There has been a bit of controversy in the media lately in the last week and a poor man named Duncan is unwittingly at the centre of it.
To explain, there is a TV program on Australia’s national broadcaster (ie not commercial station) the ABC called ‘Q&A’ which stands for question & answer – each week there are 5 invited panellists, different people each week, and the audience fire questions at the panellists. Often there are politicians on the panel and on the 9 May 16 episode the panellists included Assistant Treasurer and Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer.
Timing-wise, Australia is also about to go to the polls again soon and the budget is always a hot topic. One of the policies put forward by the incumbent party (Liberal National) is to lift the tax-free threshold for those earning over $80k per annum – in an effort to halt some tax ‘bracket creep’. It is estimated that only 20% of Australia’s working population earn this amount.
A man named Duncan Storrar was a member of the audience and pronounced himself to be not working full time and as having a disability. Mr Storrar asked a question of Ms O’Dwyer basically asking why give a tax break of what equates to only a few dollars a week to someone who will barely notice it, when so many others like himself who are far from wealthy are given nothing, and that to someone in his circumstance, the difference could mean being able to take his daughters for a movie, or not.
The responses provided were far from satisfactory and, in my opinion, quite dismissive – along the lines of ‘if you are on so little income you would not pay any tax’ – this from another panellist. To his credit, Mr Storrar was very eloquent and measured in his responses. He, like everyone, pays tax with every purchase we make (other than GST exempt items) and, as a percentage of his disposable income, Mr Storrar likely pays a heck of a lot more tax than those on higher incomes.
The fallout from this one simple question has taken everyone by surprise. A hashtag #IStandWithDuncan was created. A ‘Go Fund Me’ page set up for Mr Storrar established. (As far as I can tell, not at his request & without his knowledge, just as a gesture of goodwill). The Go Fund Me page raised around $60k. Mr Storrar has innocently become the poster boy for the Aussie battler.
Also, Mr Storrar’s adult son has come out to say that Mr Storrar is not a ‘worthy’ recipient of the money because he has had drug issues and criminal convictions.
What do I take from all this? A man has innocently asked a question of a politician as is his right, and has been vilified for it. Mr Storrar has since said this could affect his future job prospects and that he has concerns for his daughters’ wellbeing as part of the scrutiny.
In my opinion, the political party/media have merely engaged in a good old-fashioned muck-rake in an effort to discredit the questioner and thereby deflect from the fact that he has an excellent point. It matters not at all who asked the question, what matters is the answer. Australia is still waiting for a satisfactory response.
I agree with Mr Storrar that any tax breaks would be much better given to those who need them most. And for the record – Mr Storrar has stated that he will be donating some of his GoFundMe money to charity, while the bulk will be held in trust for his daughters’ education. I still stand with Duncan and all those like him