We spent $30.3 billion on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the 2013 financial year, more than what is currently spent on defence. How did we get to this sorry pass? Aboriginal tribes wandered around the continent for millennia. Occasionally they were joined by others. For example, there was in influx of boat people from southern India 4,230 years ago that has contributed about 10% of the modern Aboriginal gene pool in northern Australia. After European settlement, missionaries went out into the desert to save souls. They handed out free flour, so Aboriginal groups came out of the desert because that beat having to search for dinner.
Then Gough Whitlam became prime minister and he resented the role of the churches in running Aboriginal missions. So he nationalised them. What had been done very cheaply is now accomplished at great expense, compounded by a romantic notion of Aboriginals living on the land. So the descendants of Whitlam have pushed Aboriginal settlements as far out into the desert as they can. For example, at 19° 23’ 07” S, 126° 13’ 23” E, in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia, there is an uninhabited settlement with a working satellite phone from which you can make free phone calls. One comes across such wonders in the desert fairly often.
Tony Abbott has suggested that living out in the desert is a pointless thing to do and is, in fact, a lifestyle choice which the federal government does not want to fund anymore. As Alan Moran has recently reminded us, the federal budget position is dire and any savings would be welcomed. So if lifestyle choices are on the table, let’s help Mr Abbott by pointing out a number of other lifestyle choices that could be defunded.
The first that springs to mind is single motherhood. These are women too lazy to attract and hold a mate, undoing the work of possibly three million years of evolutionary pressure. This will result in a rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly. We know what causes pregnancy these days, so everyone who gets pregnant outside of marriage is a volunteer. This is an easy one for defunding.
Second, the 800,000 Australians on the disability pension. OK, not all of them. But a good proportion are able to drive cars, bash police and each other, go fishing and so on. We often hear about disability pensioners because their active lifestyle resulted in a contretemps with another party, most recently the recipients of disability payments who have overcome their infirmities to take up arms against civilisation in Syria and Iraq.
Now comes federally funded childcare. This is a lifestyle choice. Looking after children is very labour-intensive. We evolved that way, with a prolonged childhood, to allow for synapse refinement in our big, energy-consuming brains. Some mothers elect to look after their children themselves, or do so because distance from a job makes work impractical. Mothers who do work are, in effect, cross-subsidising those who also leave their children to the care of strangers. If society wishes to encourage childbearing, it should reward that with tax rebates to the childbearing pair and leave it at that.
That is a few for starters. There are plenty more.
David Archibald, a visiting fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., is the author of Twilight of Abundance (Regnery, 2014)