Today I wandered into Centrelink
to find out if I had any government benefits coming my way. There’s a myriad of schemes – parenting allowance, child care allowance, rent assistance, family payment, to help families make ends meet. I pay quite huge amounts of taxes, and wondered if given my recent change in circumstances any of it could start flowing back at all. I wanted to make sure that I was getting everything that was owing to me, and nothing that wasn’t.

I compiled the documents suggested on the appointment confirmation notice – evidence of having two kids, evidence of my residency in Australia, income, that kind of thing. Marie, my designated Commonwealth Government Employee for this occasion, took one look at my income and said Nup, you’re earning way too much to get your hands on any of this. Ah well, fair enough. I’m not exactly scrounging. Thankfully she didn’t call me a greedy moneygrabbing bastard for even daring to ask.

Once we’d taken the thirty seconds to work out that I was eligible for nothing, Marie got chatting about self-employment, obviously eyeing up the income from my tax return and deciding that she was in the wrong job. She ended up telling me about her husband who’s working in computer networking, and asking what he could do to go contracting and join the ranks of those pulling in a hefty hourly rate.

She also said it made a pleasant change to see someone in Centrelink who had a half-decent income! Maybe she gets sick of dealing with all the poor people – I don’t know… maybe she really is in the wrong job.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.