News National Hockey: ‘Nothing is free’

Hockey: ‘Nothing is free’

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Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has primed Australians to prepare themselves for a new era where government will pull back from providing services including bulk billing for doctor’s visits.

Hockey delivered a speech ahead of next week’s release of the commission of audit’s eighty-six recommendations for reining in government expenditure.

These recommendations include services that were previously free requiring a co-payment or be means-tested. Outsourcing to the private sector is also on the cards.

“It will do for people what they cannot do for themselves, but no more,” Joe Hockey said in a speech last night in Sydney, highlighting the need for spending cuts.

“Nothing is free. Someone always pays.”

The government is looking at making savings on the aged pension – currently costing $40 billion a year.

An aging population means pension costs will rise to a hefty $72 billion within 10 years, dwarfing expenditure on defence, schools and hospitals, the Government’s Commission of Audit has warned.

According to reports in News Limited, Medicare costs will also almost double within the decade to $38 billion a year and the cost of the roll out of Labor’s National Disability Insurance Scheme is forecast to grow by 50 per cent by 2024 to $11 billion a year.

Defence is still the government’s biggest area of expenditure.

Speaking to a function in Sydney last night, Hockey said: “The [Commission of Audit] Report makes it clear that Australia has a serious spending problem.”

“Spending on the age pension already takes up 10 per cent of all Commonwealth spending. And demand for the age pension will continue to increase as the population ages.”