Australia's Welfare Wars: The Players, the Politics and the by Philip Mendes

By Philip Mendes

Considers the jobs performed through the major political events, foyer teams and ideologies in picking out Australia’s present welfare-related results.

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Extra info for Australia's Welfare Wars: The Players, the Politics and the Ideologies

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28 • AUSTRALIA’S WELFARE WARS In response, Esping-Andersen argues that the liberalisation of the Australian economy over the last two decades has eroded the ‘social democratic’ features of the Australian welfare state. In particular, the large increases in unemployment and sole-parent families accompanied by greater wage inequality have undermined the traditional emphasis on egalitarian outcomes (Esping-Andersen, 1999: 89–90). There is no doubt that the Australian model now faces far greater fiscal and political challenges than in the past.

These measures have included the introduction of a work for the dole scheme which emphasises the elimination of the individual ‘flaws’ of jobseekers rather than measures to address the absence of sufficient jobs; constant crackdowns on alleged welfare fraud including the introduction of a ‘dob in a dole bludger’ hotline; and massive penalties for breaches of welfare requirements. Similar assumptions underlie the 2000 welfare reform review T H E D E V E L O P M E N T O F T H E A U S T R A L I A N W E L F A R E S TAT E • 27 which recommended that principles of mutual obligation be extended to unemployed people aged 35–64 years and recipients of parenting payment whose youngest child was aged six years or above.

Think-tanks have arguably been able to not only shape the policies of individual governments, but have also succeeded in moving the whole policy debate to the right. According to Beder (1997), the free-market ideas promoted by the think-tanks have become hegemonic not only amongst conservative parties, but even within traditionally social democratic groupings. They have become publicly accepted as self-evident truths against which there is no other alternative. The Australian neoliberal think-tanks have considerable resources at their disposal.

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