Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dear Drone,

As inspired by Jono:

Dear Recipient of Irregular Payments According to Spousal Income and Our Irregularly Changing Extra Income and Rent, Power and Telephone Bill Assistance Payments,

We realise that your payment differs in amount fortnight to fortnight, sometimes due to something you're doing that we won't identify and sometimes due to what we're doing that we also refuse to identify. That's why we are writing to tell you that the irregular amount you received last week wasn't due to anything you did, anything your partner did or any regulations that require us to pay you a monthly stipend, quarterly bill assistance or yearly lump sum. It was because we made an error that you would not have been able to realise or account for. It was our fault. Now pay us back the money that you didn't realise wasn't yours and may have spent in the last month because we assume that you keep all of your Centrelink income in a holding account for up to two months before spending it on anything.

Thank you for choosing Centrelink,
Apologetically yours,

And in today's news:

Personal Hero, Mark Davis

"... Having lived through 15 years of unbroken prosperity, [Gen-Y have] known nothing but good times. And now they're going to have to learn to face economic reality, and to deal with the hard times.

At last, the joke is on them.

.... Not all young people, it's true. But enough to make it matter, and to show a pattern of systemic neglect that the stereotypes seek to cover.

Much as we like to think that each generation is better off than the one before, the fact is that many of today's young people will never have a chance to own a home."

Makes me want to slash my wrists right through their ill-considered tattoos.


GTH - Even though there is a persistent lack of apostrophe on his site's title, the point goes for the hard kicking Miles. For effort if nothing else.


  1. Damn you centrelink. Meanwhile, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

    I remember the trouble I had as a once poor university student - move 350kms away from home to benefit society by getting a job (get off the unemployed list); can't get centrelink, but can't get job (got enough male bartenders in the world). Too bad. You'd better figure something out - i.e. earn $15000 over three years and then we'll help you.

    GTH: The blurriness illustrates the blurriness that centrelink generally use when dealing with "customers" although they should be called vendors.

  2. Amen to that - I only thought of getting that independent living allowance or whatever for my masters year. I'd earned the $15K and applied for assistance because I would be one of the small percentage of the population getting a higher degree and helping out society, but no. Only honours. Apparently all postgraduate students are wealthy enough to support themselves while embarking on the most important learning experience of their lives.

    The double-kicker of the "Earn fifteen grand and we'll subsidise you after that" tactic is that I knew a couple of real rich girls in uni - still living at home with mummy and daddy in North Adelaide - who decided that they wanted that allowance, but had never had a job, and hence had never earned enough.
    No problem!
    "Daddy, can you hire me as a consultant for your company, pay me $15,000, which I will pay back straight away as rent, so that I can say I earned enough to get a couple of hundred bucks extra government pocket-money a fortnight?"
    "Of course, Cupcake. Anything for my little Cupcake. Here, have another car."

    Every word true.

  3. My hubby is dependent on a centrelink allowance which differs every fortnight depending on how much I've earnt. I earn very little, being physically unable to work longer hours, so my little wage and L's little allowance is just enough to keep us going. I think an allowance should not be dependent on the spouse's (I hate that word) earnings if that spouse is unable to work full time. We're not in debt at all, but we live very simply.
    I agree with shippy's GTH. Centrelink views everyone of it's customers out of focus.

  4. The most wrong-headed bit about linking the spousal (yes, awful word) incomes is that it takes away any incentive to work. Why work for money if it's not going to make any difference to our dollars at the end of the fortnight?
    Fuck it! I'll just stay home and take drugs instead ...
    Or - if the working spouse is a real arsehole and doesn't give the non-working, pension-receiving spouse any money, essentially trapping them in what's obviously not a healthy relationship, but also in poverty.
    Not too bright. No wonder they don't like people doing postgrad study ...

  5. I wish I'd kept copies of some of my letters to Centrelink when I was a single mum/uni student. I remember trying to explain that there was no relationship between me and the man that was renting my back room out and furthermore there could never be any relationship because not only had he left but he'd pissed all over my toilet

  6. Squib - That's the problem with Centrelink's policing policy: it's there to stop the system-rorters, but it only catches people who are
    a) demented
    b) making mistakes
    c) innocent but get fined anyway because Centrelink fucks up.

    It's like terrorists - the stupid ones get stopped and the smart ones pull it off anyway.

  7. I'm a bohemian. I don't care about the economic crisis. Now where did I put my Jack Kerouc novel.

  8. It's over there, under your screenplay about a couple of twenty-somethings who get into wacky adventures involving drugs, rent and a whole lot of snappy dialogue.

  9. It makes me wonder whether we ever really did move on from the 'Fend for yourself or die' mentality of the Depression and the so-called 'rules and guidelines' that allowed me, in 1986, to be given $7a fortnight Austudy because my father, as a high school teacher, supposedly earned too much,even when putting three kids through university at the same time.

    At the same time, kids whose parents owned businesses and were far wealthier could do all kinds of creative accounting and get full Austudy on top of what their parents were giving them.

    And don't get me started on this new 'gap year' trend. For the wealthy it is just a year to travel and goof off courtesy of monied parents; very few not-so-well offs have a 'gap year' that doesn't involve call centre, bar work or fruit picking.

    I hope that it somehow gets sorted out for you, Franzy. As you've said, it makes wanting to do anything worthy like extra study or contributing to the spousal (yep, that word's right up there with 'frock' and 'cardigan') coffers very difficult.

  10. Amen Kath. And Franzy.

    I've written about study, HECS, and the evils of making people pay for their education:

    Disincentives to study, learn and improve, when systematically applied lead to a societal dumbing down. Pollies (and some pointy headed economists) seem to think that's a good thing.

    As for Austudy - my parents had 3 kids at university and never received a cent from the government. But we were under the tail end of the legacy of Gough. No HECS. But no support either. For the last couple of years of my study, I supported myself with what I earned during the Christmas holiday periods.

    Never claimed allowances from the government since, either. Not rich, either. But don't want those pricks anywhere near me.

  11. I guess the thing to look at is again, the comment of doing it tough mentioned in Franzy's blog.

    Possibly, a lot of Gen-Y do get it easy, but a lot are made to earn it. I feel that it's such a greater benefit when you have to earn it. I knew people that went away to private school, mainly because that's the way it's always been done. A number of them fell into drug problems and ended up returning home with no real gain in such an expedition. I stayed at public school, with the help of some really committed teachers, received some excellent lessons in not only life, but also schooling. I've got nothing against people that go to private schools. I feel for all university students that have to survive on summer savings (such as I did).

    I mis-quoted the 15k over three years, I think it's 15k over 18 months. I literally dug holes for my money - working for an irrigation company in The Coonawarra, in temperatures up to 40 degrees Celcius. Yeah, I think I earned my degree. Although, I nearly didn't make it.

  12. it's because they have a monopoly. when is the government going to stop shedding tax payer dollars on the lumbering buearocracy and privatise it?

    or have they already?


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32