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Hockey blasts attitude of 'entitlement'

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey condemns systems of 'universal entitlement' in Western democracies.

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SHADOW treasurer Joe Hockey has condemned systems of ''universal entitlement'' in Western democracies, contrasting this attitude with the concept of ''filial piety'' thriving across Asia where people get what they work for and families look after their own.

Speaking in London, Mr Hockey said that by Western standards the highly constrained public safety net in Hong Kong and other Asian places might seem brutal ''but it works and it is financially sustainable''.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Penny Bradfield

''Contrast this with what we find in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States. All of them have enormous entitlement systems spanning education, health, income support, retirement benefits, unemployment benefits.''

Government revenues fell far short of meeting the cost and the difference had to be made up by borrowing.

While he was less critical of Australia, saying that over the years there had been some key decisions to reduce spending, Mr Hockey said it still had ''a lot of spending by government which many voters see as their entitlement''.

Pressed on the ABC’s Lateline about whether the Coalition would look at the whole range of entitlements, Mr Hockey said: "Yes.’"

Australia needed to be "ever vigilant" and to compare itself with its neighbours. Australia had moved a long way but this "doesn’t mean we shouldn’t move further’".

In his speech, he said countries with a lower level of entitlement were free to allow business and individuals to be successful. "It reduces taxation, meaning individuals spend less of their time working for the state, and more of their time working for themselves and their family."

Both sides of the Western political spectrum were to blame for the entitlement mentality. "Perhaps the  real problem is the exuberant excesses of politicians."

But now, he said, "the age of unlimited and unfunded entitlement to government services and income support is over ... We are now in an era where leaders are much more wary about credit risk."

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