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Tag Archives: budget cuts

This is Australia – um … isn’t it?

Australia – the land of a fair go, of mate-ship and of lending a hand. I’ve always believed that. But under Abbott, is this changing? When I hear the line “This is Australia” from the well known GANGgajang song, Sounds of Then (This is Australia) this is how I feel.

This song resonates with me. When I hear this song, I feel the sounds, smells, the beauty of our country and our mateship are unique to Australia. They are ours and it is something to be proud of. It makes me feel grounded. Something I heard on the radio on Wednesday night made me think; “This is Australia … um … isn’t it?”

On Wednesday night, one of the members of GANGgajang, Graham “Buzz” Bistrup (ex-Angels, GANGgajang and one of the masterminds behind the best ABC show ever “Sweet and Sour“) was a guest on radio show The Musical Chair. He was discussing GANGgajang, his work on the ABC’s 80’s iconic Sweet and Sour and the good work of the Jimmy Little Foundation. Buzz is the CEO of the Jimmy Little Foundation.

The Jimmy Little Foundation is a not for profit organisation who aim to improve the quality of life for Indigenous Australians and to provide health and nutrition education and to strive for excellence in health care for Indigenous Australians. They do this through music and video. Jimmy Little was a celebrated and beloved Australian Aboriginal musician, actor and advocate whose career spanned six decades. A Yorta Yorta man, he was raised on the Cummerangunja Mission in New South Wales.

The Jimmy Little Foundation runs a great program called the “Thumbs Up – Healthy Tucker for Life” program. The program advice on the website states that this is a “Schools Program aimed at Indigenous children aged 5-16. A creative environment using music and new media workshops in schools and community concerts is employed to promote healthy eating education and information in partnership with local stores and local health services.”

It was on this radio segment I found out that the Abbott Government has cut funding to the Jimmy Little Foundation’s Programs. Once again the Abbott Government reinforces that they are not serious about funding Indigenous programs or services in Australia.

The Jimmy Little Foundation has released this statement:

Our organisation was previously funded by the Federal Department of Health but the current Government has ceased funding our programs. Our venture is to raise enough money to keep our office open with a skeleton staff for 12 months so we can “stay in the game”.

Through this blog post, I encourage everyone who reads this to donate whatever they can. Even if it is a small amount. Every bit helps. So please donate to “Start Some Good” Crowd-funding to keep these wonderful programs going. Please Tweet, Share, Re-Blog so people are aware that another savage cut by Abbott affects the people who need it most and money can be raised for this very worthy cause.

Please…Start some good and donate now:

Originally Published on Polyfeministix


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A ‘budget emergency’: it’s all about choices

The excuse for the draconian cuts made by Abbott and Hockey is that there is a budget emergency and a debt crisis. I in no way concur with this appraisal of our economy or our future outlook but, that aside, as those of us who are not independently wealthy know, if you have limited funds then prioritising expenditure is most important. The following article is to give you some perspective on how our money could be better spent.

In a display of largesse, Tony Abbott chose to gift $16 million to the profitable Cadburys factory, $10 million to his beloved Manly Sea Eagles, and $5 million to Rupert Murdoch’s Brisbane Broncos. This money could have paid for:

  • The Climate Change Authority which was allocated $6.2 million in the 2012-13 financial year
  • The National Preventative Health Agency which will be abolished, saving $6.4 million over five years.
  • The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia which has an annual budget of $1.6 million from the federal Health Department.
  • The Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing which is to be scrapped – at a saving of just over $1 million a year.
  • The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) despite allocating $140,000 just two weeks ago in its 2014-15 Budget.
  • The Government will achieve savings of $6.4 million over four years by ending the Get Reading! Programme
  • The Government will achieve savings of $4.4 million in 2014-15 by ceasing funding for Building Australia’s Future Workforce – Connection Interviews and Job Seeker Workshops
  • The Government will achieve savings of $3.9 million over two years from 1 July 2014 by ceasing funding for the Experience+ Career Advice initiative

Joe Hockey’s $8.8 billion gift to the Reserve Bank of Australia could have funded:

  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payments and safety net thresholds which will increase by $5 (from $37.70 to $42.70) and for concessional patients by 80 cents (to $6.90) in 2015. PBS safety net thresholds will the increase by 10 per cent annually. The saving is $1.3 billion.
  • The threshold on Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) will drop by 10%, to $50,638 in 2016, at a repayment rate of 2%, saving $3.2 billion over 4 years.
  • Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB-B), which will be cut for families when their youngest child turns six. Currently about 60 per cent of families with children under the age of 16 receive the payment, and the changes will save the Government $1.9 billion over five years.
  • All Family Tax Benefit payments will be frozen and remain at current rates for two years, saving the Government $2.6 billion over four years.

