Homelessness – the new lifestyle choice (according to Mr Abbott)

Hi Lexy here not NWN, after commenting non stop on NWN’s pieces I finally get my own chance to have a good ole rant!  Disclaimer: I am NOT a journalist and this is my opinion not NWN’s.

 So he-who-shall-not-be-named, otherwise known as the Dark Lord, head-Poombah of the Order of the Dickstickers and occasionally as Tony Abbott has waded into another debate on which he has an opinion yet is woefully under resourced in fact. He has also attempted to be a ‘journalist’ again (and I use that word under advisement in this context) which gives me an option to critique his article.

This time he has chosen homelessness not the sanctity of his teenage daughters’ virginity or ‘Ironing 101’ lectures for housewives. This is win-win for Mr Budgie Smugglers as the homeless are not likely to vote for him in the first place and it has never traditionally been a vote winning and glamour area of social policy.   It is a handy little area for youknowwho though because it allows him to take the moral high ground and make sweeping and inaccurate statements that neatly dismiss homelessness, and its causes, as being a ‘lifestyle’ (don’t you just hate that word) choice. For a small minority it is a choice but they really are the minority and arguably only accepting of the street culture lifestyle due to years of institutionalised homelessness and few available exit options.

 Better still, it is also a useful way to reiterate Catholic mediaeval doctrine on the deserving and the undeserving poor.  What youknowwho doesn’t acknowledge is that the homeless are not just:

 “a shape huddled under an awning on a wet night or a sad figure begging in the street”. 

as he sees them, but  people in boarding houses with no security of tenure or even a bathroom, refuges and crisis accommodation, caravan parks, cars and sofa surfers gradually running out of mates places to stay. They are families made homeless by unaffordable housing and the lack of investment in social housing during the Howard years.  The previous Coalition Government consistently reduced (in real terms) the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement. The ‘new homeless’ are often the Howard battlers that youknowwho is still gunning for.   

 The biggest causes of homelessness are family breakdown and women fleeing domestic violence. Youknowwho comments that:

The Howard government established a national network of family relationship centres to try to keep families together or to take some of the bitterness out of breaking up.”

 Oh right so if these women had only stayed with their abusive partners they wouldn’t be homeless in the first place.  Well technically being beaten or being homeless (note to Tony – a refuge is not a home) is a choice but a third choice might be nice.   I am not suggesting that prevention of family break down where possible has no merit (and not all breakups are violence related of course) but a spot of marriage counselling is not the resolution to homelessness and domestic violence.

Most interestingly though, he demonstrates that he is totally out of step with all the research (domestic and international) and thinking on tackling homelessness, such as successful ‘Housing First’ models in New York.  What is needed is more long term housing solutions not more refuges and soup kitchens (the charitable response that he likes so much).  They are crucial in helping homeless people but dont actually reduce homeless numbers. Over the last few years homeless numbers have stayed stable despite all the hard work , so we have been throwing money at the issue but not making any headway in reducing the long term problem.  Both state and commonwealth responses are actually trying to reduce the number rather than just maintain the status quo and give them a bowl of soup and a blanket from time to time.

 There are some serious targets proposed which includes a 25% reduction in rough sleeping in NSW by 2013.  Ambitious yes, but better than the do nothing approach youknowwho proposes where homeless people continue to struggle and health/police and other state and federal resources remain under pressure.  Where would you rather your taxes went?

12 responses to “Homelessness – the new lifestyle choice (according to Mr Abbott)

  1. And this is why I went to an expert for this post. My slap down of Abbott would have been “well, you’re a poo poo head and you smell”.

    This bit in Abbott’s piece is particularly funny:

    There has been $10 billion in one-off bonuses to pensioners and families to prevent a recession; $15 billion to the states to bring public hospitals and public schools up to world-best standards; $6 billion to the car industry to finally make it internationally competitive; and this latest measure to eliminate people sleeping rough.

    Ha, he’s put the boot into his own party for not doing these things while in power, and given Rudd a public blowjob at the same time! And then he goes on to say that leaders shouldn’t aim high in case they don’t reach that goal. Well, I guess we now know that an Abbott Government would be mediocre. At best.

  2. outragedofmarrickville

    yes I thought that was bizarre too.

  3. Fucking excellent post! Abbott clearly has no idea about the reality of homelessness in this country. Emergency housing is so stretched that a woman with kids who has a car is considered to have somewhere safe to sleep – there is something bloody wrong with that.

    Maybe Abbott should spend a week sleeping rough and negotiating with government authorities for assistance… “I’m sorry Tony but those ears of yours constitute shelter, you might be homeless but with those things on the side of your head your not houseless.” Okay totally cheap shot….

