How much evidence do Australians need that the traditional ‘fair go’ ethos of the country is being seriously eroded as ‘the crooks’ take over governance as well as business and our whole society more generally? What is needed to get/help/encourage people to successfully fight back against this? How to get people to better appreciate that not only can the crooks be actively stood up to (rather than just complained about) – but that most tend to be pretty gutless ultimately, and that even corporations as well as politicians will back down when appropriately challenged (especially so when enough people unite together to fight great unfairness, overwhelming dishonesty and any challenging crisis)?
A Current Affair story (1) during the week highlighted just how bad things are getting (in terms of rip-off predators) for even ‘the poorest and most vulnerable in our society’ – as they introduced the segment. By this they referred to retired and/or unemployed seniors having to live in caravan-cum-mobile home Parks and really struggling to make ends meet. As in so many other industries and types of business, there appears to be an association or perhaps informal network of Park owners in regions around Australia which are apparently sharing new ways of gouging or ripping of their customers – and who then hide behind appointed managers and new ‘rules’ made up on the fly to bully people (the ‘greedy bastards’ as Ken puts it in the story). The particular scam reported in the story relates to these Parks in NSW charging high inflated extra charges for electricity (once included in nominal charges) as well as water, service fees, etc.– in fact, exploiting some unintended loophole to typically gouge these seniors and other residents up to three times the actual bill.
Of course, all the ‘victims’ are stunned at how devious and unfairly profiteering this particular rip-off is – and how arrogant and what impunity is demonstrated by the owners/managers involved. Understandably most feel that that there is nothing they can do – which is exactly what the owners/managers hope for and exploit it seems. What was also interesting about this story was that near the end it mentions how one person fought back with a legal challenge and was successful in court – inspiring many others to consider a class action against a group of owners concerned. Even if they had not been successful, it was important to constructively channel the anger and outrage felt into holding those behind the rip-off to account – and to at least publicise what they are doing and generally embarrass them.
People need to understand that ‘the crooks’ are in the process of taking over here in Australia as well as in many places overseas – and the only thing that can stop all this is if enough people fight for themselves and also for others not able to defend themselves. In other words, people need to stop acting surprised about the scams (and related ‘crime and corruption’), and even seniors need to be ready to fight against unfair gouging and bullying. In previous postings we have not only focused on all manner of scams becoming normal in a changing world but how so many of these affect seniors – including the aged care centre scams, the funeral rip-offs, etc. (2, 3) Many are not aware of any of this – and especially how overseas profiteers such as Aveo have focused on Australian aged care centres and nursing homes as an easy target for their heartless gouging (just as they have other Australian companies, sectors, and infrastructure assets – the selling off Australia which most Australian politicians, bureaucrats and even media have often just turned a blind eye to. As Adele Ferguson quoted a typical seniors view on all to demonstrate the need for national inquiry, “Everybody knows that once you get old and you retire, you don’t have any rights as elderly people.” (4)
On a more optimistic note, the various relevant agencies of Australian governments can be forced into action – and over the weekend the PM announced a Royal Commission into abuses in the aged care and nursing home sector (5). This is a good start but will need to be followed up. Like the Banking Royal Commission still ongoing, the lifting of the lid on abuses, gouging and general rip-offs aimed at Australian seniors will no doubt shock a lot of people. Let’s hope that that such commissions get more people to realise the extent of ‘crookedness’ in our society these days – and both anticipate and also be ready to fight this in future.