Even under Hawke in the 1980s, celebrated increases in the ‘social wage’ came in the form of tax cuts; and so necessarily led to a smaller pool of funds for welfare and services. A veritable ‘double-edged sword’.
Finally, during the Howard years a number of programs sprung up that were lambasted as ‘middle class welfare’. Included, here, were Family Tax Benefits ‘A’ and ‘B’ – introduced to assist in the costs of child-rearing- and provided even to those on high incomes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_benefit
There has been impoverishment of pensioners – and especially the unemployed. (again I reiterate: despite stringent and indeed punitive active labour market policies)
And there has been vilification of trade unions and stigmatisation/criminalisation of industrial action even where only used as a last resort. This has resulted in a greatly reduced capacity for workers to fight back in the face of these changes.
That said, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has recently announced that families on incomes above $150,000/year will miss out on carbon tax compensation. That’s roughly 10% of Australian families. (‘The Age’
Unfortunately – as far as redistribution via overcompensation goes, the kind of strategy it seems Gillard is suggesting would provide a far shallower pool of funds to work with than would be the case were the top 20% incomes demographic excluded.
But in an Abbott ‘tax reform’ package, you can be certain that it is those on low incomes – including some very hard working people – who would miss out in outright terms compared with upper-middle class and wealthy taxpayers.
Too many people have been disadvantaged and suffered injustice in recent decades. And it is a process which always accelerates under Conservative governments.