Politics and The Battle for Bayswater (Victoria)
Remember when Heidi Victoria M.P’s REDICULOUSLY (sic) wet Facebook rant denounced Centrelink recipients across the country by likening them through association to “criminals” and “thugs” who are laughing their way to national welfare offices? NO? I do.
As if the clowns in Canberra haven’t been enough this week… it’s Victorian State Election season… and the letterbox propaganda for Bayswater has already commenced. My dog Barlie and I have met our current sitting M.P and found her pleasant enough (she actually visited our house). Also we (Heidi and I) were also both members of the local Rotary Club… but I also have a long memory and an unimaginable thirst for social justice.
Some time back the current sitting Liberal MP for Bayswater Heidi Victoria published an online rant utilising caps lock inspired passion in several places. This post denounced “criminals” and “thugs” who she suggested would be “laughing all the way to Centrelink offices.” The MP also urged others to share her RIDICULOUSLY badly worded, over-zealous and ill- fated message on social media via Facebook.
On the sitting members post (which has since been edited but had already been diligently screen shotted for future reference by myself), the sitting member used her social media following to declare that her home state of Victoria was “OUT OF CONTROL.” The post in question excitedly suggested to “Dan” (aka The Premier of Victoria) that “Enough is enough.” It was a thinly veiled suggestion that promoted the idea that a new Liberal state government was preferable.
This post was troubling for a number of reasons not restricted to the fact that the word REDICULOUS (sic) required editing for spelling. Perhaps more importantly though and troubling, was the notion that it’s ok to demonize and generalise against an entire demographic of vulnerable welfare recipients, who for one reason or another have to rely on Centrelink payments for support. Having visited the offices of Centrelink myself many moons ago I can assure you there are few laughs to be had in engaging with the nightmarishly bureaucratic head-spinning, merry go round of paper pushing and lengthy waiting periods.
In one irresponsible and arguably callous and short- sighted post, the sitting member for Bayswater, Victoria managed to associate the national welfare agency office attendees with the likes of criminals and thugs. We can only hope this was a passion inspired brain fade and an apology or explanation will ensue. I believe that Heidi Victoria MP would do well to remember that while welfare recipients may be deemed as second- class citizens in her books, they are still very much entitled to vote, including in her own home electorate in the ironically modest Bayswater in Melbourne’s Outer East.
The social media generated post published on the M.P’s parliamentary ‘fanpage’ account also raises questions about whether the sitting member of parliament is aware of the separation of powers between the Premier of Victoria, Mr Daniel Andrews (who recently appointed three thousand new police, despite accusations of being soft on crime) and the judiciary who are responsible for sentencing. When questioned on this point in an edited version of the post the sitting member responded that the separation of powers was not the point but rather the government’s general weakness on crime had sent the wrong message to “crooks.”
Heidi Victoria M.P also found it a shame (at that times) that others were not as OUTRAGED (in capitals no less) as herself about what’s happening (we presume in terms of crime) in our home state. She has since been reminded in the comments section (of her edited version of the post) that the State Labor government not only appointed three thousand extra police, but reformed parole laws and was tough on youth detainees who wreaked havoc in the Parkville juvenile justice facility. But also that indeed it’s the Liberal government who have had an absence of social policies or record on infrastructure into dealing with crime.
One can only hope that neither Heidi Victoria M.P herself (or in fact any of her loved ones) ever befall tough times such as disability, poverty or chronic illness and require government subsidised support in the form of welfare. Should this happen that may indeed find it necessitous to visit Centrelink and perhaps swallow her own rhetoric for a few hundred bucks to live on. One would hope that a member of parliament would have empathy towards welfare recipients and be acutely aware that social security benefits recipients such as those who have acquired (or are born with) a disability, are studying and social economically disadvantaged, are caring for someone else, are single parent families or have becoming impoverished for reasons of unemployment.
Perhaps the next state election results will indicate whether or not unemployment is something the M.P may experience herself. As the saying goes, ‘only time will tell’, although with posts like this one being shared among her constituents, she’s certainly not doing herself too many favours on that front. “Lettuce” decide who is really being slapped in the face here (pun intended).