TREASURER Joe Hockey has warned that the age of entitlement is over and it was time for all Australians to do their fair share of heavy lifting.
Making clear taxpayer hand-outs are now under tough restrictions, Mr Hockey told ABC Radio that the age of personal responsibility has begun.
And he appeared cool towards a proposal that Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce is expected to take to cabinet for a multi-billion bailout of meat and agricultural industries.
Mr Hockey couldn’t commit to a plan he hadn’t seen but said the rural industries, now stressed by severe drought, also had good times and had to prepare for the swings and roundabouts.
Australians were also told to better manage their personal finances at a time when interest rates are at unusual lows.
“So if people are having problems coping with interest rates now then there is a bigger systemic issues at play,” Mr Hockey said.
His comments were among the strongest indications yet made by Mr Hockey in government that the May Budget will be tough on spending in all sectors with little mercy for corporations seeking assistance.
The government is facing continued demands to assist Holden in South Australia and fruit canner SPC Ardmona in Victoria.
But it is standing firm that companies have to sort out their own problems out, particularly on the shop floor.
Mr Hockey said if companies reach expensive deals with workers, “please do not come to the government asking for other taxpayers’ money when those agreements fail”.
That will be seen as a message to Toyota, the only remaining car maker not to have closure plans.
“I say to you emphatically, everyone in Australia must do the heavy lifting. The age of entitlement is over, the age of personal responsibility has begun,” he said.
“We need to help those people who are most vulnerable in our community. That is our duty and we will do that.
“But we can only do that on a sustainable basis. It can only be done if everyone who has the capacity to lift does indeed lift.”
Welfare groups are urging the Government to limit major cuts to so-called middle class welfare and well-off wage earners.
Mr Hockey’s warning comes as charity group Anglicare said it feared the Budget would leave behind “the most marginalised members of Australian society”.
“Any expenditure cuts ought be directed at the sectors of society which are highly profitable, where people are comfortably well-off, and where government is funding what people can reasonably expect to do for themselves,” Anglicare chief executive Kasy Chambers said.