Labour History

Dole Bludgers, Tax Payers and the New Right: Constructing Discourses of Welfare in 1970s Australia

Labour History (2009), 96, (1), 177–190.


The international shift to New Right economics in the early 1970s, led by America, was the driving force for the invention of the dole bludger in Australia. The construction of the ‘dole bludger’ as the financial burden of the ‘taxpayer’ was a vital part of a broader effort to construct neo-liberal parameters for economic debate in Australia. This new discursive frame displaced the old deserving and undeserving poor discourses that existed during the decades of full employment leading up to the 1974 stagflation. This article argues that dole-bludger discourse should be included within a broader understanding of Australia’s shift to neo-liberalism. It focuses specifically on the role that economic think tanks played in bringing these ideas to Australia and the role that political figures played in popularising New Right welfare frames for an Australian audience.

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Author details

Archer, Verity

Table of Contents

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