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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

‘Budget of broken promises’ is ‘cruel and unfair’

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Welfare groups have accused the Abbott government of dumping Australia’s sense of a fair go after targeting payments to unemployed young people, families, pensioners and people with disabilities in its first budget.

Northern Rivers Social Development Council CEO Tony Davies told local media it was an extra blow for people already struggling to make ends meet.

‘If you’re on Newstart and you’re earning $36 a day you’re going to struggle to get to see a GP if you’re unwell; you’re going to struggle to pay the extra $5 for prescription medication,’ he told ABC North Coast this morning.

‘If you’re lucky enough to own a car you’re going to struggle to drive some of the distances required to get to work.’

St Vincent de Paul Society chief John Falzon said, ‘There are measures in this budget that rip the guts out of what remains of a fair and egalitarian Australia’.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot has accused the government of delivering a ‘budget of broken promises’ that will ‘hurt pensioners and families already struggling to make ends meet’.

She added the measures were ‘cruel and unfair’.

The Greens say the budget has been ‘written for big business’ with the young. the sick. and the vulnerable hardest hit.

Even the Liberal state government has complained about the budget, accusing its federal counterparts of ‘cost-shifting’ by effectively abandoning its traditional funding of hospitals and schools.

‘Earn or learn’

Tough new work-for-the dole measures will force people aged 18–30 to ‘earn or learn’.

Those wanting government assistance will now have to wait six months before qualifying for support and will then have to undertake a six-month compulsory participation program.

‘This is the harshest cut of all,’ ACTU president Ged Kearney said.

Families are also in the firing line but parents receiving assistance towards the cost of raising their kids have won a small reprieve before budget pain begins for some from next year.

Payment rates for the Family Tax Benefit will remain at current levels until July 2016, but a year earlier the government wants families booted off part B when their youngest child turns six.

Also from mid-2015 there will be a new part B income test of $100,000, down from $150,000.

There’s some good news for single mothers hit by welfare cuts under the previous Labor government.

Tens of thousands of single mothers were left $60 to $100 a week worse off when they were pushed off parenting payments and onto the Newstart Allowance.

From July 2015 single parents receiving the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A will receive an extra $750 for each child aged between six and 12, once their youngest turns six.

Labor’s schoolkids’ bonus, worth $410 a year for primary school pupils and $820 a year for high school students, is for the chopping block.

The payment was linked to the minerals resource rent tax which the Abbott government wants to abolish.

Meanwhile, Gen X and Gen Y Australians on the disability support pension will be required to undertake work experience or some form of employment activity.

But people with severe impairments, terminal illnesses, or who have the capacity to work less than eight hours a week will be exempt.

From January 2015, recipients will only be able to travel abroad for four weeks – down from six – before their payments are cut off.

The government is on a collision course with seniors after revealing it won’t be so generous with future increases to the age pension.

The coalition is sticking to its pledge to do nothing in its first term but big changes are in the pipeline.

From late 2017, and after the next election, indexed increases to the age pension will be linked to the consumer price index instead of the highest rate available, generally male average earnings.

Seniors intend taking the change on notice.

‘I foresee them now sharpening their pencils as they go into the ballot box,’ National Seniors chief Michael O’Neill said.

As previously flagged, eligibility for the age pension will increase to 70 years by July 2035.

There was some good news for the disability sector in the budget.

The government has not moved to delay the rollout of the national disability insurance scheme.

Budget ‘for big business’

The Australian Greens say the federal budget has been written for big business, and young Australians, the sick and vulnerable are the hardest hit.

‘This is a divisive and brutal budget written in the boardrooms of big business,’ Greens leader Christine Milne said.

‘Tony Abbott’s rhetoric about sharing the burden is a lie.’

Serious challenges such as global warning and inequality were ignored and there was no plan for renewable-energy jobs, Senator Milne said.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie does not support the changes to the disability support pension, payments to the aged and families, and Newstart.

