Ok, so I decided to look at the numbers yesterday, and they weren’t pretty. I discovered that my gross earnings over the last 8 weeks are approximately 60% of my fortnightly take-home (i.e., AFTER TAX) income in my last job. In fact, each week now I earn less than half of what I used to pay in tax each week.
Now – I know that money’s not everything, but I also know that’s a statement that’s usually made by people who have enough of it, ha ha. So I won’t be saying it any more. I’ll be too busy trying to stay one-step ahead of Centrelink, on whose tender mercies I do not want to fling myself. Here’s why.
Yesterday I thought to see if I would be eligible for a low-income health care card. Hell yes, I most certainly am, seeing as I earn very little income now. So – how do I get one? Well, I can go to the local tele-centre and use their special Centrelink phone, sit in a ghastly empty room that’s painted bright orange to make you feel better about the fact that you’re needy enough to be checking out Social Security options. I can talk to a bright recorded voice who tells me which buttons to press on the phone just so that I can be registered to talk to someone real. Yep, you don’t even get to talk to a real human being.
Or, if I get tired of that, or just too damned demoralised to continue going round and round in telephone circles, I can go home, get on my own computer and use up all my printer ink printing out an application form for a health care card. Get this: for a Low-Income Health Care Card, which is valid for EIGHT weeks, and based on your previous EIGHT weeks’ gross earnings, you have to sell your soul and fill out a TWENTY-EIGHT PAGE application (which would probably take another EIGHT weeks!) give Centrelink details of your drivers licence, medicare card, surrender your passport, give them your first-born child blah blah blah (ok, I exaggerate just a teensy bit.) No bloody thanks – and if you have to fill out a 28-page application form just to get 8 weeks of cheaper prescriptions and bulk-billing at the doctor, I shudder to think of the hoops you have to jump through to actually get the dole! Amazing! Negotiating the bureaucratic labyrinth and filling out all the ghastly paperwork would waste valuable dunny-cleaning time, and involve a whole lot more shit than dunny-cleaning does as well!
So – while I’ve paid my taxes all my working life, it looks like I won’t be getting any of them back from Centrelink anytime soon. I can access my superannuation when I’m 55, so I just need to hang in there for 15 months. Oh, I can get my super early – I checked – but I’d have to give back 21% of it to the government in tax. Um…. Didn’t I already pay tax on the salary from whence my super contributions came??? I don’t get it. The government bean-counters are working their white man magic and keeping this little bunny under-the-thumb-in-the-dark-at-their- mercy.
Don’t mind me letting off steam. I’m feeling like I’ve been the butt of a big governmental joke right now. “Work hard, pay your taxes and the country will look after you.” No it bloody won’t! (and this is a country with allegedly fabulous social security provisions…but I suppose that's all relative, isn't it, and a topic for another time. This post is All About Me Me Me ;-) )
I suppose I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself – that itchy monstrosity on my back turned out to be shingles, and I feel like crap. I have bugger-all energy, my arm hurts, my head hurts, and the last thing I want to think about is how to stay one step ahead of Centrelink and still pay my bills.
Ok, so Betty’s thinking-cap is firmly squashed onto her little round head. When Basil smacked me in the head at 4am, these were the thoughts I came up with:
- Bugger off Basil – we don’t get up until 6am.
- Hassle the school for work now that the Vic school hols are over – be the squeaky wheel.
- Put up signs around town advertising my services as a brilliant tutor.
- Contact Cann River School to follow up re casual work there (70kms away).
- Contact Marshmead (MLC’s outdoor ed campus on the other side of the inlet, accessible only by boat – wheeeeeee!) re creative writing workshops each term.
- Try to get more cleaning work (I think I’m about to add a fifth cleaning gig to my list, but now that tourist season is over, I suspect there won’t be much work to be had in the holiday accommodation area for a while now.)
- Buy a lottery ticket.
- Sell the Harley. WHAT? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
- You’re clearly delirious/deranged. Go back to sleep. It’s only 4.30am