Who you calling rich?

AUSTRALIAN newspapers should be carrying big, red “Oh the humanity” warnings so readers can brace themselves for the horror that lies within. Death and destruction in China. Death and despotism in Burma.
And most harrowing of all: the unspeakable deprivations suffered by victims of the Rudd Government’s first budget.

Cyclone Swan and Earthquake Kev ripped through the nation just over a week ago. Linked to disturbances caused by the El Election effect, they generated gales of blistering spin and left an adhocratic Opposition on the verge of collapsing into a small, contradictory mound of rubble with a crew cut.

At first, civilian victims were hard to find. But the nation’s intrepid reporters knew they had to be buried somewhere, and battled tirelessly through the wreckage. Salvage teams fought their way east to the art-deco charmers in the barrister belt, and west to the McMansions with their six-packs of lavatories in wall-to-wall garage land.

Finally, the first, gut-wrenching photos emerged: sobbing soccer mums and dads stripped of their baby bonuses, their Family Tax Benefit Bs and their next S-type Jaguars.

“There’s been a terrible mistake,” came the collective cry. “We’re not rich. We’re working families. Aspirationals. Battlers, even. Some days we don’t know how we’re going to keep the SUV fleet in petrol and the heirs in the care of French au pairs. We’re ruined, I tell you, ruined.”

Yet instead of emergency aid drops of white truffle oil and marinated Margaret River feta, these devastated Australians are having to endure hurtful scepticism about whether families earning more than $150,000 a year can really rank themselves among the un-rich.

Let’s get one thing straight. High-end victims of the latest Australian federal budget are not rich. As these plucky six-figured fighters have been so quick to point out, they are actually the working middle class. Also the neo-poor, the Prada-penniless and the honestly-we’re-practically-destitute-if-you-compare-us-to-the-Trumps.

The pearl sniffers of the world only earn so much because they work so hard (in stark contrast to differently wealthed Australians such as hotel toilet cleaners who spend most of their night shifts sitting back on their fat, lazy laurels). Crusty uppers are also crippled by massive lifestyle overheads (once again, unlike those lucky bastards who’ve never suffered the financial hardship of having to replace a Maserati Spyder wiper blade).

If all this wasn’t bad enough, the ruling Rudditary junta is exploiting the chaos by engaging in an unforgivable act of white-trash eugenics, pricing low-end babies at $5000 more a unit than elite stock. Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey is one of the few dissenters brave enough to speak out: “(In) the racing business we tend to look at the high achievers as those that should have foals.”

So please, Australia, let’s open our hearts and our middle-class welfare wallets and remember that merchant bankers with conga lines of zeros nesting in their bank accounts are poor people, too.

The second wave of victims to emerge in the budget aftermath are, of course, those lost souls who now have to pay more for pre-mixed alcoholic beverages.

No decent person could have failed to have been moved by the heartbreaking story of “ute man” Dave McKinlay who appeared on page one of The Australian last Thursday. The 27-year-old Brisbane plasterer exposed the true cost of the Government’s outrageous new economic maxim of boozer-pays when he revealed that a six-pack of bourbon and cola would now cost him an extra $7.

Yet once again, the nation’s heartless response has been nothing short of shocking. Some callous mongrels are suggesting that ready-to-drink beverages are for girls (also the Government line). Others are wondering why McKinlay can’t change tipples or simply buy a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of cola and mix these things together himself.

For God’s sake. This is a ute man we’re talking about here. He has a hard-earned thirst that needs a big cold can of something brown, not a poncy bottle of Brendan Nelson’s pink fizz.

Hopefully UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will stop wasting his time in Burma and China and send shipments of emergency alcopops to Australia — land of the great, white victim — to put us all out of our misery.

- originally published in The Australian on 22-05-2008.

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