Where Now Australia's Welfare State?
Diritto Pubblico Comparato ed Europeo [Journal of Comparative and European Public Law], Vol. 2013, No. IV, pp. 1353-1370, 2014
31 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 26, 2014
This paper for a symposium on the welfare state, reviews Australia's welfare state model, with a particular focus on welfare (income support and social services) health (medical and pharmaceutical benefits and health services) and aged care. It argues that while Australian welfare offers a highly efficient system of universal coverage, it is notable for its comparatively austere levels of income support and for both its flexibility and its fidelity to shifting contemporary community values (most recently in embracing conditional welfare). Flexibility is posited as both boon and bane: providing for responsive experimentation and attuning to contemporary community needs; but leaving the system open to too much ‘middle class’ welfare and neglect of the truly needy (such as unemployment payment rates too low for the needs of the long-term unemployed). The paper concludes by reviewing recent and anticipated proposals for structural devolution of certain services or functions of the national government to the constituent states and territories of the Australian federation.
Keywords: welfare state models, income security, universal health scheme, aged care, federalism
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation