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Fifteen things the government doesn’t find as important as I do

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article titled Fifteen things that are more important than slogans about innovation. It is informative to measure how the budget and recent events have addressed these issues.

1.Climate change and the environment

Climate change was not even mentioned. There was no new money for climate initiatives and the only mention renewable energy got was to confirm that $1.3 billion in funds would be stripped from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Much fanfare was made by Greg Hunt about an extra $171 million in funding for the Great Barrier Reef except the money comes from cuts to other environmental programs.

On Wednesday, some government MPs recommended a rule that would mean green groups losing their tax deductibility status for donations unless each year they spend at least a quarter of the money they receive on “environmental remediation works” such as tree plantings.


After having previously ripped out substantial funding for preventive health programs, the only budget measure in this regard is the usual increase in tobacco excise. They cut $21.2 million from grants under the Practice Incentives Program which provides payments to general practice including for asthma and diabetes care.

The $2.9 billion given back to hospital funding is very much a stop-gap measure to get the federal government through the upcoming election. The problem has been deferred briefly.

The freezing of the MBS remains as does the ‘zombie proposal’ to increase PBS co-payments.

$17 million will be saved by scrapping the Child Dental Benefits Scheme and replacing it with a ‘new’ Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme.

The decision by some pharmacies to wear the cost of offering discounted prescriptions will save the government $373 million over 4 years as it would take concession patients an extra 11 scripts to reach their safety net.


The Coalition has said it will give $1.2 billion for needs-based school funding between 2018-2020 which falls well short of the $4.5 billion promised by Labor between 2018-19 as part of the Gonski reform model.

The higher education reforms that were announced in the 2014 budget, which included the deregulation of university fees, will now be delayed for another year.

There are also cuts of $152.2 million over four years to the Higher Education Participation Program, which funds universities to bring in students from the lowest socio-economic levels and $20.9 million over the next four years to the Promotion of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program.

The budget proposes little new for early learning, with the government deferring implementation of its Jobs for Families Package giving a budget saving of $43.4 million in 2016-17 and $1.15 billion in 2017-18.

We have morphed from Canberra keeping out of the running of schools to proposals to pay teachers for performance and a direction to focus on explicit instruction and graduation tests.


People who earn over $80,000 will get a small tax cut of 4.5c for each dollar earned between $80,000 and $87,000. Those on very high incomes of over $180,000 will also have the 2% levy removed.

The wealthy will still benefit from overly generous property concessions and businesses will see their tax reduced by up to 5% costing us an estimated $55 billion over the next decade.

The last two budgets locked in massive cuts to schools and hospitals, $13 billion in cuts to payments and $1 billion in cuts to services for people who bear the brunt of inequality. This budget has not only retained these cuts but has slashed an additional $3 billion in cuts to support payments and essential services. This budget, like its predecessors, entrenches inequality rather than fighting it.

5.Domestic violence

The budget is confirmation that the Commonwealth government is more concerned with threats abroad and public violence than the scourge of family violence permeating every corner of the Australian community – we are ignoring known threats to investigate potential ones.

In comparison with the $100 million allocated to family violence, the budget allocates $30 billion for national security, with the promise of “keeping Australians safe”.

It is estimated that violence against women between 2014-15 cost the nation $21.6 billion.

There was no restoration of funding for community legal aid.

6. Research

The Federal Government has cut $9.5million from the Rural Research and Development for Profit Program (RRDPP) whose role is to research new technologies for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. It was set up last year as part of the Coalition’s long-awaited promise to spend $100 million on agricultural research.

The Coalition promised that amount of funding for rural research and development before the 2013 election but subsequently wiped out more than that amount through cuts to Co-operative Research Centres and the CSIRO.

The money will be redirected to fund feasibility studies for more dams.

7.Indigenous disadvantage

Last year the government published a Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

“the Panel found that the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme – Tertiary Tuition ( ITAS-TT) program provided tutoring support that was highly valued by students in helping them to succeed in their studies. It could be further strengthened through changes to the eligibility criteria and possible development of a national tutor database to support the program.”

