In a speech delivered from London last night and subsequent TV interview, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey condemned the systems of unlimited entitlement in Western democracies and looked to our Asian neighbours as a more prudent way of handing out social welfare.
Mr Hockey’s comments were firmly aimed at European nations which spend as much as 30 per cent of GDP on welfare, health and pensions. That’s not to say he wasn’t also talking to Australia, which spends around 16 per cent of GDP in these areas. Mr Hockey said ‘We need to be ever vigilant. We need to compare ourselves with our Asian neighbours where the entitlements programs of the state are far less than in Australia’.
Mr Hockey may have been dropping a heavy hint on the direction the Coalition will take if they gain power at the next Federal Election when he said, “the age of unlimited and unfunded entitlement to government services and income support is over … We are now in an era where leaders are much more wary about credit risk.”
Today, Finance Minister Penny Wong replied to Mr Hockey’s comments and said “What he is saying in that speech is that we should cut into pensions but we shouldn’t cut into the private health insurance rebate … Things like Medicare and the age pension are a very important part of who we are”.
Is Australia truly the land of (too many) entitlements or is Joe Hockey totally misguided?