I have an opinion piece in the Guardian Australia, in which I defend the Australian welfare state against its conservative critics. Please read it!
Couple of comments.
1. In terms of “welfare transfers”, Hawke and Howe prided themselves of establishing a welfare system tightly targeted to need. Tight targeting served not merely budgetary control, but ensured adequacy of benefits to those who needed them.
2. The really “welfare” dollars run in tax expenditures/concessions, particularly super, trusts, negative gearing in property investment, trusts and other tax rorts for individuals. These areas of “real welfare benefits” do need tough reform, if only to establish some basic standards of equity among Australians. The ACTU has an alliance with ACOSS to clean up these middle and UPPER class rorts in relation to superannuation; I think your article misses the mark here. It supports the croc spouted by Crean and Ferguson.
1) Yes. I’m not sure what your point is. My argument wasn’t a call to end means testing.
2) Did you read my piece? I said the following:
“Where we do have “middle-class welfare” is in the tax breaks that mostly benefit the rich.”
I am aware that the ACTU has worked with ACOSS on these issues. I work at the ACTU.
Here are two things I’ve written in the past about reducing regressive tax expenditures: https://mattcowgill.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/on-tax-expenditures/ and https://mattcowgill.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/why-have-a-flat-tax-on-super/
Fair enough. Its seems like I got the bull by the tail (or whatever the right expression is) in discerning what you were saying in the Guardian article. I fully subscribe to the opinions you have expressed in the two articles you have cited.
I was appalled by Crean and Ferguson’s effort in the recent discussion. “Class war” in super?- of course there is and the aforementioned politicians are doing very nicely in that war, thank you. They need to get out more and talk to couriers and checkout chicks. (As for the Coalition’s position on super, polite words escape me).
So it appears we are sort of on the same tram, Mat.
In relation to the “Coalition’s position” on super, I am of course referring to its stated intention of removing the rebate on the 15% penalty- (forget about a concession)-the lowest income earners pay to get their few dollars into super. It’s a reversion to the use of the stocks- just to torment the poor. And the reformists in this whole super rorts are accused of “class war”.!!!!!! (And even by ALP Parliamentarians and ex-ACTU officials???)
Agree with Mikie. My definition of middle-class welfare is broader than the one that Matt’s article implies.
I would probably include the solar feed-in subsidy – those who can’t afford solar panels are effectively subsidising those who can through higher electricity prices, lower income earning households paying for better-off households to have cut-price electricity.
It’s a bit like the Sherrif of Nottingham busting open the poor box in the church to give the money to rich Prince John.
Sure, if you broaden the definition of welfare beyond just cash transfers to include things like in-kind benefits and tax expenditures, then we have more going to middle- and upper-class households. I noted that in my piece. But most of the rhetoric about the ‘age of entitlement’ etc. seems to be directed towards cash transfers, which is why I addressed that in this piece.
That said, it isn’t the appropriate time to simply cut the money spent on such things. By all means withdraw money spent on people who simply don’t need it but be sure to re-deploy the spending back into areas where it can do some good.
I think Australia’s welfare system for most is less progressive than it seems.
We are the only country that I know of to have a means tested non-contribution based aged pension. If you look at benefits for those under retirement age, I think we would be about as progressive as New Zealand or the UK. Still more progressive than most, but not as much of an outlier as the data suggests.
I don’t want to go on about this welfare/super debate Matt.
But it seems you are conceding huge advantage by accepting the discourse of others in relation to transfers and tax concessions.
Tax concessions are the welfare transfers of preference for the high income earner and the wealthy. They buy ithe same size sack of potatoes and the same number of litres of milk.
Call their social construction of reality for what it is.
Thanks for a neat summary of the issues at stake under a possible Abbott- Hockey government. I have referred this to Asbjørn Wahl who is the author of a very good and more detailed analysis of the war on welfare focused mainly on Europe, “The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State”.
naturallly again you are part of the highlights of the week!
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