‘To suggest we have a budget emergency is plain wrong,’ he said.

To say the so-called budget emergency is justification for targeting disadvantaged members of the community was ‘diabolically cruel’.

Independent MP Clive Palmer says the government has handed Australians a ‘budget nightmare’ based on a ‘debt-crisis fairytale’, arguing there is no need to introduce a deficit levy or a Medicare co-payment.

‘Mr Hockey has delivered a heartless and cruel budget that will cause many Australians undue pain,’ the Palmer United Party leader said in a statement.

Mr Palmer said that Australia had one of the strongest low-debt profiles among OECD countries.

‘There is no debt crisis and therefore the excuse to impose a two per cent debt tax and introduce other harsh budgetary measures.’

Labor to vote against key measures

Labor is vowing to try to block key measures of the Abbott government’s unpopular first budget.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has confirmed that Labor will vote against the coalition’s move to introduce a $7 Medicare co-payment, as well as plans to hike the fuel excise and change the pension age.

‘Putting up everyone’s petrol bill we think is a bad idea in the current circumstances,’ Mr Shorten told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

‘We will fight, and I don’t know if we’ll win the arguments against Tony Abbott and their bad budget, but we will fight and fight and fight for Medicare.

‘We get that you’ve got to improve the health system and make it more cost effective but you don’t do that by stopping people at the door of the doctor’s surgery.’

But Mr Shorten refused to confirm whether the party would support the deficit levy on high income earners.

‘What we think is it is a broken promise,’ Mr Shorten said when asked about the coalition’s plan to hike tax on people earning more than $180,000 a year.

‘We haven’t made a final position on that.’

Mr Shorten said the Abbott government was trying to return the budget to surplus with ‘broken promises and by slugging ordinary people’.

‘First of all Tony Abbott said no new taxes under a government he leads … he said no nation ever taxes its way to prosperity. It was a lie.’

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the Medical Research Future Fund was a great idea, but should not be funded by the Medicare co-payment.

‘It should not be funded by Australia’s sick and vulnerable people,’ he told Sky News.

‘It should not be funded by people who may be on low and middle incomes who need to go the doctor.’

He said Labor would oppose increasing the pension age to 70 because treasurer Joe Hockey had failed to justify the decision.

‘He says Australians should work longer than anybody else in the developed world,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘Not one country in the OECD has a pension age of 70.’

Mr Bowen later signalled that Labor would not stand in the way of the government’s deficit levy.

‘When this was first leaked it was going to apply to people [earning] over $80,000. Now that’s not a high-income earner,’ he told the Nine Network.

‘We still don’t like it, we still don’t think it’s a good idea, but it’s not now a priority for us.

‘Our priority is defending Medicare, defending pensions, defending family payments.’

It’s cost-shifting: NSW

NSW premier Mike Baird is not happy that the federal government is passing health and education services on to the states.

One of Joe Hockey’s budget announcements was that the Commonwealth would cut $80 billion from health and education funding to the states over the next decade.

‘What they did was pass a spending problem to the states – they didn’t provide the income solution,’ Mr Baird told ABC radio on Wednesday.

NSW treasurer Andrew Constance, who will unveil NSW’s budget on June 17, said the federal budget was really just ‘cost-shifting’.

He said Treasury estimates the state will have to find an additional $1.2 billion over four years.

In education, NSW was being short-changed by $240 million, Mr Constance said.

‘We have committed expenditure to these areas. What we’ve seen from the Commonwealth in this year’s budget is a cost shift in terms of their growth monies,’ he told ABC radio.

‘We want to see the agreements honoured. These are vital areas of service delivery at a state level.’

He said he was also concerned about the impact of a $7 co-payment to visit a GP, announced by Mr Hockey, and ‘its potential impact on overwhelming our emergency departments’.

NSW Opposition leader John Robertson says NSW taxpayers have been hit hard by the budget.

