Tony Abbott has put families and businesses on notice that his Government will not be an easy touch for handouts, endorsing Treasurer Joe Hockey's declaration that the "age of entitlement" had ended.
"We are moving from the age of unsustainable entitlement to the era of sensible responsibility, of sensible personal responsibility and I think the public understand that," the Prime Minister told ABC TV last night.
Mr Abbott said the coalition would keep its promises and act consistent with its mandate but the May Budget would contain some "painful things".
The Treasurer cited Cabinet's decision last week to reject SPC Ardmona's plea for $25 million to part-fund a reconfiguration of its fruit cannery in northern Victoria in saying taxpayers should not be asked to do what companies won't do themselves.
"I say to you, emphatically, everyone in Australia must do the heavy lifting now," Mr Hockey told ABC radio yesterday. "The age of entitlement is over. The age of personal responsibility has begun.
"We need to help those people who are most vulnerable in our community. That is our duty. We will do that, but we can only do that on a sustainable basis."
Mr Hockey's comments echo those he made in a speech in London almost two years ago in which he said universal entitlements built up over decades had become unsustainable.
It is understood the Treasurer's comments were aimed at all forms of welfare, including corporate and sectoral assistance.
SPC Ardmona's parent company Coca-Cola Amatil is expected to use a board meeting on February 18 to make an announcement on the future of the company.
Mr Hockey said some of SPC Ardmona's work conditions were "astounding", including nine weeks paid leave, a five-day Melbourne Cup holiday and two weeks severance pay for every six months of service.