Today a former Labor Minister suggested that Australia would be a much nicer place if poor people just wouldn’t breed so much.
Gary Johns, who served as a Minister in the Keating Government, said that people claiming government assistance – specifically the dole – should be forced to show that they were taking contraception to receive the money they need to live on.
Oh sorry, did I say people? I meant to say, “women”. Because that is who Johns was really talking about in his column for The Australian today.
Gary Johns, a former Keating Government Minister.
Johns’ column opens:
“If a person’s sole source of income is the taxpayer, the person, as a condition of benefit, must have contraception. No contraception, no benefit.”
Under his proposal, which he insists should be seriously considered and attract bipartisan support, women would not receive any government assistance unless they can show their pill prescription to Centrelink.
“So when a person applies for a benefit you have to bring along a note from the doctor, that I have now taken the following drug, and will remain on it while I am on the dole,” Johns suggests, helpfully.
And it gets worse.
Just to ram home exactly who he’s talking about in his opinion piece, Johns draws an exceptionally ugly link between parents drawing government assistance and the mother accused of murdering her eight children in Cairns earlier this month.
“A single mother with nine children from five fathers … better this woman had fewer children,'” he wrote in his column.
It’s difficult to know where to start with how ridiculously offensive this proposal is.
Even if we’ve don’t talk about the fact that people who are on income support are not there by choice.
Even if we discount the fact that Johns is targeting people with a disability, people who are injured or unwell, people who are in work but on perilously low wages – all through no fault of their own.
Even if we can overlook that his proposal consciously and offensively discriminates against people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent and young people. Even if we discount how invasive and unethical it is to ask someone to be medicated to receive a benefit.