Australian Budget 2017: foreign citizens get $15bn in welfare

Australian Budget 2017: foreign citizens get $15bn in welfare, by Adam Creighton.

About 870,000 non-citizens, mostly from Britain, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East, are claiming $15 billion a year in welfare­ benefits, according to new analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office, raising questions about the generosity of Australia’s social security system.

$15bn is about $700 per man, woman, and child in Australia.

The analysis, requested by Libera­l Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm, estimated that 710,000 non-citizens from nations with which Australia has no social security arrangement, includ­ing Britain, Vietnam and China, claimed an average $17,500 each annually in welfare, totalling 83 per cent of the $15bn total. …

John Wanna, a professor of public policy at Australian National University, said Australia was one of the most generous countries in the OECD for payments to non-citizens. “We’re one of the few in the OECD where somebody who doesn’t work can go straight on to benefits,” he said, noting that in Europe access to social insur­ance was often predicated on prior ­contributions.

British citizens made up the largest share of the total, at 170,000, followed by Africa and the Middle East (90,000) and China (50,000). “Before 1949 everyone here was simply a British subject,” said Professor Wanna. New Zealanders who arrived before­ 2001 are eligible for welfare.

hat-tip Joanne