Tony Abbott on welfare traps

Given I know relatively little about Tony Abbott, my thinking about him has been shaped largely by his less than temperate right wing rhetoric, as featured gleefully as a sort of insider joke about ‘palaeo’ conservatives in the nation’s news media from time to time.

Imagine my surprise when he made some eminently sensible comments on the futility of punishing welfare recipients who also work a few hours (a speech Abbott gave to the Young Liberals Annual Conference on 11 January in Adelaide).

He points out that tax and reduced welfare payments for people who work only a few hours produce effective tax rates of almost 70 per cent. He acknowledges that this situation encourages people to conclude that they would be better off not working at all. This is a simple truism that appears to have escaped welfare policy-makers for some time.

Moreover, the welfare system has been fashioned into a monstrous bureaucracy that appears to be concerned with dehumanising its clientele, rather than helping them to find work. This is an issue on which Tony Abbott is remarkably silent. It may be that a deliberate policy has been implemented to make dealing with welfare agencies so unpleasant that its clients will seek any means to avoid such contact. If that is the case, it does not appear to be working, and may actually be counterproductive in that it further strips away self-respect, confidence and motivation.

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Politics: 2013 Contents

Rudd will lose election

17 August 2013: Failure to lead, offer alternative.

Sartorial case notes

9 July 2013: Newman’s clown wardrobe says it all.

Beware Calvinist barbarians

6 May 2013: Abetz’s dark, recidivist vision.

Judging Thatcher’s legacy

14 April 2013: Mercy for the dead, unholy remains for the living.

Howard’s Iraq apostasy

11 April 2013: Historical revisionism from the would-be cricket captain.

The Murdoch doctrine: hail the ruinous orthodoxy

8 April 2013: A merciless, immoral vision for ‘free markets’.

In god we trust …

17 March 2013: Has Western politics destroyed the rule of law?

Abbott missing in (in)action

6 March 2013: What exactly does the Prime Minister presumptive stand for?

Summers should get head out of arse on misogyny

3 March 2013: The PM is not being victimised because he’s a woman.

Xenophon affair shows failure of foreign policy

21 February 2013: Time to stop playing at UN bigshot and plug holes closer to home.

Open Letter to Jack Waterford

4 February 2013: Canberra Times editor’s callousness reflects his city’s inhumanity.

Bien pensantism: pretentious political ignorance

2 February 2013: Ignorance is what it is no matter how well-meant.

Election 2013 Notebook: February

2 February 2013: Canberra shenannigans.

Spurious math: 480,000 bribes elect next Federal Government

31 January 2013: Speculating about Queensland marginal electorates.

Swan’s Australia Day message for generations gone by

28 January 2013: Treasurer’s reactionary imperial cricket fantasy.

Election 2013 Notebook: January

27 January 2013: Canberra shenannigans.

Katters never change their spots

26 January 2013: Bob Katter and party won’t go away anytime soon.

Gillard can’t really lose on Peris

22 January 2013: PM’s interference in pre-selection not a blunder.

Roxon’s rocks in the head on discrimination

16 January 2013: Attorney General’s Bill is unconscionable.

Roxon’s politically correct witch-hunting season

10 January 2013: The Scarlet Letter turned into a Bill.