Kevin Andrews $245 million school chaplaincy program and $20 million in marriage counselling vouchers could have been spent on:

  • Indigenous legal aid which will have $13.4 million stripped from its budget over the next three years
  • Community Legal Centres – additional $30 million set to be stripped from community legal centres, legal aid commissions, and family violence prevention services.
  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Education Programme saving $1.8 million over four years.
  • the HECS HELP benefit, which was intended to provide an incentive for graduates of particular courses to take up related occupations or work in specified locations will end from 2015-16. This measure will achieve savings of $87.1 million over three years.
  • Australian Research Council funding will be cut by 3.25%, saving $74.9 million over three years.
  • Funding to the Australia Institute for Teaching and School Leadership will be reduced, saving $19.9 million over five years.
  • The Better Schools Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning will end, saving $21 million over 5 years.
  • $14.7 million from Child Care Early Learning Projects
  • Live Animal Exports – Business Assistance Supply Chain and Official Development Assistance (Improved Animal Welfare Programme) saving of $2.3 million

Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme, costing $22.2 billion could pay for:

  • The GP co-payment, to apply from July next year, will raise $3.5bn over four years.
  • The changes to Newstart which will save the Government $1.2 billion over the four-year forward estimates period.
  • Australian foreign aid spending is being cut by $7.6 billion over the next five years
  • $1.8 billion over four years by tearing up the 2011 health reform agreement and 2007 public hospital funding arrangements, which saw any increased expenditure split 50/50 between state and federal governments. Instead it will move to a CPI and population growth model for any additional funds.
  • The government also outlined intentions to index pensions and equivalent payments by the Consumer Price Index, estimated to save $449 million over five years.
  • Apprentices will lose grants offered under the $914 million program Tools for your Trade
  • The Seniors Supplement will be abolished from July 1 this year, for a saving of $1.1 billion.
  • The Dependent Spouse Tax Offset, which until now was available to people with dependent spouses of age 60 or older, will be discontinued, a decision which will save the Government $320 million.
  • The Mature Age Worker Tax Offset will also be abolished, saving $750 million
  • The Government has also abolished the Pensioner Education Supplement, for a saving of $281 million,
  • They will not proceed with the planned pilot of Supporting Senior Australians: Housing Help For Seniors, a $173 million program that was to encourage older Australians to downsize to smaller dwellings.
  • The Government will save $1.7 billion over six years – by almost halving its expenditure on the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
  • The Government will save $89.6 million over four years by reducing the Medicare Benefits Schedule rebate for all optometry services from 85 per cent to 80 per cent commencing from 1 January 2015. This measure will also remove the charging cap that currently applies to optometrists accessing the Medicare Benefits Schedule, enabling them, in the future, to set their own fees in a similar manner to other health providers.
  • The government has estimated it will save $12.7m by ordering medical specialists to review veterans who are receiving military compensation payments for economic loss because of an inability, or reduced ability, to work because of injury or illness.
  • The government has deferred the establishment of 13 Partners in Recovery organisations which help people with severe mental illness by coordinating clinical, housing, education, employment, income and disability services to save $53.8m.
  • The Government will achieve savings of $10.0 million over five years from the Office of Water Science research programme, with the programme terminating on 30 June 2016 and a further $20.9 million over four years by closing the National Water Commission in December 2014.
  • $390 million saved by deferring the National Partnership Agreement for adult public dental services until July 2015.
  • $367.9 million saved by axing the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health
  • $2.9 million by axing the National Tobacco Campaign. Dept of Health to develop online and social media campaign.
  • The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples disbanding will save $15 million over the next three years
  • Funding for Indigenous languages has been cut by almost 10-million dollars over four years.
  • The Government will achieve savings of $196.8 million over nine years by terminating the Australia Network contract with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  • The Government will achieve savings of $201.0 million over three years from 2015-16 by ceasing reward funding to States and Territories under the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services.
  • $115.4 million is saved by abolishing GP Education and Training Limited, shifting its functions into Health, and ceasing the Pre-vocational GP Placements Scheme.
  • The Government will achieve savings of $38.4 million over five years by ceasing the Displaced Persons Programme from 2013-14.
  • The Government will achieve net savings of $120.0 million over six years from 2015 by ceasing the Ethanol Production Grants Programme on 30 June 2015.
  • The Government will achieve savings of $134.3 million over five years by abolishing the First Home Saver Accounts scheme
  • $229 million saved over 4 years by axing the Dental Flexible Grants Programme.
  • A cut of $173.7 million over 3 years to the Research Training Scheme from 2016
  • Tightened eligibility criteria for the child care providers to access the community support program will save $157.1 million over 3 years.
  • $29.8 million saved over four years by cancelling the Improving Educational Outcomes program
  • $31.1 million saved by reducing funding for Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency
  • $9.9 million saved by axing funding for the nursing and allied health scholarships in Tasmania.
  • $2.3 million cut in contribution to the World Health Organisation

