The nanny state becomes a welfare paradise


There was a time some decades ago when the United Kingdom adopted an ideal of the welfare state in which people were looked after by government from the cradle to the grave.  It was a halcyon notion that lasted as long as it took to figure out that it would bankrupt the nation. Mind you, that did take quite a while as the Poms seem to be slow learners – or they just like a free meal ticket.

Australians like to think we are much more independent than that. This is, after all, the home of the romanticised notion of the rugged individualist. Yeah, right!

New statistics show we are a nation of bloody rorters. This is not a good thing when the term ‘bludger’ (someone who sponges on others, including government) is one of our harshest words of criticism.

For a nation of just 22 million, we now have nearly one million of us on disability pensions. This is a growth rate of 280% over three decades and, as one of our major welfare agencies points out there is no evidence of any similar rise in disabilities over the same period. Bottom line, two out of three of those on a disability pension is likely to be a bludger.

And this is not a situation which should be ignored given that welfare costs each year are $130 billion. The harsh reality of this is that one-third of government expenditure every year goes on welfare!

Supposedly, one-third of those receiving a disability pension have psychological or psychiatric conditions. Yet, the welfare agency points out that 85% of people even with serious mental health issues can return to work with the right help.

In an extraordinary revelation, we are told that it has been 13 years since the last major review of our welfare system. Even though we spend one in every three tax dollars on it! It’s outrageous.

Perhaps a cornerstone of the problem is that we watch, year after year, as our politicians line their pockets with streams of gold. Maybe our subconscious has said: hey, if those guys can get away with that, we should, too.  Except we know only too well that two wrongs don’t make a right and that we just can’t bloody afford to keep shelling out for those who ought to be productive members of our society and not bludgers.


Acknowledgement: Toby Hall, Mission Australia