Comparing government debt to putting your groceries on the credit card, which your children will have to pay for after you die, is utterly ridiculous as John Kelly has pointed out. It is also insulting, both for its duplicity and its inference that we are all ignorant fools.
It is a theme that is repeated constantly, with Hockey even summoning a tear as he refused to burden his children with our debt. Mind you he seems quite happy to burden the taxpayer with his debt but that’s a whole other issue.
Apparently, the millions that the Abbott government is paying to private firms to monitor the media and online opinions and to people like the odious Mark Textor to come up with slogans, has come up with “Intergenerational debt” as a winner. Our children and our grandchildren will be paying for our profligacy.
What a load of hogwash.
What we should be doing is investing in their future but, by his own admission, Tony Abbott isn’t looking sixteen years down the track.
The Abbott government’s deal with the Palmer United Party to freeze the minimum superannuation contribution rate at 9.5% until 2021 will not only cost retirees, it will also see future governments forced to bear the brunt of an increased reliance on the Age Pension which is likely to translate to many billions of dollars in increased pension payments over future years.
Prior to the Palmer deal, the guarantee was scheduled to increase to 10% on 1 July 2015 and reach 12% on 1 July 2019. The new policy therefore represents a six-year deferral of the increases.
The negative effects of the delay in the increase in the super guarantee rate will be magnified once the Age Pension age is raised to 70 and the pension is indexed to prices rather than wages with adverse effects largest for people currently under the age of 40.
The decision to deregulate university fees, cut the government contribution, and raise the interest rate, will also badly affect young people and particularly women.
According to research done by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling for The Conversation and based on fees charged at the University of Canberra, pay-off times and total repayments would be significantly higher for science, nursing and teaching degrees, particularly for women.
Even without deregulation, if the university simply recouped the amount lost from the government’s reduction in funding, a female science graduate would take 5.5 years longer to pay off the cost of her degree. She would be paying it off for a total 13.9 years. Her total repayments would increase by an estimated $51,500, to $95,700.
If universities increase their fees by an extra 20 per cent, the same graduate would have the debt for 16.4 years. Her repayments would nearly triple from $44,200 to $123,000. The initial debt would double from $39,700 to $79,700.
The Greens have also done modelling on the impact of the changes that shows poorer students would be hardest hit.
A graduate with a $34,000 debt and a starting salary of $75,000 would take 20 years to pay off their debt, paying $20,000 in interest.
Other modelling has revealed that women would be further impacted because they generally take a year off to have children and work part-time for at least two years after that.
And it isn’t just the universities that are under attack. The Government will cut $30 billion out of school funding over the next 10 years by increasing spending at a lower rate, abandoning the commitment to a properly funded needs-based aspirational system.
What they fail to understand is the importance of school education to individuals and to the productivity of our society. It is an investment which will bring a far greater return than taking money out of circulation so you can say “look at me, I have a surplus”.
We have slashed funding for research which means the best and brightest of our children will have to go overseas to pursue careers in science and innovation with the fruits of their labours enjoyed by those with the foresight to support their endeavours.
Our children have been told they must “earn or learn” as youth unemployment rises, courses become more expensive, trades training centres are closed down, and 457 visa workers are imported. If they find themselves unemployed they will be thrown to the wolves with no support for half of every year.
The only government strategy for dealing with youth unemployment seems to be renewed agitation for Workchoices II – strip away hard won entitlements, make them work for less, and they may find a job even if it IS “picking up garbage.”
Also under attack is the universal healthcare that we have enjoyed for over 40 years.
Not only will we have to pay more to see a doctor, increasingly, healthcare is being privatised where profit becomes the driving motive and unprofitable services become untenable. The budget cut $50 billion from proposed hospital funding over the next ten years, ripping up the signed agreement with the states, just as they did for education funding.
Government policies allowing foreign investment and tax concessions for negative gearing and capital gains coupled with very low interest rates mean our children will struggle to buy a home. Prices and rents have skyrocketed as investors buy up available properties.
But the biggest crime against our children is our inaction on climate change. Worse than that, we are hugely increasing our mining and exports of fossil fuels, a move that our children and the world at large will pay dearly for.
As a parent, I had hoped that I would pass on a world in better shape than I found it.
We aren’t mortgaging our children’s future, we are stealing it.