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Joe Hockey was having a 'Mitt Romney moment', says Bill Shorten

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'I'll tell you what's unfair Joe Hockey'

In a speech to ACOSS, Opposition leader Bill Shorten slams the Treasurer over 'unfairness' in the budget. Nine News.

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused Treasurer Joe Hockey of having a ''Mitt Romney moment'' after the Treasurer said half of all households received welfare from the government and that we ought to be rewarding ''lifters'' and not ''leaners''.

Welfare sector leaders have also reacted angrily to suggestions by Mr Hockey that critics of his budget are engaging in ''class warfare''.

Mitt Romney: multi-millionaire presidential candidate who ran against Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney: multi-millionaire presidential candidate who ran against Barack Obama. Photo: Reuters

Mr Hockey delivered a speech in defence of his budget on Wednesday night, telling the right-leaning Sydney Institute that views that his first budget would exacerbate inequality were ''largely misguided.''

He said Australia's welfare system was unsustainable, with the government expecting to spend 35 per cent of the federal budget on welfare next financial year, and with the average taxpayer being asked to spend more than $12,000 to fund the system.

''At the moment over half of Australian households receive a taxpayer-funded payment from the government,'' Mr Hockey said.

'Out of touch': Joe Hockey.

'Out of touch': Joe Hockey. Photo: Andrew Meares

''The average working Australian, be they cleaner, a plumber or a teacher, is working over one month full-time each year just to pay for the welfare of another Australian.

''Is this fair?''

Mr Shorten criticised the Treasurer's framing of the question on Thursday, saying the comments showed he was ''out of touch''.

''Joe Hockey had a Mitt Romney moment in Australian politics where he says that half of the Australians who are receiving payments from the government, support from the government, he very clearly accused them of being the leaners, not the lifters,'' Mr Shorten said.

Mitt Romney was the multi-millionaire US presidential candidate who, when running against president Barack Obama in 2012, was secretly taped telling a roomful of wealthy donors that half of the American population was dependent on government and believed they were ''entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.''

The head of the Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie, said she ''absolutely rejects'' the Treasurer's suggestion that people talking about fairness, with regards to the budget, were engaging in class warfare.

''[The budget] targets people on low incomes and delivers only a light touch to those with significant wealth. It's in everybody's interest for us not to increase the class divide,'' she said.

Vice-president of the Doctors Reform Society Dr Tracy Schrader said: ''If it is a class war, Hockey fired the first shot. The cuts to public hospitals and the introduction of co-payments will eventually lead to a two-tier system.''

Economist Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said although the budget would see the burden of its cuts fall on the less well-off, the longer-term budget strategy was more important.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article said Mitt Romney was a billionaire.

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337 comments

  • Joe's a leaner, sits with a cigar in his mouth after creating a dudget.

    Commenter
    Tin
    Date and time
    June 13, 2014, 7:22AM
    • It's easy to criticise someone when they discuss welfare but the question should be is he right?

      At 35% of the budget and growing is the current welfare system sustainable?

      When a couple with a couple of kids and earning $1200 a week get more back in government benefits than their combined tax bill isn't it time we had some discussion on where we are heading?

      Commenter
      Sherlock
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:15AM
    • Sherlock, of course Hockey is right and so was Romney.

      Commenter
      Lewis
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:22AM
    • Australia is a country, NOT a business.
      This government is not good.

      Commenter
      Mali
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:24AM
    • @sherlock,

      35% sounds like a lot but where is the rest being spent? Billions of dollars on dud airplanes which are over due and already out of date and people are complaining about people needing help.

      Liberals complain about helping our own first, then complain that they are getting too much.

      Commenter
      fml
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:24AM
    • Yes, this from the Treasurer about to introduce the big welfare plan - the PPL.

      As stated below I thought he was having an Abbott moment. Where you think up something then keep repeating it hoping it will eventually be see as true.

      Maybe he meant Abbott and his alleged expense rorting or his own salary when he was referring to leaners.

      Commenter
      Unbelievable
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:25AM
    • swear to god...if Hockey and Abbott had've come out with all this 'stuff' in the budget before the election.....they would not have been elected.........thta's the lie and deception .....they must be punished for this and sent to the sin bin forever......

      Commenter
      JT
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:25AM
    • If you are receiving benefits, you're a leaner pur and simple. It's the long term leaners that are the problem, however. To rely on benefits as a backstop for a while in hard times is one thing, but it's the ones who use it to prop-up their lifestyle choices such as long term unemployment or having children is another.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:32AM
    • He really has tripped himself this time up has sloppy joe.
      If I were a pensioner who had paid taxes all my life and was copping
      the bombast that this windbag has been heaping on pensioners,for starters,
      I would not be a happy camper.
      Pensioners, like most others that receive what hockey and his sophists call welfare, have earned it and the country actually benefits by them getting it.
      The young, the old, the infirm, the unlucky, the retrenched, the off shored, the older job seekers, the redundant all must be revulsed at the sight of hockey and his conman henchman these days.
      Anyone for another plate of lap band busting, neo liberal , voodoo. class warfare ideology?
      joe says sorry that it wasn't on the menu last year but it is now.

      Commenter
      nkelly
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:37AM
    • Moment? no, he lives a Romney moment all day! He is a joke and I can comfortably predict, he will never recieve a best treasurer award ever!!

      Commenter
      Hiphop
      Date and time
      June 13, 2014, 8:41AM

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