This list of cuts is by no means exhaustive, just a comparison of how the Coalition chooses to spend our money. If we look at the hundreds of billions they intend to spend on defence in the coming years, we could have free health, needs-based funding for education, real NBN, an increase in research spending, a decrease in university fees, and an increase in Newstart, pensions, and foreign aid as well as taking action on climate change. It might cost us a few planes and submarines and Tony might have to cut back on a few of the war games he has been planning. How would you prefer the money be spent?

More great articles by Kaye Lee:

Hi ho, Hi ho….where am I spose to go?

My kids are ok, yours can go beg.

War games

Who are the real leaners here?


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Call to Arms

Make no mistake, we are under attack. The very fabric of our wonderful society is being torn apart to satisfy the ambition of a man who once said

“We are all promoted to our own level of incompetence. So sooner or later mine will be reached.”

We now have a government who thinks unfettered mining is desirable and that environmental protections are an impediment. They are willing to sacrifice the reef and old growth forests for profit.

We have a government who thinks a 9th investigation into the Home Insulation Program is more important that the Royal Commission into systemic child sexual abuse.

We have a government who thinks jet fighter planes are more important than education, excessive paid parental leave is more important than pensions, and profits are more important than health.

University will become unaffordable to most, and techs and trade training centres are being closed.

Science and the Arts are irrelevant and research is a waste of money, unless it’s done by pollie pedal sponsoring big pharma.

We have a government who thinks the internet is for playing games, watching porn, and downloading movies.

School chaplaincy programs and marriage counselling vouchers are more important than welfare and advocacy groups.

CCTVs are supposedly more effective than the many early intervention crime prevention programs that have been axed.

Thousands of kilometres of asphalt will be laid with unknown benefit whilst public transport is ignored.

Instead of closing tax loopholes to address falling revenue, we give amnesties to tax cheats, increase the amount that can be put into superannuation at a reduced tax rate, and lower company tax, even though it has been shown time and time again that companies and wealthy individuals are legally rorting the system and paying very little if anything.

We hear that young unemployed will be thrown to the wolves for 6 months of the year whilst their grandparents will work till they are 70, presumably building Tony’s roads or in the military as they are the only plans they have for creating jobs.

We have a government who is pinning the country’s future on fossil fuels while the rest of the world moves to renewable energy. This aversion to renewable energy has cost us countless millions in lost investment.

We have a Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs who has slashed millions of dollars in funding to hundreds of programmes that were working to close the gap. Charities and support groups have been decimated.

We have a government who wants to throw away tens of billions in revenue from the carbon and mining taxes for no reason other than the previous government introduced them.

We have a government who wants to dictate to us what our family must look like. Gay people may not marry the person they love, and apparently the children of single parent families are likely to end up promiscuous or in gaol according to our Social Services Minister who, as one of his first actions, repealed gambling reform laws.

We have a government that creates a job for Tim Wilson to be the Human Rights Commissioner for Bigots while we sack the Human Rights Commissioner for the Disabled.

We have a government who would prefer to see private debt spiral out of control rather than run a deficit.

We have a government that sees no responsibility to be a global citizen. We are a wealthy nation who is refusing to meet our Foreign Aid commitments, our commitments to global action on climate change, and our commitment to provide safe haven for asylum seekers. Far from being safe here, we send refugees into danger, locking them up indefinitely without hope, persecuting them even though they have committed no crime other than to ask for our help.

We have a government that condones torture and human rights abuses and who actively assists regimes guilty of atrocities against their own people.

We have a government who is showing indecent haste to sell off the assets that belong to all of us, assuming that because they won an election they have a right to do as they please. Private companies run for profit – they don’t care about equal opportunity and access for all to essential services. If it doesn’t make a profit then the service will disappear.

We have a government who think Kirribilli House and Parliament House are theirs to hold soirees for the party faithful and lobbyists, and that selling access to Ministers is perfectly legitimate.

One of my great uncles is buried in the fields of France, killed during WW1. My father fought in WW2 and, like so many of those who were ‘lucky’ enough to survive, the experience had a profound effect on him and no doubt haunted him for the rest of his life.

