Permission to Speak

By now I’m sure the social media world is tired of hearing about the Duncan Storrar saga but I’m not here to weigh in on whether he deserves the fund raised money, or to give my opinion on his character. I’m more concerned with the big issue it has raised and it’s not taxes.

It’s about who is and is not allowed to speak.

If nothing else has been more glaringly obvious than the fact that if you make any kind of “socialist” comment on Q&A you’ll be scrutinised, publicly lynched and burned at the stake, it’s that still in this progressive Australia the value of our opinions in a political arena is measured by the class of wealth you hold and the apparent “contribution” you make to society’s communal purse.

Duncan Storrar may not be a great example but he’s not alone in the way he’s been treated because he dared to ask a question. That was, why are people on higher incomes who can manage far better in the realm of liveability getting a tax cut they’ll barely notice when there are people still struggling just to break the poverty line? No, Duncan isn’t the first and it seems as far as the responses have been, will certainly not be the last to have his character condemned for asking a question and treated like he’s committed a mortal sin.

Scene from the movie "Oliver Twist" based on Charles Dickinson's novel of the same name where the young orphan boy, Oliver, asks the orphanage master for more food. "Please sir, I want some more".
Scene from the movie “Oliver Twist” based on Charles Dickinson’s novel of the same name where the young orphan boy, Oliver, asks the orphanage master for more food.
“Please sir, I want some more”.

Events like this strike fear into the souls of the damned. They slink back into their dimly lit moss covered caves feeling reminded that because they are poor, because they don’t put their conceived “fair share” into the collection plate, they don’t get a say. They dare not ask. They have no value.

Church collection plate with money collected. There is a discount voucher on top.
Church collection plate with money collected. There is a discount voucher on top.

While we continue to measure each member of society’s contribution on their ability to earn and the portion they pay, we miss the really important unseen value.

I have sat watching it all play out over the last few days wondering how things would have panned out if I were Duncan Storrar. What if it was me sitting in that audience and asked that question?

First thing is that I would have been told since I pay NO tax being a disabled pensioner and I’m only costing society more, I don’t very well have the right to ask for anything more. Don’t ask for an increase to the pension rate because your rent is 81% of your income. Am I allowed to call it income? Don’t ask for assistance with paying any other bills like electricity or phone. If you can’t pay those bills then you must be spending all your welfare benefit on cigarettes, drugs and alcohol! No, you can’t ask for cheaper public transport fares to get to medical appointments, taxpayers are already paying to keep bastards like me alive.

Then they’d look a little deeper into my current situation and find that I didn’t just ask for a tax cut…. I’m running around town asking for all kinds of things! I mean, how dare this woman who doesn’t pay rates ask council to fix footpaths so she can ride her scooter around. That she probably got with government funding anyway (I didn’t but hey we know it will be assumed). She’s even harassing the State Government for better access to public transport! It’s bad enough she doesn’t even pay the full fare but now she wants special access at all train stations!

Okay lets find more discrediting evidence to prove she’s crossed the line here questioning a panel of politicians, asking if they actually know what they’re doing. Woah, her parents are convicted criminals. She’s from a whole family of welfare bludgers! Who does she even think she is? UNPAID TOLL FINES!!! She’s got hundreds of dollars in unpaid toll fines! EXECUTE HER! OFF WITH HER HEAD!

The Queen of Hearts screaming OFF WITH HER HEAD as told in the story Alice In Wonderland.
The Queen of Hearts screaming OFF WITH HER HEAD as told in the story Alice In Wonderland.

No seriously I have a stack of unpaid toll fines which I am refusing to pay until someone wants to have a serious discussion with me to resolve the issue and stop passing me back and forth between departments telling me that my hearing impairment isn’t their problem and if I want to know if my toll account is empty I need to set up auto top up. Another story for another time.

