MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - FEDERAL BUDGET
May 15, 2014
In the days leading up to the election we heard the Prime Minister making the patronising proclamation that this Budget would be about ‘pain with a purpose’.
Well if the purpose was to make life harder for Australian families.
If the purpose was destroy the ‘fair go’ for Australian families and pensioners.
If the purpose was to attack the Australian way of life.
Then the Prime Minister was absolutely right.
Because this Government’s budget of broken promises will inflict pain on millions of Australians.
Hard working Australian families will be worse off by up to $5000 a year.
Pensioners will have their pension cut.
And young Australians will be deserted without support for months on end.
And what makes this pain even harder to cope with is the Prime Minister campaigned for office promising not to introduce so many of the damaging changes he is now implementing.
What is now clear is that the Prime Minister campaigned for office on a web of deceit.
He was the one who campaigned on no cuts to health, no changes to the pension, and no new taxes.
And what did we see from this Government on Tuesday night?
Cuts to family benefits.
Cuts to pensions
Cuts to support for students and young people.
Scrapping of the SchoolKids Bonus.
More for medicine.
More tax on fuel.
And of course a GP tax.
Every time Australian families visit their GP and get whacked with a GP tax.
Every time they fill up the car at the bowser and get slogged with the Abbott fuel tax.
They’ll be reminded of the Abbott Government’s broken promises.
And let’s be very clear the GP tax is an attack on Medicare.
The GP tax is an attack on universal healthcare.
The cigar chomping elite opposite might not think that $7 is much money.
But for many families $7 to take their sick child to see the doctor is a lot of money.
What is so mean and nasty about this GP tax is that the sicker you are the more you’ll pay.
In effect those most vulnerable members of society will suffer the greatest burden.
The AMA, College of Emergency Physicians, Doctors Reform Society, Public Health Association of Australia, Royal Australian College of General practitioners, Consumers Health Forum, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association have all advised the Government against this new GP tax.
But the Prime Minister is intent on destroying Medicare so he’s introducing it anyway.
Labor will defend Medicare because we believe in universal healthcare.
Just as we did when the Fraser Government privatized Medibank during the 1970s - Labor will fight for universal healthcare for all Australians.
The pressure that will come on Australian families because of the Abbott Government’s broken promises will cause pain.
All of these cuts and taxes will mean Australian families will be worse off.
Families on Family Tax Benefit Part B will now have their payment cut completely when their youngest child turns six. Currently, eligible families continue to receive the FTB Part B until their youngest child turns 16.
These cruel cuts to families just show how out of touch the Abbott Government is.
This pain will be felt by Australian pensioners as well.
They are being told by the Prime Minister to tighten their belt.
But they are being are asked to cop a cruel cut to indexation.
Tony Abbott will slash the current fair indexation system – which makes sure the pension keeps pace with the cost of living – so the pensions are instead indexed by CPI.
This measure is not an accurate reflection of pensioners’ cost of living, and will mean our pensioners have to get by on less.
The Budget will also increase the pension age to 70 by 2035.
So Australians will have to work longer, and their pension will be slashed when they finally do get to retire.
Had Tony Abbott’s new indexation system been in place for the last four years, a single pensioner on the maximum rate would be $1,560 a year worse off than they are today.
They are going to de-link the indexation of the pension from wages growth.
Of course it was the Howard Government that legislated to index pensions using the Male Total Average Weekly Earnings if that index was higher than CPI.
Because the Prime Minister Howard understood the need for the pension to keep up with the cost of living.
But not so Prime Minister Abbott.
And if you don’t believe me about the importance of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings on pension indexation, ask the Minister for Social Services, the Member for Menzies, who said in 2011:
“The Howard Government legislated to index pensions using the Male Total Average Weekly Earnings if that index was higher than the consumer price index. This enabled pensioners to keep ahead of cost-living increases…”
One of the most heartless measures this Budget of broken promises relates to the Government’s abandonment of young people.
The Prime Minister is telling young people: You’re on your own.
That’s the message the Abbott Government has sent young Australians looking for work with its savage cut of $1.2 billion to income support for people under 30.
From 1 January next year, people under 30 who need Newstart or Youth Allowance will be forced to wait six months before receiving any support.
What exactly does the Prime Minister think young people will live off for six months if they can’t find a job?
And young people under 24 will be shifted from Newstart onto the lower Youth Allowance, making them $48 a week worse off.
This is a cruel Government that is callously targeting young people and exposing them to a life of poverty and increased risk of homelessness.
Labor believes the best way to help young people find a job was to support them through training and work experience. Cutting their income support will not help them get into work or education or training.
This Budget demonstrates how out of touch the Abbott Government is.
They are inflicting needless pain on millions of Australians.
And try as he might, we will not let the Prime Minister get away with his weasel words and broken promises.
Labor will hold this Government to account for every broken promise they made to millions of Australians.