Is the Abbott government turning Australia into America? Judging by the letters to the editors of the print media, many citizens would say so, but they would be wrong.
Many Australians, probably the vast majority, don’t realise that capitalism's heartland, the flag-bearer for the free-market, the good old dog-eat-dog land of the USA has a substantially larger government than this country, and spends significantly more on social programs.
The OECD Factbook 2014 shows that government expenditure in the United States is equal to 40 per cent of GDP, whereas the expenditure of Australia's governments is a comparative paltry 32.2 per cent. This is not new, as the figures below show:
Comparisons on an exchange rate basis can be deceiving, but the difference only gets larger when the figures are translated into purchasing power. By this measure, the US spends comfortably above the OECD average, whereas Australia remains below average: