In times of budgetary constraint, the cost of Australia’s welfare system has been regarded by many in the Coalition as a burden and a drag on economic growth. The shadow minister for social services and families, Jenny Macklin, has a different take.
“Sadly I think the Liberal-National Coalition have an ideological view that the welfare system is too generous – even though the international evidence is completely to the contrary … our social security system is one of the most tightly targeted in the world,” she says.
For Labor, the message is that cuts to welfare and social services increases inequality – damaging the wider economy.
“You’ve got the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, other very big international players telling us that increasing inequality is a constraint on growth. So what Labor is saying is that we want to … use all the different levers available to us to reduce inequality through the tax changes on negative gearing for example, through improved social investments, such as our schools policy.
"These are all very practical policies that Labor has to reduce inequality, to make sure that we see that reduction in inequality delivering in improved economic growth.”
Music credit: “Dryness”, by Ketsa on the Free Music Archive.
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra