This week Labor MP’s reacted nervously to the prospect of taxing the superannuation earnings of the “wealthy”, with former whip Joel Fitzgibbon complaining that even families in Western Sydney on an income of $250k are struggling.
Boo-fricking-hoo, Mr Fitzgibbon! Excuse me while I barf into my empathy reserves because you are dribbling nonsense… Again. Poverty. Wealth. Struggling. What do these terms mean?
Photo: Michael Myers/OxfamAUS
I can’t tell you what constitutes “wealth”. I’ve seen it (I worked as a housekeeper at Kerry Packer’s mansion), but I am yet to experience it – at least in any monetary sense. But here’s a test on “poverty” and “doing it tough”.
You know you are poor and on “Battler Boulevard” when you:
- Have to bath your children in an esky of warm water (boiled on the stove) because your gas has been cut off, due to your inability to pay your bill.
- You are typing up resumes at the local library because you are living in the local caravan park in a tent without power.
- Your children can’t go on school excursions or camps because you can’t afford them.
- You think all your Christmases have come at once when you find brand new school shoes at St. Vincent De Paul, that actually fit your son’s feet, almost perfectly.
- You water down the No Frills full cream milk to make it last longer.
- You line up at the local Salvation Army and humbly ask for a food parcel.
- You use a toll road accidentally and can’t afford the toll which results in a $200 penalty that you seriously can’t afford.
- You pay for a doctor’s consultation with a cheque so you can take the receipt and get a Medicare cash rebate and cross your fingers that the bank will honour it.
- Your bank account gets over-drawn when the bank charges end-of-month fees, so they then charge you a $40 fee for being overdrawn and your budget is ruined for the week.
- You can’t scrape together enough silver coins for the Tooth Fairy jar.
- Your child comes home crying because he was bullied for living in a ‘pov’ house.
- You lie awake at night, in agony, with a tooth abscess that you’ve packed with cloves because you can’t afford to see a dentist.
- Your child can’t attend a weekend birthday party for a school friend because you can’t afford a gift.
- You can’t afford to fly to your Grandfather’s funeral.
- You run out of tampons at a critical time and can’t afford more (doesn’t bear thinking about!)
- You burst into tears when a cashier short-changes you and refuses to admit it.
- You are paying off all your utility bills in weekly installments on a payment plan.
- You have to put back items at the check-out because you went over budget.
- You panic every time there is a blackout because the food in the freezer will spoil and then you are eating dry cereal until next pay.
- You suffer stress-related illnesses such as chronic, suicidal depression as a direct result of being financially challenged.
As someone who has answered “yes” to every one of the above at one time or another, I find it hard to understand how politicians can be so out of touch with real Aussie battlers.
If you answered “yes” to even one of the above, you are definitely struggling. You are in fact, “poor”…just scraping in above “destitute”.
The idea that a family on $250,000 a year might be “struggling” in Joel Fitzgibbon’s electorate is in so many ways, ridiculous.
I think he needs to rethink his definition of ‘struggling’ because only being able to afford a brand new car every 5 years is NOT it!
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*Nikki McWatters has had a varied career, from film and television acting to teaching to legal counselling. She lives in Queensland with her husband and children. One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rock Stars is her first book. It was shortlisted for the Emerging Author Award in the former Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and is published by Black Inc. You can follow Nikki on Twitter: @nikkimcwatters or visit Nikki’s blog. To find out more about Nikki’s book, One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rock Stars, go here.