Fair Work recently announced an $18.80-a-week minimum wage increase for the lowest-paid workers. For some reason any discussion about minimum wages or raising JobSeeker attracts opposition to such measures from their privileged corners. Out they come, all guns blazing about how no one ever gave them anything, how they had to work their way up, how society can’t afford it, and how the government could better spend that money on tax cuts. How quickly they forget how they got where they are now.

    I try to avoid getting dragged into these discussions, but as a fellow past beneficiary of free university education, student tertiary financial support, medical and dental services and for a short period many years ago, unemployment benefits, I’m grateful for these and the opportunities they opened up for me, and am of the belief that our society can and should provide these to current and future generations.

    So yes, the lack of recognition of the huge advantage many people around my age gained through these wonderful socialist democratic initiatives bothers me, and occasionally I bite – like this conversation below:

    Them: “The free market should be allowed to determine the minimum wage”

    Me: “You make the rich and powerful so happy when you repeat this message for them. In the meantime we’ve been desensitised to the mechanisms of inequality to the point that, not only do we not even notice them anymore, they seem fair.”

    Them: “Equality? Everyone should make their equality”

    Me: “It’s a sad day when you can’t see your own privilege, or acknowledge the part it has played in the comfortable life you and your family now enjoy”

    Them: “Well I never had a minimum wage”

    Me: “Legislating a liveable minimum wage is an indication of a society’s moral evolution.”

    This is where I tend to bail – I’ve made my point and if the other person can’t see their privilege even now, it might take more persuasion than I have the energy for.

    But perhaps living on sub-minimum wages or JobSeeker for a while might do it?

    Derek Green, Managing Editor (

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

    Your feedback

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here



    Latest Articles

    Latest edition

    #97 June 2024

    Recent editions


    Become a supporter

    The Westsider is run on the power of volunteers. Your contribution directly contributes to ensuring we can continue serving and celebrating our community.

    Related articles