WHILST INDIVIDUAL CASES may deserve a hearing and even sympathy, restrictions on the availability of welfare payments — especially for new arrivals and naturalised citizens — exist for good reasons; the sob story carried in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today is unfortunate, even regrettable, but a naturalised sole parent demanding welfare without entitlement, who contributes by choice to her own hardship, is owed nothing by this country.
Before we get started, I should like to make it clear that I have spent some time considering whether or not to comment on the issue at the centre of today’s article; ultimately, the decision to do so came down to weighing the circumstances (as presented) of the parent involved against the reasonable community expectations embedded in regulations governing access to taxpayer-funded welfare payments, and viewed from such a perspective the decision was a straightforward one.
The fact the parent saw fit to participate in a feature carried in the second-most read newspaper in the country is relevant in this regard, too.
But after being struck mute with disbelief in reading the story of a recently naturalised single mother from Poland who is demanding a lump-sum back-payment of parenting payments to which she is not entitled, that speechless state quickly gave way to anger when I also noted this lady sends her child to a private school, refuses to vaccinate him, lives in a low socio-economic area near Nimbin in the NSW north coast hinterland, and recently purchased a car.
The woman — Agnieszka Swiatlowska, 38, from Poland — has the audacity and the nerve to claim she is being “discriminated against” by having to wait until September to receive parenting payments, despite a mandatory statutory 104-week waiting period for naturalised citizens to be given access to higher welfare payments that she would (or, if competent, should) have been fully aware of when she took the oath of citizenship.
I note that, by her own admission, taxpayers are already shelling out $530 per fortnight — presumably in unemployment benefits — and it does seem on the face of it that some kind of concession has been made in her case, for the Tele notes Swiatlowska became a citizen in March, but is eligible for increased access to welfare payouts in September this year, which is a quarter of the 104-week waiting period that typically applies.
Like anyone who thinks the world owes them a living, Swiatlowska’s case for preferential treatment appears to rest on little more than a defiant claim that she is “entitled” to more money from the Australian taxpayer, despite all evidence pointing to the opposite being the case.
And whilst lifestyle choices are a matter for individuals — such as living in hippy settlements in the hills behind Byron Bay — the question of just what Swiatlowska is doing (or has done) to improve her position or to find work is a pertinent one indeed.
It’s very nice that she spends two hours per week cleaning at her son’s school; on the face of it, this is the sort of thing you do without complaint when you find that life has backed you into a tight spot.
But the merits of even this are dubious when it is considered that by her own admission, the cleaning activities are not to generate income as such, but to offset some of the $600 per term she is spending to put her son through a private Steiner school, and I would make the point that whilst there is nothing wrong with private schools or aspiring to send your kids to one, they are hardly mandatory for a five-year-old child, and a dispensable option indeed when you literally don’t have the money to pay for them.
But this doesn’t seem to bother Swiatlowska, who says in the article that she recently purchased a car. What kind? How much did it cost? Where did the money come from? These are all things Centrelink and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, at both of which she lost appeals over the refusal of the Department of Social Services to cave in to her demands for more money, would have taken into account.
Rather, she has the temerity to complain that because she doesn’t have a pension card, she had to pay the full rate of registration on the car: and this, in turn, raises the point that if she is ineligible, she would have known about that too, upfront, or that she has too much money in the bank for Centrelink to give her one.
Yet Swiatlowska seems to think Australia is indebted to her, and privileged by, her decision to take out citizenship; as the story in the Tele runs, because she has paid taxes in the past on employment she undertook as a permanent resident (just like every other permanent resident and Australian citizen who works) and because she voted in the NSW state election in March (a privilege of Australian citizenship) she has discharged “obligations” that somehow entitle her to what she is demanding — an entitlement that does not exist — and that she is being discriminated against because she lost a fight she picked with Centrelink over the matter.
