In the fight against poverty, look not to the UK or Sweden, but Singapore!

So lectured Noel Pearson at the 2011 Sir Robert Menzies Lecture this week.

High praised was lavished on the island state and he went on to quote from Lee Kwan Yew:

Welfare undermined self-reliance. People did not have to work for their families’ wellbeing. The handout became a way of life. The downward spiral was relentless as motivations and productivity went down … They became dependent on the state for their basic needs.

Noel Pearson’s key concern is the severely disadvantaged aboriginal communities in Australia, but he also rightly points out that there are suburbs in the country’s cities where “white and immigrant underclass predominate”.

What he means, I suppose is that recipients of the state welfare system, need to learn to fish rather than have fish caught for them. If you continue to deliver their weekly Deep Sea Perch then why bother learning to fish?

“The Singaporeans aimed to put everyone on the development path and did not want an underclass to develop,” he says.

So fishing, it appears, is a very good sport.

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