It was budget night tonight, and like a good citizen, I listened to what Swan had to say.  And frankly, I wasn’t overly impressed.  Yes, they promised a boring budget, and a boring budget it was, but what really, really bugged me was, once again, the obsession with “working families”.

SIX TIMES the phrase was used in a speech that wasn’t very long.  Six times Swan mentioned the benefits of this budget for “working families”.

Several things bug me about the phrase. First, it’s the ambiguity.  What, exactly, constitutes a working family?  One parent working? Two? What about a family where the kids are all at school, but only one parent works? Is that still a working family?  Is it income-based? Can a family with two top-bracket incomes be considered a working family?  Must one have kids in order to be a “family”?  If so, do those kids have to be dependents?

But more than the ambiguity around what the phrase includes, it’s the very obvious matter of what the phrase excludes: single people.  As if managing on one income isn’t difficult enough, without the considerable financial benefits of sharing things like rent, food, and bills, we are constantly told by politicians that we don’t count.

For all the bitching about Generation Y, we have some real, legitimate things to complain about. Like the fact we’ll leave university with a $20,000 debt. Like the fact we can’t enter the property market for less then ten times our annual income. Like the fact we not only have to pay taxes that will pay pensions for those whose careers pre-dated super, but also pay into our super, ensuring future generations won’t have to pay for us.  We are the generation that are being double-dipped.  The Baby Boomers get the benefits of the property boom, while we’re paying their pensions and struggling to scrape together a deposit on a house.

We’re not apathetic. We do care. Outrage over environmental inaction and the internet filter must surely have shown that. So when will Australian politicians get over their fetish with working families, and start speaking to the young singles of generation Y, the voters of the next 50 years.

4 Responses

  1. I personally think that nobody is going to listen to us. It’s just easy to say ‘working family’ and wipe us off as annoying kids.

    I’m one year away from finishing my degree concurrently. I have HECs or whatever so thats fine. But if I want to pursue Masters I’m looking at between $20,000- a year ontop of other expenses which will mean I’ll probably have to work fulltime and do the course part time just to BARELY afford to give myself a better education. I think education should be invested into far more than anything else as it is research that shows how great a country is. Japans economy may be good for example but research is a problem due to people not going into those types of positions due to the difficulty.

    I haven’t worded this response too well but hopefully it gets across my frustration at having to prostitute myself (not literally) in order to obtain a decent education simply because of not coming from a wealthy background. Being lower-middle class sucks and it seems that the system is rigged for us to stay here.

  2. Your time will come, I know you were expecting that.

    Seriously, make hay while your sun shines, as your 20s & 30s pass quick enough that you’ll wish you whinged less & did more when you weren’t part of a “working family”..

    Your voting preferences may change later, so don’t fret on that either & I can assure you that the current gov’t doesn’t care that you’ll be voting for the next 50+ years! 😉

    Only $20k HECS debt? I started my degree 1 year before HECS came in originally & my HECS debt was > $20k by the time I got my degree & I think about doing a 2-3 yr post-grad qual now, but I’d see another $30k+ flushed before I finish!

    The property market’s easier to enter if you pool 2 x of your Gen Y income streams too (hint)..

    Do enjoy the fleeting time that you have, regards,
    Gen X.

  3. I agree with absolutely everything you say on this. Including the environmental part, because even I know littering is wrong.

    About the young singles part, I think the government would look at me and say “you want a fair go? Well go get married and have kids, you little poof!”

  4. I agree with you Erin, but being ignored by politicans is not just a Gen Y thing, it’s a single person issue. In 22 years of being a single, child-free voter I’ve never been the target of the Government’s largesse. As for being double-dipped, Gen X (me), the Joneses and Gen Y are sharing this burden right now.

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