Why, asked Kerry O'Brien, had the Government made housing the priority of its new policy commission on indigenous disadvantage?
"So that children can sleep safely at night, so that kids can do their homework in the afternoon, so that mothers and fathers can get ready for work the next day," she said.
What planet is she talking about where bricks and mortar can create such miracles?How right she is. Housing is not the problem. The problem is the behaviour of the people residing in that housing. We've spent billions over the past decade on building very nice brick and tile houses for poor trash, both black and white, and the behaviour of the recipients of much of that largess has not improved one iota.
On the other hand, I have friends who have lived in rather small weatherboard houses - accommodation that must rank as a much worse alternative - who have lived a normal family existence.
The quality of the housing stock that you live in does not appear to be a good indicator to me of how well your children will perform at school (assuming you bother to send them to one), how much money you earn or how many times DOCS comes knocking at your door.
I reckon if some horrible disaster struck Five Wog and we were all forced to live in a tent city erected on one of the local parks, that life would go on much as before. It would be harder, but the kids would still go to school, I would still go to work, and things like washing, homework, cooking and all the rest of it would continue to be done on a daily basis.
I can state that because I have spent several months living under canvas, cooking in the open air, crapping in an outdoor latrine dug into the ground, and working off a trestle table and reading by a gas lantern at night. Yes, showers are not as comfortable when they are cold and only last 3 minutes and have to be taken under a showerhead strung from a tree, and it's a pain to queue up to do a bundle of laundry at the communal washing machine, but it's not an excuse for sitting on your bum doing nothing.
There would of course be some people that would sit around on their arse all day, expecting "the government" to do everything for them. That's just human nature - on the great bell curve of life, there are those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that go "what the fuck just happened?"
Personally, unless they were 90 years old (like my neighbour) or struggling with a bunch of kids under the age of 5, I'd leave them sitting there - once they get hungry and cold enough, they might get off their arse and do something about it.
On the other hand, having worked with some world class whingers that wouldn't work in an iron lung, I think all that would happen is that the volume of whinging would steadily increase until those of us that had been working all day got sick of it and went and helped them out. Probably by whacking them over the head with a shovel.