'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.
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''.

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.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney: billionaire presidential candidate who ran against Barack Obama. Photo: Reuters

''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

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

''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 billionaire 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

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.