Sweeping changes to the way Australia delivers welfare have been flagged in a report that calls for thousands to have their disability pensions cut if they can work. (Aussie ABC)

[Question 1] This structure is not easy to understand. I guess that-clause is an extraposed relative clause that modifies this NP, sweeping changes. Am I right?
[Question 2] Does this phrase, Australia delivers welfare, mean to give government’s financial aid (to the disable)?

  • @StoneyB, looking at the article, it seems more like certain "sweeping changes" suggested by a report (reviewing welfare policy) have been identified ("flagged") by a third party (welfare activists) as sources of concern. It's not a particularly well-written sentence.
    – Pockets
    Jun 29, 2014 at 23:30
  • @SamuelLijn You're right. I will rewrite. Jun 29, 2014 at 23:39
  • 1) No; the relative clause modifies report. "Somebody has called attention to the fact that a report that calls for X proposes [sweeping changes in Y]. 2) Yes, pretty much. The way Australia delivers welfare = how the government gets aid into the pockets [of the disabled]. Jun 29, 2014 at 23:41
  • @StoneyB, Are you saying: A report that calls for thousands to have their disability pensions cut if they can work has flagged [signalled] sweeping changes to the way Australian delivers welfare?
    – Listenever
    Jun 29, 2014 at 23:43
  • That's what I thought, but Samuel Lijn corrected me. The changes were buried in the report, and some third party noticed them there and 'flagged' them: called them to public attention. Jun 29, 2014 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


The Australian government has released a report. This report recommends significant changes to Australian welfare payments. As a result, Australians who are able to work may lose their pensions.

  1. The that-clause is not extraposed. It modifies report, not sweeping changes.

  2. Yes, that's what Australia delivers welfare means. The discussion of cutting disability pensions later in the sentence makes this clear, although it's actually pretty clear even without additional context.

A terminological aside: Although many linguists do use the term extraposition for this sort of thing, others distinguish extraposition from postposition, and if you make that distinction this is the latter. See CGEL p.1066 "Postposing of relative clause".


The syntax is something resembling this very ad-hoc tree:

enter image description here

As you can see, the order of the sentence is conventional. Probably the only element that can be called extraposed is "a report", which is a subject that appears to have moved out of clause S2.

That is to say "calls for thousands to have ..." is not a complete sentence since it lacks a subject (who/what calls?). We can imagine that the complete sentence with a subject is "a report calls for thousands to have ...", and that this clause is nominalized by "a report" being extraposed onto the opposite side of the complementizer "that", so that the resulting structure's main constituent is "a report", and the rest of the clause then serves the purpose of narrowing down which report.

(This hypothesis seems good enough for the purposes of learning English, though it likely doesn't hold up in cutting edge linguistics.)

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