Hockey’s lie – one month’s work to pay for welfare: @e2mq173 comments

Errol Brandt

Errol Brandt

Citizen journalist at No Fibs
Errol writes No Fibs political column - From Left Field. He works as an Accountant within the manufacturing sector. He has a strong interest in sustainability and is a member of the ALP. His blog posts are an unusual mix of economic reality with social idealism.
Errol Brandt


Treasurer Joe Hockey made another impassioned speech last week to justify his government’s savage cuts to welfare and social services.

His key message was that the “average working Australian, be they a cleaner, a plumber or a teacher” in this country must work more than one month a year to pay for someone on welfare.  This, says Mr Hockey, is simply unfair.

This assertion has gone unchecked by the mainstream media. How did Mr Hockey come up with this figure of one month’s work for the average working Australian?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the full-time adult average weekly total earnings is $1498 per week. After tax and the Medicare levy, this leaves $1150 per week. On an annual basis this means that each person works 2.8 months across the year just to pay tax to the government.

At roughly $146 billion for 2014-2015, Australia’s welfare bill accounts for around 35% of total government revenue. However income taxes are only 69.6% of total government revenue.

By applying these adjustments to the 2.8 months of work, it is clear that the amount of work required for somebody on average weekly earnings to pay for the welfare component is only 0.68 months per year (3 weeks). Somebody earning more than $200,000 per year will work around 4 weeks per year to pay for social services.

Mr Hockey’s claim that the average working person is required to work one month per year just to pay for other’s welfare is simply wrong.


More than blatant inaccuracy, it is disgraceful that Mr Hockey would steer the national conversation in this way. When did it become acceptable in Australia to consider helping another person as burden – not an obligation, or indeed, even a privilege?

If anything, Mr Hockey’s example highlights the uneven burden of taxation in this country. Somebody earning $200,000 earns 2.5 times more than the average weekly income, but is only required to work 0.47 times more days to cover their welfare obligations.

The starting point for the conversation must be the minimum standard we will accept for our most vulnerable of citizens; not the amount of work that the highest income earners are prepared to share.

Mr Hockey’s language is a sign of the desperation that encircles his budget, as well as the poisonous individualist ‘tea party’ ideology that is taking root in Australian political culture under this government.

These values are not Australian values. Let us not think for a single moment that they are.


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  1. From your figures, it would seem that Mr. Hockey believes the ‘average’ worker makes $200,000 a year. Is Mr. Hockey attempting to drive the real average worker into going postal?

    Perhaps, a better question would be: “How much, percentage wise of the wealth those producing the wealth of this nation actually end up with in real wages?”

    After all, how much wealth would be produced in the month of July, if everyone working for wages went on a 31 day vacation next month?

  2. This is a great article and vividly shows the lies and mistruths the Abbott-Hockey team are driving. They are doing a similar thing with making and ensuring people accept neo-liberalism, and a in doing so are insisting people accept the State owes them nothing, when in fact the State demands so much from its citizens, the State should supply a duty-of-care. For more on this please feel free to read my article

  3. <

    Murdoch's media not only went along with the lie but they also promoted it as the gospel truth.

  4. Ok I agree with your figures, only one small thing, I’m an average wage earner and I earn just about half of that estimate at around $850 / week before tax. So Joe ( and I bite my tongue) is about right, however he is aiming his rhetoric at people who earn the same as me. So he’s hitting his target audience! They are good at that, it’s not a lie so much as good spin., dislike them with a passion

    • Hey Peter,

      I don’t mean to be rude or say you’re incorrect or anything but I thought maybe you could do with some more calculations relevant to your income. At 850/week before tax you earn around $44,000 per year, meaning you pay just over $6300 per year in tax/medicare. This means you work around 1.69 months per year to pay the government instead of the 2.8 listed above as the average due to you paying less tax in the lower income brackets. When you make the same alterations based on the government’s additional income and the amount that is spent on welfare, it means that you only spend 0.41 months of the year (under 2 weeks) working to support those on welfare. As your income falls below the average, you pay less for those on welfare.

      Again I don’t mean to be rude, your comment just stood out to me because we earn very similar incomes and I really don’t want you to have the wrong impression from lies like this one. The only people his statement could apply to are the very wealthy. Hope you have a great day :)

  5. This welfare bashing has got to stop.

    Joe Hockey thinks that because he is a ‘straight talking’ guy, that he can say outrageous things and they somehow shouldn’t be attacked. However, all it really shows is that Joe Hockey buried his conscience in a very very deep grave some time ago.

    JOE HOCKEY thinks Hong Kong has a valid welfare system Australia should emulate; he has just hugely impoverished the young, and helped to ensure their long term indentured slavery through facilitating a casualised, low paid workforce, through unemployment, lack of education and health services and huge university debts; and now he is pillorying those on welfare because income taxes are required to stop our poorest from starving, dying of disease and from homelessness. Damn those poor, sick and homeless. AND LETS NOT FORGET, our Parliamentarians got their Uni degrees for free.

    I once regarded Joe Hockey as a man who could be reasoned with, but instead he has shown himself to be a truly hateful man, – and he has the nerve to look you in the eye and say he has our interests at heart! Be very wary of men representing wealthy interests who believe they “know what is good for you”, and are happy to apply their brutal medicine, but which has no benefit for anyone other than the rich and their ‘election fundees’ (i.e. the Government they just bought).

    The actions of this government are approaching true treachery and the betrayal of the Australian people.