  4. So today Rudd has found another $10 million for the problem and said it’s the mark of any “decent society” to try and fix it. How decent do we think a government featuring Tony “people choose to be homeless” Abbott and Barnaby “let’s cut foreign aid” Joyce would be?

  5. Pingback: Shades of misogyny « the news with nipples

  6. I hope you realise that you’ll never win an argument if you begin your arguments with childish namecalling. Frankly the only people who will be saying good point to this are those who already share your wierd leftist ideology. I have made a few comments on this blog today as I am interested to see if you actually publish opposing viewpoints.

  7. Well I actually tend to agree with most of it save for two areas which I will come to. My point is that an otherwise balanced and useful contribution loses all dignity with such terms as ‘Dark Lord, head-Poombah of the Order of the Dickstickers’ and therafter as ‘he-who-shall-not-be-named’ or ‘you know who.’ It’s childish and unnecessary in such a good analysis. Now the first area of disagreement is that throughout this blog you and Lexi talk about this being about opinion not journalism, however when Abbott states his opinion he has ‘ attempted to be a ‘journalist’ again ‘ It is also routinely implied that he is some gibbering moron when in fact as a Rhodes Scholar he probably isn’t. Secondly in the final paragraph the NSW governments 25% target is described as ‘ambitious’ whereas given that this is indeed the NSW state govt talking a more apt description would be ‘rubbish’ as that mob never delivers on anything.

  8. outragedofmarrickville

    Hello formeryl, this is Lexy here. I totally take your point about the name calling; you are right it IS petty and childish and not useful to my argument; in fact the first person to agree with you is my own boyfriend. But this blog generally aims to add some fun to serious critique. I have been so offended by so many things that Mr Abbott has said that a spot of name calling is a bit of fun for me. Mind you, you seem quite happy to do a bit of insulting yourself regarding the NSW Government or calling me a weird leftist. Pot and kettles come to mind. I argue against Abbott’s journalist intentions because it was a written article in a newspaper rather than a political statement made on the steps of a hospital or released by his press office. He is not the only politician to do this from both sides of the chamber. I find his journalism to be poorly researched and poorly written and little more than agitprop most of the time so I stand by that statement. Regarding the moronic reference, if he stops saying such idiotic things like the ironing nonsense, I and others may take him more seriously, Rhodes Scholar or not.

    Regarding the 25% target…it is a target, it is new, let’s see if it is reached before we debunk it. The thrust of my argument is that Abbott suggests Australia do nothing because people choose to be homeless. Rudd and others say lets seriously try to do something about it and what’s more here are some funds to tackle it and reform the system. This is more than the mere lip service and moralising we have seen for the last 15 years. I struggle to see this as anything but a good thing.

  9. Fair point and my apologies for any offence over the wierd leftist remark. I am not sure if you have to live NSW but if you did you would understand my frustrations regarding any claims the NSW government makes (I shall be posting on my own blog on this issue soon) Anyway the point is this no homelessness in most cases is not a choice (obviously) I think Abbott may still be working to win back the right which Turnbull disenfranchised. Thing is simply making promises means nothing unless something practical is done about the issue. I don’t understand the ironing thing (nor the obsession with wearing swimmers to swim in etc)

  10. outragedofmarrickville

    As far as Abbott is concerned it may be shoot from the hip commentary but I actually don’t think he is stupid man, I think he is v clever. You don’t get to where he is by being dumb. I think his decisions to say things are more calculated, as you say to re-establish his party on the right and based on the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I he keeps himself upfront and centre in the media cycle then he gets coverage for his opinions and they gain traction and raise the momentum for his party. Many people agree with him and now they have a voice representing their views. It’s quite clever really I just don’t agree with most (actually any that I can think of) of his opinions. Personally I preferred Turnbull but his ego got in the way of his politics, then ago I would cos I am unashamed lefty .

    Regarding homelessness: the reality is that the government and the NGOs are doing a lot of practical projects and investments in line with the reform agenda. For example the Common Ground project in Camperdown, assertive outreach programs, the building of properties under nation building, expansion of the social housing sector, affordable rental schemes like NRAS, regional planning for commonwealth funds in consultation with all sectors of the industry basing needs to locations rather than blanket plans, lots of programs with health, correctional services and housing to increase the focus on prevention and early intervention. Most of this will have a short news cycle or people don’t hear about it at all (its not sexy) so don’t know that there is so much happening on the ground. But these are actually quite major programs that make a big difference in real terms.

    The issue will always be that housing demand will outstrip supply and no matter how much you build and how smart you get about creating demand side policies you’ll never have enough cheap houses especially in metropolitan areas. I suppose this is why I still have a big focus on social justice actions because it is (to use a wanky term) a holistic issue.

  11. Good points. Turnbull is a sly bugger in my own opinion. I could tell you some stories about his last campaign, but I don’t want to get sued (and Lucy scares me)

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