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“Temporary” depends on who you are talking about

Each year, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) produces a budget analysis. In 2014 it was titled “A budget that divides the nation”.

Rather than bringing us together in a truly fair, shared effort, this budget entrenches divisions in our community: between young and old and those on high incomes and those struggling to make ends meet. It threatens to destroy the social safety net that has served this nation well – with severe cuts to essential areas such as health, disability support, income support, community services and housing programs. The budget will damage far more than it repairs.

Most of the pain will be felt by people on low incomes, young people, single parents, those with illness or disability, and those battling to keep a roof over their heads. These are the groups doing the ‘heavy lifting’ for the budget repair job.

We were told on election night that the new government would not leave anyone behind but the result of its first budget will be to plunge many of the most vulnerable people in our community into deeper levels of poverty.

Hockey had another go in 2015 but he certainly wasn’t floating all boats…or whatever that slogan was…

ACOSS estimates that, combined, the two budgets strip approximately $15 billion over four years from basic services and supports affecting low and middle income households, with total projected cuts of $80 billion from health and schools funding to the states over the next decade.

Our analysis suggests that low-income and disadvantaged families will be significantly worse off if the 2014-15 and 15-16 Budget measures pass.

This Budget should have begun the work to safeguard the social safety net into the future, by trimming unfair tax concessions for superannuation and reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks. Tax reform must be the next priority for responsible, fair and measured action.

Then along comes Malcolm on his white horse to save us, but he gives the job to Scott Morrison, the most political of animals, the most devoid of initiative and empathy, that he could find.

The new measures in the 2016-17 budget have little overall impact on the bottom line over the next four years. The biggest impacts come from measures announced in 2014 which this budget ‘locks in’, including $13 billion in unlegislated Commonwealth spending cuts, and cuts to health and school funding that were originally estimated to cost the States and Territories $80 billion over the next decade.

The staged reduction in business income taxes, together with a personal tax cut for individuals earning over $80,000, are estimated to reduce public revenue by $9 billion over the next four years and over $50 billion over the next ten years.

ACOSS warned, prior to this budget, that we cannot afford income tax cuts at this time. Our priority should be removing tax concessions and avoidance opportunities to secure necessary revenue.

The business income tax cuts are projected by Treasury to raise national income by 0.6% in 20 years’ time…maybe.

In December we will be subjected to the 7th fiscal statement from the Coalition and, judging by Christian Porter’s big scary number campaign, it will be the poor who bear the brunt yet again.

He is going to target a very select group of the unemployed (which for some reason includes young carers) and, with the help of insanely expensive actuarial studies, fix unemployment, the budget, and the world.

Unemployment payments represent only 7% of welfare payments, and the groups he is targeting are a miniscule proportion of that. I wonder how much the PickwalletsClean (PwC) actuarial study cost him….I mean us.

Rest assured, the “temporary freeze” on medicare rebates, family payment indexation, and the superannuation guarantee will remain, but the “temporary freeze” on politician’s wages and the “temporary levy” on high income earners will be/have been abolished on schedule. Politicians’ wages must increase to maintain the quality of representatives we have now (Lord knows the entitlements aren’t enough to cover….ummmm…trying to think of something they pay for themselves). And how much have the rich had to pay to accountants to keep their taxable income under $180,000? They have done their share of the heavy lifting…apparently.


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  1. MichaelW

    Spot on Kaye, you’ve nailed it again. Makes my blood boil.
    Off topic, but seeing as we are moving to a casual workforce from full time employment, I can think of no more people deserved of casual payments than our politicians… Politicians should be paid an hourly rate ie. payment for hours worked with a 20% loading to cover holiday and sick leave. Travel allowance for those who have to fly in fly out go economy class, business class upgrade, pay for it yourselves.

    Superannuation? Same as everybody else 9%, want extra, salary sacrifice… Retire from parliament? Wait until you are 65-70 years of age before accessing. your benefits same as the rest of us.

    We now have the most toxic unfair government in Australia’s history. The difference between Abbott/Hockey, Turnbull/Morrison is zero..
    Cuts, cuts and more cuts, to the most vulnerable people in our Country…. Oh, and tax cuts to the middle class and companies who pay bugger all tax anyway….

