Archives: August 2012

27 Aug 2012, Comments (3)

So, Mr Smith.

Author: Helen

You were quoted as saying that cutting welfare is “something we should consider” because you reckon that the only thing preventing unemployed people from moving to remote mining settlements in the Kimberley is that they are living too high on the hog on their overly generous unemployment payments.

According to that article apparently even Bill Shorten, or his Spokesthing, seem to believe this age-old myth that people are having so much fun living on $245 a week they are refusing to take the millions of jobs which are just waiting for them to walk into them.

So, I have a few questions for you.

Many unemployed people have children. Do you know whether these mining towns have suitable primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and childcare centres? Do they have enough places and qualified staff to take the new workers’ children immediately? Given the sometimes temporary nature of mining projects, are you confident that the market can provide these services for every new place they have to move to? Are there hospitals there? GPs?

Given that we know that remote areas have serious problems with infrastructure and staffing, do you think you really thought about this enough before shooting your mouth off offering your considered opinion?

Housing in mining towns is notoriously expensive. How will those unemployed people be able to move into these places? How will they be able to pay the rent, let alone the bond? In fact, how will they get there? Plane tickets are an impossibility for people on $35 a day. Are you proposing some kind of nineteenth century US-style wagon train?

How will they move in? They’ll need at least a minimum of furniture, cooking equipment, crockery, etc. Will these be available at reasonable prices, and how will they afford them on top of the plane ticket, bond, rent, and all the rest of it? You probably don’t know this, given that you live on about $26,000 a day, but in the cities and towns we have op shops and other sources for people on benefits. Are there op shops in the mining towns, Mr Smith? Enough to clothe and house all our unemployed? Somehow I doubt it.

Someone else is asking whether the unemployed people have husbands or wives or partners who are working? Is it a good idea for them to have to pull up sticks and leave their jobs on this fool’s errand?

Then there’s the problem of matching the skills to the mining jobs. Of course, the Victorian government is systematically destroying the TAFE system, so it’s no use looking for your unemployed workers in Victoria.

And today, in the same newspaper which published your utterances, our National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling says the dole is so low that not only is your vision of freeloaders living large on benefits a complete myth. The NATSEM report finds being so skint is actually hindering people from applying successfully for jobs.

Don’t worry, though. If you read the comments on the AGE reports you’ll find the dole bludger myth is alive and well. Good work, Mr Smith! You can go back to counting your money now.

Not only is it nearly the end of August and I still haven’t signal boosted the August Down Under Feminist Carnival, but I’ve neglected to link to the Fiftieth Month-aversary in July. Get out the rotten tomatoes! *Ducks*

Down Under Feminists Carnival

The 51st DUFC for August 2012 is brought to you by the Conversationalist with a theme of “personal positives”.

The Carnival was on a bit of a hiatus for May – July 2012. July 2012 can be found at A life Unexamined (The Fifty Month – aversary edition). Theme – Gender and Essentialism.

With all that reading, you’ll probably need to chuck a sickie or two.

Cover art for Kate Seredy's The Good Master. A boy and a girl on horseback gallop up to a gate. The girl gets there first and opens the gate without dismounting.

I also have a new post up at Hoyden as part of the Childrens’ Book Council of Australia Book week.

Yes, I’m definitely one of those bad feminists, because when the news items broke about the two men who believed they had been unfairly discriminated against by Qantas and Virgin airlines, even though I agreed with them utterly, there was a certain part of me which was slapping its thigh and guffawing loudly, because isn’t this what we’re always ridiculed for? that is, complaining about sexism?

And didn’t the dudes emote about it!


‘Balatant discriminstion [sic] like this is just wrong. No other way to put it. …The scene I would create if I faced this would be worth seeing.


As a man I resent absolutely the fact that men can be so slandered.

Naturally, some broke out the sarcasm. “JohnA”,

Parents could be asked for a preference male, female or don’t mind. Then they could choose white, black Asian or other. Religion is important too. Age, political affiliation, sporting team and code should be checked. Can’t be too careful…

The outrage is two-pronged (no jokes, please.) On one hand the men have been subject to discrimination on the basis of their gender and have been made to go to the back of the metaphorical bus, as it were. In addition to that there’s the realisation that it’s just really shitty to have assumptions made about you on the basis of your gender.

Which is why my response, too, is twofold. On the one hand I couldn’t agree more with the premise of their outrage. I am, you might say, on the same page. But at the same time, for the very same reason, I’m… well.. Bahahahahaha.

People making negative assumptions on the basis of our gender? Being denied opportunities or being treated differently on the basis of our gender? Welcome to our world.

I do hope that the Johns and Mikes who voiced their protest so loudly in the comments threads of these articles have had an epiphany. I hope that the next time they read an article about women suffering gender discrimination or objectification, they won’t jump into those comments threads with the usual: Suck it up, Princess… Drink a ton of concrete and harden up… Stop looking to be offended… and the rest of the litany of dismissive comments that we get for pointing out sexism in the everyday world.

Well, a nasty old feminist can dream, can’t she?

You must listen to this program from Ockhams Razor on RN. No, really, you must.

Mildred Studders lives in Brisbane. Concerned with what her grandchildren were being taught at their Christian schools, she sent them a series of questions by email… lots and lots of them. The answers are, frankly, scary and make it even more clear why we need to fight for secular public education for our children.

Mildred Studders: Do you know how old the earth is? Young Michael says it is a bit over 6,000 years. That’s what he was taught at school. He is the youngest of my eight grandchildren none of them say he is very wrong. Three went to his Christian College, five to other schools. All are involved with modern churches.
Their three sets of parents are not bothered by such dodgy science, so I stepped in. I hoped to encourage them to think for themselves without direct attack on their teachers. However, I did upset at least one for a while. I asked them questions by email. It took a year – not everyone answered every time. Here are things I found out.
Some thought everything started as much as 10,000 years ago, to three it doesn’t matter. Most thought the length of a creation day was 24 hours as we know it. They told me the earth appeared first, then water, land and plants. After that came sun, moon and stars.
I mentioned Galileo, they agreed he was right about the solar system In fact some wondered why there was such a basic question. So I asked ‘how could there be day and night before there was a sun, or any other star?” Nobody thought it was impossible.
They did know about continental drift, but most could not accept it pushed up the Himalayas.
They accepted our telescopes can see stars millions of light years away. So I argued the stars must have been there millions of years ago to send out their light. The 24 year old architect agreed, one was not sure and others, including Charles my newly minted Bachelor of Science said ‘No, nothing is that old’.

A Bachelor of Science.
We really are all doomed.
Read the whole thing, or better still, podcast it to hear Mildred tell the story in her own voice. Her attempts to make the grandkids explain the logistics of the Ark will have you in tears. Of laughter. Or perhaps not. We read about the woeful state of science education in some parts of the US, but will Australians be just like them in a generation or two?

4 Aug 2012, Comments (2)

Charlie Watts!

Author: Helen

Charlie Watts rockin a sharp suit!!


No, he hasn’t died. I just point that out because you’re increasingly accustomed to seeing the older music idols trending in twitter or appearing in the news as they drop off, so seeing that post title may have given you a nasty moment.

No, as a friend of mine used to say, he looks like he just stepped out of the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly. As indeed he has.