Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey is still railing against the welfare state. Addressing the Institute of Public Affairs yesterday, he stated:

“Addressing the ongoing fiscal crises will involve the winding back of universal access to payments and entitlements from the state. This will require the redefining of the concept of mutual obligation and the reinvigoration of a culture of self reliance.”

Hockey also supports the Coalition’s wildly generous paid parental leave scheme. The irony, surely, isn’t lost on him.

Parental leave, of course, is an entitlement worth supporting. But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has everyone from business leaders to his own caucus telling him the Coalition scheme is unsustainable.

For the opposition it’s a no-win situation: rather than embrace it, polls show women actually prefer Labor’s plan. Whatever gains Abbott has made on the female vote, it hasn’t come about through his parental leave scheme.

Instead, it’s a test of his leadership. He can stand firm in the party room — and give his treasurer splitting headaches when it comes to enacting it — or he can concede defeat, lose nothing electorally and fight more important internal battles. Industrial relations springs to mind …

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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