  2. Kaye Lee

    Every time you are told what we CAN’T afford, remember what this government CAN apparently afford

    We can afford to put our military on a war time footing by hugely increasing their strike force capability. The following figures come from the 2016 Integrated Investment Program which shows some of the proposed capital expenditure out to 2035:

    Maritime & Anti-Submarine Warfare >$151.35 billion

    Strike & Air Combat $55.66 billion

    Land Combat & Amphibious Warfare $76.38 billion

    Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, Electronic Warfare, Space & Cyber $26.794 billion

    Key Enablers $43.16 billion

    Air & Sea Lift $16.78 billion


    See your big scary numbers and raise you Mr Porter. If you are looking for savings, let’s start with the $1 trillion dollars you will spend over the next twenty years on defence, presumably on war games.


  3. Terry2

    Not to mention the fact that we seem to be quite happy to spend at least $175 million on an opinion poll on same sex marriage.

    Obviously there is no spending problem or budget emergency when it comes to coalition ideological priorities.

  4. king1394

    Guns or butter was the bald economic choice of classic economics as taught in high school in the 60s; obviously and simply if you have more of one there is less for the other. How many of our Federal politicians yawned their way through this model of economics and never either thought about it or learned other theories

  5. Freethinker

    I just wonder how low this government whill bring the standards of living and how many people including children need to be bellow the poverty line for them to say mission accomplice.

    The last Across report it is nothing to be proud of it and I hope that the media will bring this issue to the public for many days to come.

    A ‘national shame’: Acoss report reveals worsening poverty in Australia

  6. Kaye Lee

    We have had 25 years of uninterrupted growth and what have we achieved? Over 3 million people living in poverty. So where has all this growth gone? It has gone to the owners of capital, the investors, who apparently forgot that they were supposed to share the wealth. As their wealth has grown, wages have stagnated, unemployment benefits have not had a real increase since 1994, the superannuation guarantee scheduled increases have been taken away, penalty rates look like going – and now the government wants to give these same people yet another tax cut, paid for by taking money from those living in poverty.

    An interesting example pointed out by ACOSS – the government is removing the carbon tax compensation payments from welfare recipients but not from wage earners who still enjoy the increased tax free threshold.

  7. Jack Straw

    The Murdoch press demonises Welfare recipients on weekly basis and A Current Affair does a job on them Monthy they did another one this week. Called Dole Dobbers on 11th October. Tracy Grimshaw should hang her head in shame!


  8. Freethinker

    Kaye, the reality is that it is what people who believe that are in a secure job want.
    Union membership is all times low, government with neoliberalism ideology are voted in and those government have achieved to create division in society between those how have a little and those that have nothing.
    Greed and selfishness works in favor of the wealthy minority.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Our ‘national shame’: 730,000 Aussie kids living in poverty

    Just over 40 per cent of children being raised by a single parent live below the poverty line.


    So why the hell are we targeting them for budget savings? Imagine if we chose to have six submarines instead of 12, or 24 jets instead of 72, what we could do with that money. Imagine if we stopped paying the big four to produce reports that ACOSS will give you for free.

  10. townsvilleblog

    Beautifully put yet again Kaye, how long will it take for the everyday Aussie to realize that the wheels are falling off this government, and should they lose their job along with 1,101,000 other Aussies or be able to pick up a few hours but not enough to live on like 1,002,000 other Aussies there is bugger all left as a safety net under this nasty and cruel LNP government.

    Surely they care about their parents on the old age pension who are set to lose $4 per week for any new applicants for that pension. This LNP mob have as you have said robbed the public of $80 Billion, not million for public health, and as you have highlighted above 730 Australian children living in poverty, but they go ahead with submarines that will be hopelessly outnumbered when they are finally built and the stealth bomber that has already racked up a number of serious problems. It is obvious that the only way this mob think of “people” in is PAYE tax payers.

    The wealthy in Australia and the 1% of the global population who own the foreign multinationals operating in Australia who despite an income of billions each and every year pay ‘naught’ in income tax and have done so for many years, they are the only “people” that the LNP are concerned with. Why do working “people” vote for them?

  11. Miriam English

    The simple answer is that they don’t think we are important. We don’t matter. They see us as adding nothing to Australia, we people in poverty, we who are often on benefits. They completely miss the fact that almost all musicians, writers, artists — those who actually create our culture — live in poverty. And most of use die in poverty, with our creations selling for obscene amounts after we die.

