Pru Goward’s Opining on the Poor Reveals Deep Political Class Prejudice

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Pru Goward

“So long as we keep looking at the billions of dollars they cost us, we will continue to dislike them, reject them and write them off,” says Pru Goward in relation to the poorest sector of the community.

The former NSW Liberal minister makes these remarks in her recent opinion piece on our society’s underclass.

In her appraisal of the poorest amongst us, Goward likens them to the “weasels” in the children’s book the Wind and the Willows, as they reject the rules and live by their own set.

Goward further finds that although the numbers of the very poor have been steadily increasing since the 1950s, the welfare state is “not entirely to blame” for this.

“The proles” are viewed “as huge cost centres”, she continues. They’re overrepresented in crisis services. They’re the last to give up smoking or to “eat two servings of vegetables a day”. And social workers lament their “appalling housework” and the “neglect of their children”.

But the truly horrifying aspect to the patronising diatribe is not just that the Australian Financial Review saw right to publish it on Tuesday, but it’s more so that whilst in office the author of the piece held ministerial positions that saw her administering state social welfare agencies and services.

The rich woman’s burden

Goward was a Liberal member of NSW parliament from 2007 through to 2019. And during this time, she held a long list of ministerial portfolios, which included a 2017 to 2019 stint as both minister for family and community services and minister for social housing.

The opinion piece shows that when she was responsible for the services dealing with people from lower socioeconomic circumstances, she either held them to be a spectacle of “fascination” or perceived the poor as figures who are “often damaged and almost entirely lacking discipline”.

“Despite the billions of dollars governments invest in changing the lives of proles, their number increases,” Goward continues from on high. “Their birth rates far outstrip those of professional couples, and they are now a significant potential contributor to our workforce.”

And in othering the underclass to such a degree, Goward not only exposes her own prejudice, but points to an attitude within the political class that considers the poor as intrinsically alien and sees the slim pickings it distributes to them as its own funds, rather than it coming from the public purse.

Fellow freedom fighters

Besides the need to express her ideas about her own superiority, it’s hard to see the point that current Western Sydney Social Intervention Professor Pru Goward is trying to make in her article Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate the Underclass.

That’s until you look beyond its stark bigotry.

As Goward peers down her nose at those whom the system is failing – and blames them for it – she asserts that the underclass formed a major part of the anti-lockdown protests of late, which seems to prop up her own unstated dissatisfaction with the public health response to COVID-19.

“The underclass can smell a fake at 50 paces,” Goward declares. “They were a significant part of the anti-vax protests… and even though many drew their inspiration from spurious websites, they had correctly identified the freedoms the rest of us had been only too happy to give up.”

According to Goward, even though state leaders “deplored the demonstrations”, they took heed of their messages, and she adds that these expressions of opposition are why opening up from pandemic restrictions “has gathered pace”.

The professor further considers that it’s due to the poor’s blatant self-interest that they were able to call the restrictions out, whereas it appears that those of her genteel breed were unable to break the ranks and cry foul.

“The child who cried ‘look at the King’ in The Emperor’s New Clothes was surely a member of the underclass,” the former minister ends her opinion piece in a somewhat conspiratorial tone.

Image: “Pru Goward” by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity Photographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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