Baby’s death on Australia’s Gold Coast points to worsening social conditions
29 November 2018
A passerby made the horrifying discovery last week of a dead baby girl, nine months old, washed up at Surfers Paradise, a prominent tourist beach on Australia’s Gold Coast. Though the plight of the infant’s parents, a homeless couple, had been known to police and government authorities for months, they have now been accused of criminal neglect and the father has been charged with murder.
While the immediate cause of the tragedy may be complicated, a picture has emerged of the desperate poverty gripping layers of workers and youth in Australia, caused by decades of attacks on public services and living standards carried out by successive governments, Labor and Liberal-National Coalition alike.
The tragedy is all the more revealing because the Gold Coast embodies the obscene poles of wealth created by capitalism, with homeless families living in tents, near sewers and under bridges, close to some of the most expensive homes in the country.
Police say they believe the baby drowned after being thrown into the Tweed River at Tweed Heads, about 30 kilometres south of Surfers Paradise, and was carried onto the beach by ocean currents. Police soon arrested the couple, describing them as “known to the police,” and later charged the father, a 48-year-old indigenous man, with murder. The mother, a 23-year-old former university student, underwent treatment at a mental health service, but police refused to rule out charging her with murder as well.
Police told a Gold Coast court the father had a history of “street offences” and mental health issues, including schizophrenia. He was living on a meagre disability pension. At one point, the couple and two infant…