Abbott auditor renews attack on welfare and debt

Monday, 27 March 2017

Abbott auditor renews attack on welfare and debt
Picture: Renee Nowytarger

Original article by Tom Minear in the Herald Sun

WELFARE payments must be slashed and simplified and the nation’s debt needs to be paid back, according to the man who spearheaded a savage audit for former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Prominent businessman Tony Shepherd will today release a “statement of national challenges”, produced by the Menzies Research Centre, on why Australians are “struggling to get ahead”.

The report follows Mr Shepherd’s work on the ­Nat­ional Commission of Audit — released two weeks before Mr Abbott’s horror Budget in 2014 — which called for $70 billion in cuts to the pension, unemployment benefits and Medicare, while slashing spending and selling public assets.

Mr Shepherd’s report says the current level of government spending is “simply unaffordable”, particularly as the ageing population means fewer workers will have to support pensioners.

The report also criticises the welfare system, describing it as confusing and inefficient.

“The complexity of the system ... can lead to unintended situations where an individual is actually better off receiving an income through welfare than through fulltime employment,” it said.

Mr Shepherd’s report also renews pressure on the federal government to follow through on its signature $48.7 billion plan to cut business taxes.Australia’s corporate tax rate of 30 per cent was almost 7 per cent higher than the OECD average, the report said, and was “a significant drag” on the nation’s ability to attract foreign investment.

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