‘NSW taxpayers have been hit hard when it comes to cuts to our hospital system of $25 billion, when we see co-payments being forced on families when they visit the doctor, and increased fees for university.

‘These are all things that aren’t going to help NSW,’ he told ABC radio.

Roads minister Duncan Gay welcomed the federal government’s commitment to spend $1.5 billion on the first section of the WestConnex motorway.

‘That means we can start the M5’s stage of WestConnex at the same time as the M4 stage,’ he told ABC radio.

Mr Constance said that WestConnex would transform the way NSW commuters moved through and around Australia’s global city.

Health, education cuts

The NSW government is worried by cuts to health and education but has applauded the Commonwealth for investing in the state’s infrastructure projects.

‘NSW Treasury estimates the state is being asked to find an extra $1.2 billion over four years in our health budget,’ NSW treasurer Andrew Constance said on Tuesday night.

‘The NSW government has major concerns over the Commonwealth’s budget, with what appears to be cost shifting in health and education services.’

The state government wants to discuss the ‘potential impact on service delivery’ that the ‘tough blueprint’ outlined by federal Treasurer Joe Hockey will have on NSW.

Mr Constance is also concerned about the announced $7 co-payment for every visit to the doctor, saying it could overwhelm the state’s already stretched hospital emergency departments.

‘We need to have a long and detailed discussion with the Commonwealth about further details regarding this announcement,’ he said.

But he was happy with the $11.6 billion infrastructure package, which will fund projects including the second stage of WestConnex and Pacific Highway upgrades.

Comment is being sought from the state opposition.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon told AAP that lower-income earners would be hit the hardest.

‘They’re going to pay more for their petrol; they’re going to be paying more to take their families to the doctors; there’s going to be questions around their welfare,’ he said.

‘It’s going to make it all the more difficult to make ends meet.’

The budget, he said, was the first step towards the abolition of social safety nets, and Medicare was the government’s first target.

Broken promises says Elliot

Richmond MP Justine Elliot has accused the Abbott Liberal-National government of delivering a budget of broken promises that that will hurt pensioners and families already struggling to make ends meet.

‘The people of north coast have every right to feel betrayed by this budget of broken promises and twisted priorities,’ Mrs Elliot said.

‘Before the election the prime minister promised no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to the pension,’ she said.

‘Before the election the prime minister promised no new taxes and no tax increases.

‘Tony Abbott’s budget means families will pay every time they see the doctor and pay more every time they fill up the family car.

‘Before the election the prime minister promised no change to pensions.

‘In his first budget, Tony Abbott will cut pensions and will force Australians to work longer.

‘Pensioners in our community are already doing it tough.

‘Pensioners and families on the north coast will pay for Tony Abbott’s budget of broken promises,’ Mrs Elliot said.

– with AAP

 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. The Libs are disgustingly sneaky . Someone earning over $180000 per year will be out of pocket around $1400 . An unemployed twenty four year old will be out of pocket $2500 . Pretty obvious who’s going to be doing the heavy lifting . The ones that can least afford it , the weak , the vulnerable , the sick , the disabled , pensioners . Everyone is going to be slugged at the petrol bowser except you guessed it , mining companies . They are also going to give $80 million less per year to the States so they end up being the ones responsible for a hike in GST not the Fed’s . The Fed’s want it but want the States to wear the Political backlash . It’s just sneaky snake oil Politics .
    We have not had full employment since the sixties and never will . Yet we still have Politicians strongly supported by shock jocks and right wing media . That firmly believe the only reason anyone is unemployed is because they’re too lazy to work . This has and will be an ongoing problem punishing them is not the solution . Even the most conservative economists agree the real problem which started with the previous Government is they are just not raising enough revenue . A smokescreen to make it look like the wealthy are doing some lifting but in reality it’s low to middle income earners that will be doing it

  2. Seems the states will now have to ask for a rise in GST to pay health and education. Just what the feds want –shift the cost of H & E then lay the blame on the states.. like Abbot said.. he is a fundamentalist!!!

