Parton: Up the workers!

“There were so many calls. Many were in favour of what the Coalition is trying to achieve, despite the local pain,” writes MARK PARTON

WELL, Canberra, that was a bit of a whack in the face, wasn’t it?

Mark Parton.

Mark Parton.

The Federal Budget was pretty much as bad as we thought it was going to be and the public service cuts nearly as bad as what Labor would have served up, but there’s not much point in arguing that one either way.

In radioland, the Budget put our phones into overdrive. There were so many calls. Many were in favour of what the Coalition is trying to achieve, despite the local pain.

I spoke to Judy who’s on a disability support pension. Although supporting the general direction of the Budget, she worries about her personal situation.

“I’d love to be able to work… but I simply can’t,” she told me. She’s aware that now she’ll be assessed by a doctor appointed by the government to ascertain the level of work that she’s capable of, if any.

Judy said she’ll try to do whatever they want her to, but she’s worried it will end in tears.

I spoke to Wendy, whose husband Wayne is resigned to the fact that his time at the ATO is over. He’s been there for 20 years working in a very specialised field.

“I don’t know what he’ll do,” she said. “He may end up working a checkout at Woolies or at a service station if he has to.”

Wendy’s biggest concern is that at 48, Wayne may not get even a low-wage job and she’s extremely worried about them keeping the house.

I got a call from Ross who had been retrenched two days earlier. Ross is 52, he’s an electrical contractor. He told me the work in his firm had slowed, but it was still a “bolt from the blue” when they called him in.

What’s he going to do? He doesn’t know.

“I thought my life would be all in order and going to plan at 52,” he said, “but clearly it’s not.”

Ross typifies the Canberra response to this sort of adversity; a bit shaken, but determined to play the cards he’d been dealt, confident that his next hand would be better.

Our next hand will be better, but it’s a long time between games at this table.