the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union meetup in Newcastle today and thanks to Bernie’s Bar for hosting us! Here’s some pics from the arvo of awesome people and yummy food!

Because I was super excited when reading the menu, Dan arranged for there to be fairy bread on arrival. Traditional, sliced white bread with margarine and all. Truly the party food of the unemployed worker.

Beanies, scarves and factsheets on a table

I brought along factsheets (downloadable here) and Nobody Deserves Poverty beanies and scarves for all – you can buy one in solidarity for $30 a piece on the website to support the work AUWU does and help fund these beanies for us!

Chicken burger with saladVege burger with chips

Burgers were had – Beef Brisket, Chick and Vego options (with Gluten free and vegan available too) and omg the chippies were great!! The bar wasn’t open to the public at the time, but they accommodated our request to turn down the music and turn off the glitter ball, as cool as it was.

beef brisket burget and chips

It was great to chat with a great group of people, some employed some not, some students, other applying for the DSP. All having experienced the wonder that is the Australian welfare system, and all agreeing it’s only getting harder to navigate and stay afloat on, by design.

We’d love to organise more meetups and more official events for AUWU members and supported in the Newcastle are (or Central Coast even, if anyone’s keen for a Gosford meet hit me up on the AUWU Discord or Twitter and we can work together to organise something and I’ll hop a train down! choo choo!)


Speak BECAUSE your voice shakes – and because you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t

So it looks like the major parties are still running their little dirt files on people they don’t like. Of course, in direct contradiction to the recommendations of the Robodebt Royal Comission, they’re still happily digging what they see as dirt to discredit the welfare class.

Last night it was Kristen’s turn. Kristen is part of the Antipoverty Centre, and guess what, they’re not affiliated with any political party. And yeah, Kristen may have once been active in the Greens, but she left them before they even had good welfare policies.

The Antipoverty Centre is a new organisation established in May 2021 to counter problems with academics, think tanks, charities, bureaucrats and others in the political class making harmful decisions on behalf of people they purport to represent.

We are a collective of activists, advocates and researchers with direct, contemporary experience of poverty and unemployment. We have deep expertise in poverty because we live it. We defend and fight for the rights of people like ourselves who experience violence at the hands of an economic system designed to oppress us. It is our mission to shift how people speak about and respond to poverty and unemployment in this colony.

We work closely with peer support groups, activists and grassroots civil society organisations to complement their work. Our goal is to help ensure the voices and rights of people on the lowest incomes are at the centre of social policy development and discourse. We believe there should be no decision made about us without us.

The Antipoverty Centre is not aligned with any political party and does not accept funding that places political constraints on our work.

So, as part of Kristen’s work, so often has media appearances. Kristen is eloquent in her criticism of all political parties and draws on her experiences as a disabled woman – she’s on the DSP and has NDIS supports that have been hard-fought for – to present at parliamentary committees and talk on the radio. Yes, her voice shakes, and I’ve seen her cry, but that’s the thing about lived experience experts – we’re here because things have been and continue to be painful and we want better for ourselves and others. We don’t necessarily care if we personally get the extra money in our Centrelink payments, we want to see everyone rise up with us. And if that means putting ourselves out there for criticism, so be it, but it needs to be be FAIR criticism.

Yes, Kristen has volunteers for the Greens at a high level, yes, Ricci formerly worked for ACOSS. But those things don’t lessen their current experiences of this torturous welfare system or the fact that it’s broken and Labor and the Liberals want to keep it that way.

Forgive me for being a member of the Greens. I’ve been on the local council ballot too and I may well again if day to day life isn’t too much of a struggle next cycle, so if you want to discredit me use that. Oh and I’ve had well paying jobs in the past, before my mental health and alcohol caught up with me. So it’s my fault I’m in this position being on DSP and wanting better for myself and my loved ones. yes, we get defensive, but my friends are just defending their right to exist, to survive on the meagre offerings of this system, without having to put up and shut up. We want better things to be possible for ourselves and for everyone else. Even you, if you fall on hard times, because remember you’re only not disabled until you are.

Media watch should practice what it preaches. tell us who gave the “tip off” about Kristen’s Green past… was it Labor? or was it your own little dirt diggers? Tell the dirt diggers that the ABC offered to pay for my accommodation to get me down for round two on QANDA with Jim Chalmers, but they offered at 2pm and I didn’t have the spoons to get to Sydney that night, expenses paid or not. You’re happy to use us when it suits you, so let us speak about what we live and breathe every day.