Joe Hockey Reckons We Should Pay More For Healthcare Because Everyone’s Going To Live To 150, Maybe

From the Chris Traeger School of Economics.

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Parks and Recreation-style farces bleed into Australian political life slightly more often than is probably ideal, even if sometimes that’s a good thing. The architect of the latest so-ridiculous-it-must-be-true moment comes from Treasurer Joe Hockey, who tried to justify the government’s ongoing attempts to make people pay more for healthcare on 3AW this morning by letting off some random thought bubbles about how kids born today might live to 150.

Regardless of your opinion of Hockey’s politics, an honorary economics degree from the prestigious Chris Traeger School of Economics is nothing to sneeze at.

Hockey was probably attempting to make a point about how more people living longer might mean that the taxpayers of the future will fork out unsustainable amounts to pay for the nation’s ageing millions, and we therefore need to put more of the weight on individuals to pay for their own upkeep. It’s a common refrain from conservative politicians trying to paint Australia’s welfare provisions as “unsustainable”, despite the fact that Australia spends far less on welfare than most European nations. According to the good robots over at ABC FactCheck, we only spent 3.5 per cent of our GDP on the aged pension in 2012 (compared to 6 percent for the UK, 14 percent for France and 15 percent for Italy), and we won’t be spending much more than that in 2050. Basically, the oft-repeated, less oft-checked claim that we’ll end up drowning in Boomer skin unless we charge people for healthcare is less memorable than “everyone’s going to live to 150”, but equally as ridiculous in its own sweet way.

In more meaningless nonsense thinly masquerading as political news, Julie Bishop lost an earring in Martin Place and tweeted about it this morning, prompting nationwide coverage from the nation’s largest news sites and a thousand Girl with Pearl Earring/Cinderella/vaguely sexist Barbie puns. Coverage from both Fairfax and News Corp on EarringGate has been front-and-centre, prompting hopes the massive ongoing hunger strike on Manus Island with the growing prospect of imminent violence will simply go away if none of us think about it very much.