Rather than following the recommendation to expand this very successful program, Morrison dumped it altogether, redirecting $10 million to a new Indigenous Student Success Program which will be outcomes based and give higher education institutions with higher Indigenous completions more money.

Indigenous Business Australia will lose $23.1 million in funding. The government said the money will be going back to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and redirected to “Indigenous entrepreneurs”.

$15 million will be spent on “raising awareness of the constitutional recognition referendum and national community forums on the issue.”

8.Youth unemployment

Businesses will be given an upfront payment of $1000 for taking on an intern for as little as four weeks. This presents a clear opportunity for business to fill potential job vacancies with subsidised, and therefore very much cheaper, unprotected interns.

9.Homelessness and housing affordability

The previous Abbott government cancelled both the low-income Social Housing Initiative and the moderate-income National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Morrison’s budget did not contain any meaningful affordable housing measures – no action for the 105,000 people experiencing homelessness in prosperous Australia, or the 200,000 households waiting for social housing, or the 1 million households in housing stress.

But wealthy investors will continue to enjoy excessive property tax concessions.

10.Positive Aging

$1.2 billion has been cut from aged care.


The Government has found $2.1 billion in savings from the welfare budget which it will move into a new NDIS savings fund.

The Government also expects to save $62 million by assessing 30,000 Disability Support Pension recipients’ capacity to work.

12.Tax avoidance

Morrison announced in the budget that 390 new staff would be part of a 1300-strong “tax avoidance taskforce” looking at tax compliance by multinational companies operating in Australia.

The price tag for the staffing boost is listed in the budget papers as $680 million over four years. I wonder what the price tag was for the 4,700 redundancies.

13.Corruption and political donations

The banks will now pay ASIC to regulate them.


Peter Dutton has descended to new levels of bastardry. He accuses advocates of encouraging self-harm. He denies medical treatment to detainees. He refuses to let any refugees go to New Zealand and he ignores the PNG court ruling to close the detention centre.


The budget is completely silent on the changes required to keep the NBN delivering its original promise and timely completion.

It reconfirms the government’s capped investment, with $8.83 billion as the last tranche of funding to flow to nbn co. during 2016-17. This will force nbn co. to seek alternative methods of financing through private equity or debt financing to meet the future operational and capital expenditure required to complete the network’s roll-out.

All in all, an uninspiring tinkering budget which will do very little to improve our society.


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  1. Unhappy

    Complete bloody waste of time! No cutbacks on overseas aid, no stopping Muslims, no help for the poor unemployed, stop all FTA’s and start looking after Australians FIRST!

  2. bertr

    Hopefully people will see past the spin and THINK who they vote for. I don’t care if someone votes for the Looney Lid Lifters party just THINK!!!!

  3. flohri1754

    Very well put …. again highlights for me why I have never and can never cast a vote for the LNP ……

  4. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, yet again my humble gratitude to you for encapsulating what my thoughts on current Aussie politics might be.

    Again and again, you must fall back to the problem of what constitutes the Tory pathology and mindset. Didn’t most of us grow out of pulling the wings off insects?

    How has the system failed to the extent of superannuated school child monsters being given control, like some sort of real world equivalent to the psychotic world of Lord of the Flies?

  5. Möbius Ecko

    Paul Walter the answer to that is perfectly encapsulated in Malcolm Turnbull. He openly doesn’t agree with much of the Tory philosophy and policies yet espouses and implements them anyway. To my mind the main reason is personal greed and lust for power, and another is being beholden to those who are funding you and keeping you in power, whose whole pathology and mindset is solidly mired in greed.

  6. seaworks

    Oh dear this lot of neocons must think we are as stupid as they are.
    A bland do nothing budget ( except a small hand out to the rich)will they hope get them over the line in the election/auction.
    Then once they have the power again, watch out for draconian cuts for the poor and even bigger hand outs for the rich.
    Remember, innovation and plans for jobs and growth the great new slogan.
    If repeated often enough people will believe it. Just ask Dr Goebels.

  7. keerti

    Mobius Echo and others, when will you stop this fiction that underneath it all that turncoat is somehow a captive of values and policies that he doesn’t believe in? Of course he believes in them. That is why he can suggest that we can all buy our newborns a house or if they are young adults trying to buy their first house that their parents should stump up the money for them. The only thing good about him is his wine bil is cheaper than abfarts!

