Inequality is a Choice

Kym Goodes, CEO

This year 5,000 Tasmanian households, 5,000 mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends went without meals because they couldn’t afford food.

In our State, a place of celebrated beauty and fresh produce, your neighbour went hungry.

If you had known this, would you have invited them in for a meal?

This week, the Tasmanian Government decided that some people on a pension were deserving of a $125 rebate on their energy costs. And in making that choice, your Government also decided some people were undeserving.

Is that the choice you would have expected, if you had known your Government was making a decision on where to distribute a percentage of the dividend from our Tasmanian-owned energy organisations?

The way economies, States and communities look, feel and behave are the results of choices made by human beings.

It is easy to forget sometimes that the economic, social and cultural imbalances in our State and around the world haven’t just happened, they are the direct outcomes of decisions made by political representatives, by businesses, by people.

Governments can sometimes find it simpler to speak as if they and their predecessors aren’t the ones pulling the strings – that poverty, inequality and joblessness are the choices of individuals rather than the results of economic policies.

The truth is it is exactly these people that have the ability to make different choices, ones that benefit our community interest instead of the vested interest or the next great economic saviour for our island.

Our government can make decisions that entrench the imbalances in our State, decisions that exclude and disconnect the majority of Tasmanians and their communities.

Or they can make decisions that empower us, paving the way to a richer, more rewarding life for us all.

Poverty and inequality aren’t just about a lack of money, they are also about a lack of power. Poverty is a symptom of a power imbalance in society.

This power can also be used for the benefit of humanity and powerful decision making can be shared.

We want to see government make decisions that are fair and equitable, that take into account the needs of all, not the needs of some.

We don’t want to see decisions that divide, decisions that send signals to our community that government think some of them are deserving and some are not.

So the decision made by our Government this week to give a $125 power rebate to just one carefully chosen group rather than to all those in dire need, all those on a pension, was a conscious choice.

Our State Government made a choice this week. Is it the choice you want them to make?