With low unemployment, low inflation and 20 straight years of economic growth, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jessica Irvine is astounded at how so many Australians are carrying on as if they live in a debt-wracked European basket case. Younger Australians have never seen a recession, she says, and many older people seem to have forgotten what one looks like.
So why do people carry on like this? "There can be only one answer", says Irvine, "we are, as a nation, chucking a full-on, all-screaming, all-door-slamming teenage temper tantrum." Voters and business are like petulant teenagers and the government is like a weak-willed parent desperate for affection.
Irvine’s column was the talk of Twitter this morning. "Fantastic piece on what a pack of whingers Australians are", tweeted Bernard Keane while Aleta describes Irvine as "a breath of sensible in a world of stupid". Trent Driver writes: "Best piece I have read in a long time. Wish you could hear the debate by the teenage girls in my ecos classes. :)"
Others were less convinced. "I don’t understand why people like that Jess Irvine thing" said Jason Wilson. "More pundits telling the people they’re spoilt children."
Liam Hogan commented "three things missing from that piece: price of housing, major city rental vacancy rate, homelessness index." Sarah Toohey from Australians for Affordable Housing agreed, "Nice points Liam. Overall econ good, lots quite comfortable, but some have really difficult lives b/c of hsg."
Arriving just after the ACTU conference, Irvine’s column runs into their campaign on insecure work. Jason Wilson asked: "Haven’t we just heard at the ACTU congress that ppl feel chronically insecure?"
According to the ACTU’s Ged Kearney, millions of Australians are in casual jobs, contract jobs and labour hire work. "On top of low wages, and a lack of conditions like sick leave and holiday pay, there is a huge amount of uncertainty about when and how much people will work."
Matt Cowgill and Keiran McCarron took issue with Irvine’s claim that Australia’s welfare state is bloated. Cowgill wrote: "I disagree that our welfare system is ‘bloated’ (unless you include tax expenditures in your definition)" while McCarron tweeted: "I didn’t read your article. But if you’re calling a welfare system smaller than the US’s "bloated" you’re just politicking."
Irvine isn’t the only one arguing that Australians are complaining too much. The Australian newspaper’s George Megalogenis has pledged a "war on whinging". And that’s just where twitter user truckie is filing the piece, under #waronwhinging. Megalogenis says he might pitch a ‘war on whinging’ show to the ABC. Fake Paul Keating tweets: "if you get a show, @Jess_Irvine is in the stop whinging camp, and lot more photogenic than you".