Are the sacrifices that so many have made before us to be for nothing? Were the battles fought, that have made this such a wonderful country, won in vain, to be surrendered as we raise a white flag to corporate greed?

This attack on our country must be repulsed. It is up to every one of us to stand together and defend our way of life.


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Abbott, “skills beyond his years”

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Mark Kenny has been effusive in his praise of Tony Abbott, writing: Abbott in China shows skills beyond his years

My first response was a quizzical one; skills beyond his years? Kenny is writing about a person who is 56 years old and who has been in politics for just over two decades. Surely some sort of “skills” should have already emerged during that length of time. . .or at least one would have thought so.

Kenny, who clearly is or rather was, aiming for some boost in Abbott’s popularity arising from Tony’s overseas sojourn, then added:

But Abbott has spent a political career surprising those who underestimate the power of HIS intelligence, HIS people skills (funnily enough), and perhaps most importantly, HIS directness.

Is this all about the person and not the country?

Abbott clearly has been hiding these of his particular lights under a bushel, with the above going mostly unnoticed by a public who sit and watch. . . and learn, as Abbott does such things such as break his word on a regular basis, runs when in tight corner and offers nothing for an increasingly cynical and somewhat saddened electorate. Directness without empathy is a poor skill indeed.

We then learn. . .

A record high vote of support for the Greens and a slump in support for the Coalition in regional Australia has left Tony Abbott’s seven-month old government trailing Labor by four points after preferences, for the second time since being elected.

The Coalition now trails Labor by 4 percentage points on a two-party-preferred basis on 48 to 52 per cent, with the Greens primary vote rising sharply to a highest-ever share of 17 per cent.

It was therefore with some deal of obvious confusion that Mark Kenny wrote: Tony Abbott slumps in polls despite best week yet.

OMG, how could this be when Tony has shown “skills beyond his years”?

Best week yet? I am not sure how the week might have been Abbott’s ‘best’, perhaps because he failed to make noticeable forced and unforced errors. Abbott’s ‘best week yet’ must be by Mark Kenny’s own criteria, as it certainly doesn’t seem to be shared by an ever-increasing number of Australians.

Does Kenny believe that photo ops of Abbott swanning around ‘abroad’ wins the accolades, and that Australians believe that this will take people’s attention away from the threats contained in the forthcoming budget? Does Kenny think that photos of Abbott shaking hand with World Leaders might somehow give credence to his broken promises?

Kenny however does add a few ‘possible reasons’: “the surprise restoration of the royal titles of knight and dame; the furore surrounding the suspended Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos and his links with the disgraced Obeid family and the government’s divisive efforts to weaken racial anti-discrimination laws at the urging of a tiny but powerful group of shock-jocks and libertarian fundamentalists“.

Here is some assistance, some other items as to why ‘intelligent’, ‘people skills’, ‘direct’ Tony Abbott and the Liberals have once again faced a slump in the polls. Below is certainly incomplete.

  • “Long-term youth jobless rate triples”. A headline such as this, plus multiple headlines of ‘job losses’ and public service sackings do not add one iota to instilling any confidence.
  • Nationals MPs warn against ABC budget cuts – “. . .breaking a key election promise“. “. . .no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”
  • Thousands rally for refugees – “church-goers, activists come together for Walk for Justice for Refugees rally“.
  • Public servants will be urged to ­dob in colleagues posting political criticism of the Abbott government (Australians do not like ‘dobbers’ much less being threatened into having to do so).
  • . . .by abandoning the NBN and replacing it with a patched-together mish-mash of multiple technologies, Turnbull has settled for second or third best”. (As reported in The Australian; that one was a surprise criticism..nay, call it ‘a shock’).
  • Mr Downer joined the board (of a Victorian oil and gas company) 14 months ago as a representative of Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting. (It all becomes very incestuous doesn’t it). This might not be *Abbott’s fault*, but it is certainly indicative of who is pulling the strings of this government.
  • “I also want to stress that the government’s approach will be roads first, airport second. . .”. . .and ‘people’ the also-rans. Abbott also added a comment which would have perplexed most; he has promised a new airport with “no noise“. Abbott has now been accused of misleading the people of Western Sydney, ‘duped’ being the description.

Barely a day goes when there are not issues which will impact us for the rest of our lives. The media has not time to play this game of the Abbott government’s. But perhaps that’s the ploy, hit ’em so hard and so early, and with so much data that it’s impossible to keep track of what this government is deleting- cancelling – re-strateg-ising.

 1,162 total views