Former Liberal minister Pru Goward has faced backlash for an article published in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on Wednesday.
The opinion piece entitled "Why you shouldn't underestimate the working class" referred to disadvantaged and vulnerable community members as "proles", a reference to George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.
Is there a more elitist and condescending piece of shit in Australian public life than Pru Goward?— Real Mark Latham (@RealMarkLatham) October 19, 2021
And the Western Sydney University has made her a Professor of something - what a gutting, self-defeating moment for our region.https://t.co/0R37shGzqw
The state representative for the Goulburn electorate retired in 2019 after almost 12 years in the role. During this time she held many roles including: minister for family and community services, minister for social housing and minister for women.
In the AFR article Mrs Goward referred to an "underclass" who "are always the last to give up smoking, get their shots and eat two servings of vegetables a day".
She said social workers "despair of their appalling housework, neglect of their children and, notably, their sharp and unrepentant manner when told to lift their game by the patronising do-gooder."
"Despite the billions of dollars governments invest in changing the lives of proles, their number increases. Their birth rates far outstrip those of professional couples and they are now a significant potential contributor to our workforce."
The sneering opinion piece by Pru Goward in today’s Financial Review is a revealing, distressing insight into how some Australian conservatives see their fellow human beings.— Andrew Giles MP (@andrewjgiles) October 19, 2021
While Mrs Goward stated she likes "the poor" and "never have we needed them more to challenge modern meekism", politicians and community members have come out against the article.
It’s hard to describe how demeaning, superior and condescending this piece is. But if you ever wondered why public housing is in crisis, homelessness services failing and inequality growing this opinion piece from former Liberal Minister Pru Goward explains it pic.twitter.com/Lyah4n8lb5— David Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeMLC) October 19, 2021
Anglicare Southern region executive manager of community services Simon Bennett said "the article was not nuanced and reinforced some damaging stereotypes".
"Most of us are only one personal crisis away from being in poverty ourselves," he said.
"We always have an open door to any community leader who wants to sit down with us and understand our advocacy position and why generalising about poverty may be hurtful to the people we support.
"In contrast, we can provide examples from our organisation of people whose first contact with Anglicare was an experience of homelessness, who with support are now thriving independently.
"This includes some who through the accredited training we provide have moved on to permanent and even management roles within our organisation."
Pru Goward was contacted by the Post but declined to comment.
However, Mrs Goward told the Guardian Australia on Thursday she was "deeply disappointed" that her column had been "so badly misunderstood". But, she said, opinion pieces were "meant to provoke and I hope it's helped the readers of the AFR think differently about those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder".
"I have applied a Marxist analysis which some might say is old fashioned but which explains to me why people judge others as unworthy," she said.