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Laborís version of equality is punish talent

By Gary Johns - posted Monday, 7 August 2017


This scenario was the subject of a thoughtful speech last week by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, in which he remarked that “the formula that worked in the past of continual increases in welfare and further services will not provide the step-change improvement needed to address modern impoverishment”.

Modern impoverishment, as he calls it, is attributed to “family breakdown, worklessness, drug and alcohol addictions, education failure, and indebtedness and lack of financial capability”.

If the rich man did not cause the single mother’s plight, who did? Best not go there … it gets very personal and very judgmental. Better to think about what to do to prevent her plight.

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Poverty is intergenerational. It runs in families, and relatively few at that. Indeed, the minister has to tell the full story about the families who collectively cost the taxpayer dearly. They require serious and prolonged intervention.

We can intervene to help, we should intervene to help, but at the right time and in the right way. And for goodness’ sake, let’s not be squeamish. The taxpayer is not responsible for bad choices and bad behaviour. The taxpayer is entitled to say so.

To intervene or not to intervene is not the great schism between left and right any more — both sides are at it. The purpose and effectiveness of the intervention is what counts. Labor’s inequality gambit blames the rich: it makes no pretence of understanding the cause of poverty. And Liberals have lost their ability to inspire the aspiring classes.

The young and gifted become the rich of tomorrow. Praise them, don’t tax them more, and don’t blame them for others’ misfortune. I want to witness more great speeches.

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This article was first published in The Australian.



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About the Author

Gary Johns is a fellow of the Australian Institute for Progress and an adjunct professor at QUT.

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