Okay so I probably don’t have much of a recorded criminal history but trust me there will be plenty of disgruntled adult children wanting to have their attack on my parenting by giving a very public interview about how bad I was in the past. Well….. there might even be one or two in the more recent past. I may or may not have, under the influence of unstable medication, lost my shit over the staging of an event that caused my child much heartache and hit some little trollop around the head with my walking stick. To be fair she gave it back and punched me in the head repeatedly where I tripped backward cos that’s what happens when you have fucking Parkinson’s and fell over and that was it, show’s over. Hey may as well get it all out in the open now, why let some media mogul profit from exploiting my story right?

I’m hardly Australian of the Year material. Still, I’m a registered voter and if I want to ask a question of the people who are anticipating that I may vote for them then why the hell can’t I? If you want to take away my right to ask questions then take away my right to vote. Oh wait that’s right…. they won’t just in case the down trodden and battling pews of the congregation are needed for vote winning…. you know like when John Howard decided it was a great idea to give out money rewards to anyone who was willing to go forth and multiply while most of that same government now condemn the single parent welfare bludgers who need to get off their lazy arses and get jobs without any idea where these 9-3 jobs are going to come from.

Yes, I’m a welfare bludging, delinquent, fine dodging, Medicare sucking, health system draining, imposition on society who has the hide to ask for the god damned footpaths fixed so she can ride her mobility scooter to her local MPs office to complain about the fact that no one is answering the phones at Medicare all week and her rebate has gone missing, without having to risk her life to do it.

I probably could have warned you Duncan, if you dare to make any part of your life public, even in a blog, someone is going to find a way to crucify you. Gosh I even get stalked online by random strangers who then want the right to anonymously question whether or not I’m really disabled or if I’m just faking it for a government supported retirement plan. True story.

Never mind the fact that for the better part of the best years of my life I worked two jobs. I also worked, studied AND volunteered at the same time. It’s really not relevant that despite the disadvantaged upbringing I had that I was a high achieving A grade student who was bullied and beaten by the same peers who were buying their drugs from her parents. Sweep under the carpet the number of people I’ve taken in to my home, fed, helped and harboured just because I knew what it was like to be down and out with no support. Forget that despite trying my best to avoid all the things that could deteriorate my health I still ended up with a disabling degenerative neurological condition that would gradually day by day, month by month, year by year take away anything good that was left in my life to enjoy.

No, I don’t “have a good job” so I can’t expect to buy a house. I don’t have wealthy parents so no one is going to cough up with a house for me. I’m poor so I shouldn’t expect to drive far or even own a car so the price of petrol really shouldn’t matter to me.

Most importantly of all, I don’t pay enough tax to have permission to speak. If I want to have a say in how decisions are made that affect my life then maybe I should go and live in some first world democratic country somewhere… oh, wait. Oops.

One thought on “Permission to Speak”

  1. Nail hit on head. Very well written as always! Yes, we who are sucking the life out of the economy by daring to rely on social security, do not have the right to question anything. We must be grateful for our “free money” provided by the “hard working tax payers”. We can’t be people who used to be one of those “hard working tax payers” because we are leaners and bludgers now. It’s not relevant that many of us are unable to work because of poor health, the only relevant point is that we are bludgers relying on hand outs. We have no right to complain or question. We must sit in silence and be forever grateful that there are people out there who “work to support” us. Never mind that the majority of income tax paid by individuals does not end up being spent on social security. Never mind that the people who seem most offended by social security don’t think twice about doing things we struggle with: shopping without the need to carry a calculator with a running total in the supermarket; trying to choose between putting fuel in the vehicle and paying the electricity/phone/internet bill; needing new footwear and clothing but limited by the choices available in op shops because buying actual new clothes or shoes is out of our reach; saying ‘yes’ to invitations to movies/dinners/lunches/weddings/birthdays and then worrying how on earth we are going to find the money to pay for said occasion’s needs. No, we must sit in our corner, heads bowed, eternally appreciative for the hard working people who allow us to exist by paying their taxes so we can have our “free money” from the government.

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