So this week on Insight Jenny Brockie asks whether we actually have a culture of entitlement.
“I wouldn’t go and degrade myself to the point where I’m doing something that’s got nothing to do with me”–Beau, 22
“It’s by no means confined to those who are in disadvantaged situations … I think there’s a strong sense of entitlement among the wealthy to retain their wealth” –Frank Stilwell, political economist
Beau, 22, has a background in Information Technology. He can’t find an IT job so he is on the Newstart unemployment benefit. He thinks working in a cafe would be a “waste of time” and is hopeful that he’ll land a job in IT soon.
He believes Australia is a wealthy enough country to support him to land a job in his chosen field. And he thinks the welfare system isn’t doing enough to support him.
Host Jenny Brockie speaks to those who will be affected by the budget changes, including the young, the jobless and families receiving tax benefits and aged pensioners.
The program also explores how much Australia can actually afford to spend on welfare, and who should people turn to when times are tough – the government, their family, or themselves?
Amanda Vanstone was Employment Minister in the Howard Government and this year was a member of the Commission of Audit which looked for ways to cut government spending.
Amanda believes there is a sense of entitlement in Australia – from people not wanting to take certain jobs, to so-called middle class and business welfare. She says our society has become too materialistic: “Most houses have two baths, two cars and we have come to expect that.”
Beau Evans has a background in Information Technology but can’t find a job in his field. He’s been on Newstart for six months and believes the system isn’t doing enough to help him find relevant work. He doesn’t think he should have to take just any job. “It would be a failure of the system (if) a skilled IT professional ends up working in a café.”
Jeffery Wang thinks Australia is experiencing an age of entitlement and that people aren’t taking enough responsibility. He moved here from Taiwan at the age of 17 and says he would have been “disowned” if he’d gone on welfare payments. He says that in his culture, parents look after their children and children look after their parents as they age.
Zara Grayspence, 92, receives the full age pension, which works out to be about $400 per week. She also happens to live in one of Australia’s most expensive suburbs – Mosman, NSW – in a house worth an estimated $1.8 million dollars. Zara says it’s fair enough that a person’s residence isn’t included in the means test for the pension.
Frank is a political economist who has taught at Sydney University for 40 years. He believes the students he sees are not “job snobs” but just young people trying to get interesting and useful work. “I think there is a sense of entitlement but it’s by no means confined to those who are in disadvantaged situations,” he says. “I think there’s a strong sense of entitlement among the wealthy to retain their wealth.”
Rosina Gordon stays at home to look after her five young children while her husband works full time. Her family receives Family Tax Benefit A and B. She believes these tax benefits are incorrectly labelled as welfare. “There’s an idea that if you’ve worked incredibly hard in paid work for 90 hours a week then you’ve earned every dollar you have. But if you’ve been doing something else in unpaid work, then you’ve turned into a bludger and you’re getting Government handouts.”
Rodger Powell is the Director of Tourism Accommodation Australia. He says there are 30,000 unfilled jobs in his sector because people don’t want to apply for them. But he believes that “no one should be able to be unemployed while they wait for the job of their dreams”.
Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.