  8. Kaye Lee

    A few more of the government programs that have been cut…..

    The Government will achieve efficiencies of $27.4 million over two years from 2015‑16 from the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships Programme and the National Low Emissions Coal Initiative. The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.

    The Government will achieve savings of $247.2 million over five years from 2015‑16 by reducing the annual funding available under the Industry Skills Fund.

    The Government will achieve efficiencies of $162.7 million over four years from 2016‑17 from uncommitted project contingency funding within the Infrastructure Investment Programme.

    The Government will return $853.6 million in unallocated funds from the Asset Recycling Initiative (ARI) to the budget for use on other policy priorities.

    The Government will achieve efficiencies of $20.9 million over four years from 2016‑17 by adjusting funding for the Promotion of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program.

  9. lawrencewinder

    That 50% of the public think that this is ok and a fine projected path for the country beggars belief….

  10. Kyran

    Seems a tad odd they didn’t mention Climate Change. Their brilliant idea, direct inaction, sorry, indirect action, had its third auction between 27-28 April. The price of carbon credits, like every thing under this government, is in decline;
    “The price has fallen to $10.23 a tonne, down from $14 a year ago, and $12 last November.”

    “More than two thirds of the Emissions Reduction Fund has already been allocated.
    Mr Harris said he expected it might all be committed by the end of the year.
    He said he hoped the Minister for Environment Greg Hunt would find more money in 2017, to achieve Australia’s international commitments on carbon reduction.”

    Ghunt is normally pretty quick to the FIGJAM announcement (Feck I’m Good, Just Ask Me), so it’s odd he wasn’t out extolling the virtues of his policy and announcing further funding. It’s odd that talcum wasn’t using the success of the scheme to justify his double back flip (with a twist and pike) on the policy issue. It’s odd that scummo didn’t include it as a byline in the budget and merely demand that he couldn’t comment as it was a non-operational matter, or someone else’s homework.

    It’s not like the recipients of the largesse aren’t taking it all very seriously. They are taking the money seriously. As to the rest of it;
    “Northern Australian landholders who have committed to reducing their hot fires with savannah burning have secured Government money in the latest Carbon Auction.
    Hot fires contribute four per cent of Australia’s emissions a year, but landholders have a joke in the north, calling the money for carbon that they don’t produce “fairy dust”.”

    It’s also a tad odd that the ABC has started rearranging where the articles are placed. That one appeared in the ‘rural’ section, not environment or business. Thank you, Ms Lee. Take care (you too, Aunty Murdoch).

  11. Kaye Lee

    ERF auction participant John Bull purchased his property in Bourke in New South Wales seven years ago and since then has experienced the three driest and the three wettest years on record.

    At its peak his grazing property ran up to 15,000 head of sheep and cattle but, as a result of drought conditions, today he has none.

    Under the scheme, Mr Bull will nurture the growth of native trees like mulga and bimblebox, which store carbon in their trunks, for their lifetime — usually about 100 years.

    He will also agree to a series of land management restrictions which effectively prevent sheep grazing and reduce the amount of cattle across 13,000 hectares of his land.

    “I’m sure there’s going to be some sections of the community who look at this and say it’s a bit of a joke but the way I view it is that we’re presented with an opportunity,” Mr Bull said.

    “The Government’s framed a market … and all we’re doing is taking advantage of a market that’s being created.

    “At the end of the day we’re trying to make a quid off the place.”

    So here’s the message…buy some scrub, agree to not run stock on it or clear trees from it and sit back and get paid by the government for doing nothing.

  12. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, I find the collection of available revenue basic to funding our wishes: if our government will not institute both a maximum and a minimum taxation rate for companies, we are buggered. They have a list of deductions as long as your arm and unless we can put a minimum of taxation to be paid on “all” companies taking in excess of $100 mil then what chance do we have with governments missing out on billions of dollars in revenue, after all its not asking for a great deal, all it is asking for is “a fair go” for the society where they make their huge incomes?

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