So, the Prime Minister and Opposition leader are in a welfare-off, happily playing all the tabloid media’s greatest “dole bludger” hits, including:

  • “there are people who can work who do not”
  • (quoting Curtin) “Men are fighting for Australia today. Those who are not fighting have no excuse for not working.”
  • “everyone who can work should work”
  • “every Australian should pull his or her own weight”
  • “not fair for taxpayers to pay for someone who can support themselves”
  • “People whose problems keep them out of work… will be better off with work.”

And that’s from the non-conservative leader. From Abbott:

  • “governments have to be firm to be fair”
  • “the kindness that kills”
  • “people who might be “working the system”.”
  • “suspend unemployment benefits for people under 30 in areas where there are shortages of unskilled labour”
  • “we do need to be tougher”
  • “we need to have higher expectations of young people in particular”

Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff. Makes me feel all justified about my bitter resentment regarding helping anyone worse off than me.

Since Gillard’s speech was only last night, we’re a day ahead of the pundit cycle here – the scribblers will undoubtedly right now be furiously typing their agreement with whichever mob is most determined to make life harder for those already struggling in poverty. Criticism will be limited to who came up with the nastiest proposals first. The headlines are already clearly what she was aiming for: “Prime Minister Julia Gillard says budget will be tough on welfare cheats”, “PM declares war on the idle”, “Time is up for welfare cheats, says Gillard”, “PM takes aim at welfare”. And you can bet the tabloid commentariat is paying careful attention to where the wind is blowing, in the Herald Sun comment threads. (“THIEVES!” “cheats”!)”

Still, it’s a fine trollday effort from the PM – although you’d think she might want to pick trollday topics that don’t directly play into the hands of the Opposition.

PS Oddly enough, I haven’t seen anyone pick Gillard up for this hilarious clanger about Gerard Henderson and Nancy: “Friends, for decades the Sydney Institute has offered a forum for reason and reflection in our national debate.” Oh, Julia, whoever said you didn’t have a sense of humour?