AUDIO Q&A: politics takes over as survey reveals welfare, work trends

Shadow Minister for Families & Payments, Jenny Macklin, says the HILDA survey contradicts Joe Hockey’s claims that Australia’s welfare spending is out of control. Alan Porritt/AAP

The latest instalment of the long running Housing, Income and Labour Dynamics Survey from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research was released today, with many commentators using it to support the case for or against the federal government’s current stance on welfare reform.

Shadow Minister for Families and Payments Jenny Macklin said the survey, which includes 17,000 Australians, exposed Joe Hockey’s “welfare crisis” as “a complete fabrication”.

“We already know that Australia has one of the most targeted welfare systems across the OECD. Welfare expenditure in Australia accounted for just 8.6% of GDP in 2013, compared to the OECD average of 13%,” Macklin said.

Treasurer Joe Hockey played down the survey findings, with a spokesperson telling AAP the economy had changed since 2011, the year the latest survey data related to.

The spokesperson said the mining boom was disappearing, with a growing reliance on welfare expected in the next decade.

We spoke to Melbourne Institute principal research Fellow Roger Wilkins to discuss the politicisation of the survey, and what it really tells us about welfare and work.


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