Paying For The Pandemic Welfare State

The following article from Spectator Australia

We need to stop looking to the government to resolve all of our problems – especially since many of our existing difficulties have been created by the State.

Covid ‘emergency’ laws have exacerbated our country’s toxic reliance upon the State, a trend already on the rise prior to Australia’s first lockdown in March, 2020. It is high time we stopped reaching for handouts. To wean ourselves off, we should start by ending the pandemic disaster payments in Australia that are a burden to taxpayers and a drain on our economy. 

Some weeks ago, Federal Health Minister Mark Butler had it right when he pushed back against pressure to prolong the cut-off date of Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments, conveying the common-sense position that emergency payments cannot last forever. However, the federal Labor Party caved to pressure from parochial Premiers, the majority of whom favoured an extension of the payments. It is worth noting that both Victoria and New South Wales are approaching state elections within the next twelve months. No doubt this had some influence on their decision.

According to our federal government, the premise of the payment is the provision of financial support ‘if you can’t earn an income because you or someone you’re caring for has to self-isolate or quarantine due to Covid’. Therefore, in order to scrap the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, governments at state level must reverse their mandated seven-day isolation orders for workers in the event they test positive for Covid.

Coddling Covid positive individuals doesn’t make any sense, not when you consider how workers sick with gastro, the flu, or any other ailment have no financial support when they can’t work. Despite our impressively high vaccination uptake, our government continues to spend up to $750 to support those with Covid.

The worst part is this special support is completely unnecessary. There are already welfare measures in place to support those in need. And there’s no good reason to believe this support is going to those who need it.

Remember, 38 per cent of the first $70 billion paid under the JobKeeper Scheme went to companies that did not experience a fall in sales. It’s reasonable to suspect a similar trend with respect to the Disaster Payments. I myself know of more than a few young people, still living at home and enjoying relative economic security, that have taken advantage of the payment. At worst, this displays a shocking state of entitlement, but a generous welfare system such as ours will always be vulnerable to exploitation by those with loose morals. What’s worse is the spread of the toxic mentality that the government can come in to save the day, no matter the cost.

Free thinkers have to ask: At what point exactly will we stop treating the pandemic as a ‘disaster?

We have passed the winter peak, and the weather is getting warmer. 96.2 per cent of Australians aged 16 or over have received two doses of the vaccine, with 71.5 per cent having received three. In addition, a sizeable percentage of the populace have already contracted Covid. The Victorian Department of Health website states that the recently extended ‘Public Safety’ Order (the third of this Pandemic), will expire on 12 October 2022. Do we really need to wait until October? In my home state of Victoria, we’re staring down the barrel of monstrous debt. Now is the time to unwind Covid laws and tighten up on unnecessary fiscal expenditure. 

By 2026, net debt will be more than a quarter of the state’s economy. It’s young people who will be paying off this debt and the interest it accumulates in the decades to come. This means they’ll pocket less and less of their hard-earned money. What an awful legacy to inherit! 

Since November 2014, the Andrews Labor government has imposed over 40 new or increased taxes and charges, many of which were introduced during years of relatively stable economic conditions. Emerging from Covid, buried in debt and facing surging inflation, Victorians and Australians more broadly are paying the price for the fiscal irresponsibility of successive state and federal governments. 

You don’t have to be an epidemiologist or a doctor to understand the basic principles of living in a healthy democratic society. Our elected officials would do well to remember their purpose: to represent and serve us, not to dictate our lives. It is vital that we have reputable medical professionals advising the government during times of gravity, but our politicians must listen to their advice alongside our economic advisors, mental health experts, and everyday Australians from all walks of life whom they are supposed to represent. 

We need to stop looking to the government to resolve all of our problems, too much taxpayer money has already been wasted. Let’s start by unwinding the Disaster Payments. 

Mark Burgess is a contributor for Young Voices Australia.

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