I appeared on a panel about a month ago at the Progressive Australia conference in Sydney, organised by the Chifley Research Centre. Although this wasn’t a stand-alone presentation (I was speaking in response to a keynote speech by Patrick Diamond), I thought my slides might be of interest.
Peter Martin has an interesting piece regarding the Commission of Audit in today’s Fairfax papers. He looks back at the 1996 Commission of Audit to draw some lessons for the current Commission. He notes that the 1996 Commission recommended scaling back tax expenditures to businesses and high-income households, reducing politicians’ entitlements, and changing the model of school funding.
When the Hawke Government came to power in March 1983, the unemployment benefit for a single adult was worth $192 in today’s dollars. By the time Labor left office in 1996, it had lifted the real (inflation-adjusted) benefit, renamed Newstart Allowance, to $245 a week. Over the course of those 13 years in office, the Hawke and Keating Governments raised the real value of the unemployment benefit by $53 per week, a 27.4% rise. Contrary to the recollections of some, increases in unemployment benefits were part of the “Keating model”.
Since Keating left office, the unemployed haven’t fared as well. It’s worth $252.70 a week now, including the Clean Energy Supplement, a $7.70 or 3.2% increase over 17 years.
My last post consisted of the sort of Sisyphean snark about The Australian that I’d like to cut back on, but can’t resist writing. I was a little taken aback that the same paper that labelled a modest trim to family payments for high-income households as ‘class warfare’ would unashamedly lament that “the old principle that welfare should exist only for those who genuinely need it appears no longer to hold.”