Responsibility for a roof over your head

Some people just don’t get the message about personal responsibility, do they? Even if they can say with some validity that life has not been kind to them, their behaviour marks them as architects of their own demise.

The issue arises from a government crackdown in my home state of Queensland (Australia) on recalcitrant public housing tenants. You know, the types who constantly annoy their neighbours and who refuse to take proper care of the property they are being provided with.

Delivering his own version of the sermon on the mount, the responsible Minister wagged his finger and warned tenants of taxpayer-subsidised housing that their accommodation is a privilege that comes with certain responsibilities.  Adopting a stern visage he admonished that there will now be a three strikes and you’re out policy in place.

Well, whoop-de-do! I love a bit of strong talk. And a good finger-wagging always looks good on television. But, seriously, why do we bend over backwards to help those who refuse to help themselves?

Make no mistake I’m not criticising those who are legitimately down on their luck. We are a wealthy society and we demean ourselves if we do not give a helping hand to those in need.

But when some bite that hand, I wanna slap ‘em!

For instance, the Minister warned tenants that “at a bare minimum, people are expected to refrain from destroying the property or using it to conduct a criminal enterprise.” My goodness, what impossibly high standards he is setting. But in case they didn’t get the message, he also warned that they could be evicted if – three times in a year – they host out-of-control parties, are guilty of aggressive behaviour to neighbours or vandalism.

But the Minister’s wrath knows no bounds for he finally dealt the big blow: if they did get evicted for this kind of behaviour they would not be allowed to reapply for public housing for three months! Truly this man is a monster – he has a heart that could freeze nitrogen.

For those who have not watched our local current affairs programs (and you should consider yourself bloody lucky on that count) you will have not seen the large number of houses absolutely trashed – rendered completely unoccupiable – by tenants who smash walls, leave excreta and other rubbish in living areas and similar appalling acts.  And those who grow dope in the ceilings or who cook speed behind blacked-out windows.

And don’t think we are talking about a very small minority here. Oh, no. The damage bill run up by these unruly tenants came to $5 million last year and there were just under 25,000 complaints about anti-social behaviour. And over three years, tenants were issued with 103,126 breach notices.

Really, at what point do we say taxpayers are being played for fools to keep subsidising people like this and tell these tenants that one strike is out. If soft love is being abused then let’s introduce some of the tough kind.