Feb 25, 2014

Hockey’s spending challenge: stop it getting worse first

Joe Hockey's task in reining in spending on health, education and welfare is first to prevent the Coalition's policies from making it worse.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s welcome call for a debate on healthcare and the aged pension last week raises the possibility of some real reform in our biggest areas of government expenditure, if this government has the stomach for genuinely controversial expenditure cuts.

The only problem is, the story Hockey offers of Australia “running out of money” to pay for runaway health, welfare and education costs is more complicated than he suggested:

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18 thoughts on “Hockey’s spending challenge: stop it getting worse first

  1. klewso

    So there’s a skeleton of truth in Shockey’s rhetorical hysteria?

  2. Dez Paul

    Ah, Bernard, you’ve done it again. The main problem with health spending is politicians themselves. Nothing like a bit of political expediency to make costs blow out.

    The other thing Hockey could do is actually implement some revenue raising social reforms, like taxing fatty, salty and sugary foods – and apply the tax on company profits, not individual consumers. Wanna reduce health spending? Try getting people to be healthier.

    I suspect this would require a lot of imagination and political risk, not to mention being driven by someone with the patience and capacity for hard policy lifting. Someone like, err, Julia Gillard for instance.

    This gummint ain’t up to it.

  3. JamesH

    For a further bit of context, how “massive” would these “massive” tax increases actually have to be? Would they have to go back to the level they were at under the later Howard Government? or even the level of the earlier Howard Government?

  4. AR

    Nobody can accuse Sloppy, even in his new semi-starved form, of being a Strawman but he sure does clutch at them.
    Health expenditure is open ended and the best way to ensure good value is to invest in preventative care, the major health cost for most individuals occurs in the last months of life and the outcome is rarely immortality.

  5. Dez Paul

    Indeed, AR. We have the medical technology and dubious moral imperative to make sure everyone hangs on for grim death, to the last assisted breath.

  6. Jimmyhaz

    Tax doesn’t fund the government, it would be fantastic if otherwise educated people would stop pushing this ridiculous line.

    Taxes don’t enable the government to create and spend Australian dollars, which is why Hockey’s push for surplus makes no sense in the first place.

  7. Brian Williams

    One would hope that Big Joes first assault on the Coalitions own expenditure would be to put a knife into Abbotts ludicrous paid parental leave program. If he can’t get rid of that (or have it ‘delayed’ in politicospeak terms), then he’s not even trying.

  8. klewso

    The Age of Entitlement has different time zones.

  9. graybul

    Taking Bernard’s analysis at face value, it beggers belief that Labor completely failed to communicate ‘their’ education and health accomplishments in reining in costs . . to the Electorate. Oh, oh . . . Sorry Mr Murdoch!

  10. Kevin Herbert

    JimmyHaz: so what does fund the Federal Government?

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