To add insult to injury, she also has the nerve to complain that she will lose out when changes to family tax benefits come into force next year that strip payments from those who refuse to vaccinate their children, and I can only say that her jibe about “not (selling) her son’s health for the money” is so irresponsible, and so hopelessly misguided in its apparent guiding beliefs (pity the child!) as to be virtually beneath contempt.
Citizenship does not exist as some mechanism through which new arrivals to this country obtain some unquestionable automatic right to extract more money from hard-working taxpayers; there is understandable hostility to asylum seekers and other newcomers to Australia being put straight onto unemployment benefits and given taxpayer-funded “establishment” packages as it is without cases like this being given high-profile public platforms as the Tele has done to spruik mass appeals to the bleeding hearts and chardonnay drunks and others in our midst who think that government exists solely to shower socialist largesse on anyone who thinks they are entitled to it.
Paying $600 per term for a 5yo to go to a private school on the one hand, whilst crying poor on the other, is an idiotic contradiction that someone in Swiatlowska’s position shouldn’t have blundered into in the first place, and attempting to use this discretionary, arbitrary and unnecessary expenditure item as part of her “case” against the taxpayer is grotesque.
If she genuinely “(wants) to work, I’ve got skills to offer,” then perhaps instead of living in the middle of Bumblefuck, she ought to consider moving to one of the plethora of larger regional centres dotted along the NSW north coast where work might be easier to obtain than sitting in some pot-addled two-horse town complaining about her plight.
She could drive there in the car she bought in spite of her straitened circumstances.
And if voting at elections is such an onerous task, and one for which her fellow citizens ought to be thankful financially for the fact she deigned to even bother, then perhaps Australia isn’t the place for her at all: perhaps an Asian country that pre-selects “acceptable” candidates for citizens to rubber-stamp might be better suited. Or, better still, one of the multitude of dictatorships in the Middle East, Africa, South America or even North Korea, where they save people the trouble of having to vote at all.
There will be some who protest that I don’t know this woman’s full story but, I assure you, neither do they; as sympathetic as the Tele‘s article might appear, I will guarantee there are details of her fight with Centrelink and the ensuing appeals that are not included, either because they would detract from the argument or — more probably — because having been gifted with such a public soapbox from which to shout her claim, Swiatlowska isn’t silly enough to squander it by disclosing details that would harden public opinion against her.
The point is that when it comes to blatant and brazen parasites on Australia’s welfare system, where there is one, there are usually others, and whilst I have enormous sympathy for the poor kid stuck in the middle of this — after all, he’s been given no say in whether he catches whooping cough, measles, or any of the other easily preventable diseases sweeping the area he lives in as a direct consequence of the mentality of people like his mother — I have no sympathy or regard for the mother’s “plight” at all.
At the end of the day, rather than demanding others in society meet the cost of an unreasonable and unjustifiable lifestyle, judged on the factors she has now presented publicly, perhaps this upstanding member of Nimbin society should take ownership of her life, her own situation, and cut her cloth according to her means. And if that means leaving the literally dizzying environment of the hills behind Byron Bay to get a job, then so be it.
In closing, I simply make the point that I’m not singling Swiatlowska out: she’s done that all by herself by giving such a ridiculous and implausible account of herself to the Daily Telegraph.
Yet, perversely, she has indeed done the country a favour: she has shone the spotlight directly on the kind of mentality that has no place in modern Australia, and her demands to be treated differently and given more money than the law entitles her to should be dismissed with contempt by anyone tempted to feel pangs of pity for her.
This country does not need welfare addicts, leeches, or others similarly imbued with the entitlement mentality and the arrogant presumption that the country owes them something when they refuse to get off their arses and help themselves.
That sentiment applies to everyone, whether citizens, permanent residents, or new arrivals: with “rights” come responsibilities, and I’m sick of being expected to pick up the cheque as a taxpayer for people like this who refuse to take their responsibilities seriously.
This has been an unfortunate glimpse at a problem that I suspect is far more widespread than the welfare lobby and the political Left would have people believe. And it is the kind of warped world view that must be stamped out at all costs.