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Hockey criticises ‘generous’ welfare payments

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Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey has criticised generous welfare payments in Western nations and urged means testing.

In a speech in London, Hockey said “the age of entitlement” was over.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott said the Coalition had no plans to abolish any welfare programs. Business groups have called for an increase in the dole payment this year.

Outgoing Australian Industry Group chief and new Reserve Bank of Australia board member Heather Ridout joined a list of business leaders backing a rise in the dole.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard tried to link Hockey’s comments to future Coalition policy under an Abbott government.

But Abbott said Hockey was simply stating that governments had to “live within their means”.

“What Joe said in London was the bleeding obvious,” Abbott told the Nine Network.

Asked if the Coalition was planning to axe or cut back any welfare programs, Abbott said: “We’re not planning to do any of that.”

“What we want to cut back is wasteful and unnecessary government programs,” he said.

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