  3. “The Government will achieve savings of $12.3 million over five years by reducing the amount of time Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients can leave Australia and still receive DSP. Recipients will receive DSP for a maximum of four weeks in a 12-month period should they travel overseas. All DSP recipients who leave Australia on or after 1 January 2015 will be subject to the new rules. Currently, DSP can be paid for absences from Australia for up to six weeks, on multiple occasions in any one year.”

    So, $12.3 mill divide by 5 = $2.46 mill divide by 800,000 (number on DSP) and that’s a saving of $3.08 per DSP person per year.

    Clearly this measure is NOT about achieving any meaningful saving, some may correctly believe it is about punishment and removal of freedom.

  4. Wait six months before receiving any benefit! How about Joe and Tony go without an income for six months and see how they survive!!

  5. Abbot and Hockey would find enormous savings by spending a fraction of the proposed cuts on some simple administrative work.

    It’s such common practice to rort Centrelink in any way possible. If they increased the quantity of random audits along with stiff prosecutions and penalties, they would be pretty surprised at how much money would stop flowing out. People like to rort the system…but they don’t particularly like going to jail or put onto involuntary ‘Community Service’ work gangs.

    And six months waiting time for benefits is a nice way to increase basic criminal activities to ‘fill the gap’ between registering and receiving.

    Way to go Clowns!

  6. Abbott won Govt on false pretences… Now those who voted for him are seeing through his deception. And his light-weight mentality is also showing through. Fancy … using ABBOTSPEAK to distort the meaning of words, and in the same breath asking us to “trust him”.

  7. The change to the DSP portability law is being justified based on $3.08 per person per year, clearly nonsense, the case for changing the law has not been established.

    When Companies give money to a Political Party and then that Political Party give public money back as a 1.5% tax reduction – then this budget should be referred to a corruption commission.

    Grim times indeed.

  8. Aimed to hit the vulnerable in society who cannot add to the corporate bottom line, this is a sham shameful brutal budget conjured on the sham of a false debt crisis. The truth as was noted is “Australia had [/has] one of the strongest low-debt profiles among OECD countries”.

    9The destruction of our egalitarian eduction with Universities being able to charge high fees is most shocking and any Australian with a belief in a fair go should be screaming from the roof tops to stop this. Only the upper middle class and rich will be able to afford to send their children the leading universities (likely setting fees competing with overseas students) so intrenching inequality in our society. Shameful and likely a betrayal from those who got their educational and career opportunities because of the egalitarian Australia they are now destroying. Classic case of the selfish closing the gate behind them.

    The brutal and callous treatment to the poor and vulnerable is further perversely revealed in the hypocrisy of paying rich women $50,000 (if earning $100,000 plus) a year maternity leave from the public purse while working woman on low incomes will receive a pittance of this (if earning $25000, just $12500 as example, that is receive 25% of $50000). Just a shockingly disturbing policy of greed.

  9. So. basically nothing is new.

    The Liberal machine act as they always have and that is to create gaps between Wealth and Poor , but they do it in a means where they would kick the poor if they could.

    I feel sorry for those who believed Tony Abbotts pre-election promises.

    We got three and a bit more years of this , so lets get used to it.

  10. The New Start rules are very confusing.
    As most of the NEW START applicants will need money to live it can be assumed that the majority will turn to criminal activities to survive.It is not all bad as there will be enormous amounts of jobs on offer. Consider the amount of jobs that will be created, more POLICE OFFICERS, MAGISTRATES, PRISON OFFICERS, BUILDERS to build NEW PRISONS etc.
    But now the big problem, where will they get the workers to fill the new jobs? If the NEW STARTERS have turned to crime and other illegal actions so they can survive then the above jobs will not have enough applicants. If the NEW STARTERS don’t turn to illegal actions then the above jobs will not be needed.

    .

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