  12. mark

    I do think our humanity is lost,through our degradation of love and work.mark

  13. Kaye Lee

    Also the carers who, if they stopped doing what they are doing, would cost the nation a fortune. The role they play is hugely undervalued. This ridiculous notion that we should move the pension age to 70 ignores the caring role that many retirees play and only makes it harder for young people to get a start.

    If the government adopted a policy of “Buy Australian” and stopped outsourcing services to companies who immediately move them offshore, we might go some way towards getting people into jobs.

  14. Divergent Aussie

    “We have had 25 years of uninterrupted growth and what have we achieved?” But the GDP growth per capita has been relatively stagnant compared to overall GDP. This is a result of the “Big Australia” fantasy that Australia can grow to 100 million people by the end of this century. See http://www.tradingeconomics.com/australia/gdp and http://www.tradingeconomics.com/australia/gdp-per-capita. While GDP per capita has increased by roughly 60% since 1991 GDP has gone up by roughly 400%. So something has not been trickling through. On the other hand Japan’s GDP has been sort of stagnant but bouncing about in the same period. GDP per capita on the other hand has risen steadily and slightly slightly by about 20%. Why is this? Because Japan’s population is falling and in spite of what the doomsayers are saying they are coping with an aging population. This is also compatible with climate change policies. Australia, being the driest continent on earth, should take note. Aridness and climate change are not compatible with a large population.

  15. Terry2

    Interesting program on ABC RN on the subject of a ‘Universal Basic Income ‘


    Basically, if you start with the premise that our society / societies will never be able to provide meaningful adequately remunerated full time employment for future generations and if we acknowledge that private enterprise is committed to reducing payrolls by offshoring jobs to low labour cost countries or by mechanising jobs formerly done by human beings. Then we need to start thinking about how we will in the future ensure that all members of our society will receive an adequate income to allow them to thrive and consume.

    Clearly, reducing corporate taxes and hoping that there will be some sort of magic pudding trickle-down effect is crazy: corporations will – as they must, it’s in their DNA – seek to use the tax savings to further mechanise their business functions at the expense of employing people. Or as with Telstra and I notice, my insurance company, who have already offshored customer services or back-office functions as they like to call them to India or the Philippines, they are unlikely to bring those jobs back to Australia just because they have a tax cut.

    We need to start planning for a very disruptive future and make sure we have the government to provide the vision and policies and we ain’t there yet !

  16. Kaye Lee

    Exactly Terry2.

    Technology could make almost 40 per cent of Australian jobs, including highly skilled roles, redundant in 10 to 15 years, a new report has found.

    The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) report highlighted the need for more funding and a cooperative approach to prepare for huge changes in the workforce.

    Almost five million jobs face a high probability of being replaced in the next two decades, while a further 18.4 per cent of the workforce had a “medium probability” of their jobs being eliminated, the report found.

    CEDA estimated that in December 2012, of the 11.5 million Australians employed nationally, about 28 per cent had jobs that involved driving.

    Australian driving jobs:
    Commercial vehicles (excluding motorcycles) 3,266,521
    Commercial motorcycles 10,000
    Train drivers 11,900
    Total: 3,288,421

    If all vehicles become autonomous in the next 20 years, the report said, those jobs would need to change as the “human skill of driving a vehicle is no longer an essential part of the job”


  17. Kaye Lee

    Divergent Aussie,

    Our fertility rate is less than replacement level. In general, the higher the standard of living, the more educated people are, the less children they tend to have. Education and lifting people out of poverty will go a long way towards population control. The Pope could help out too by changing the church’s archaic rules about contraception and abortion.

  18. Freethinker

    And the reaction to the report from the government is:
    ‘Welfare mentality’ must end: Coalition responds to report on rising poverty

    I just wonder how many people in the electorate agree with the government on this.
    The attitude of “I am Ok bugger you Jack” rules in our society.
    I have to stop reading the news and be involved in political issues, they depress me a lot, no because the government that we have but because the attitude of the people.

  19. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    The stupidity of the idea of taking money from the best consumers to give to the worst consumers, and then expect the economy to actually grow defies logic. But we are preaching to the choir.

    It is simply some weird biblical punishment fetish that these people are acting out. You are sick, unemployed, poor etc because somehow you have done something to piss God off, so your existence must be as joyless and penitent as possible. It is disturbingly medieval.

  20. Florence nee Fedup

    Seems we are now seeing the results of Abbott’s budget. Yes poverty is growing. One can’t take benefits from low income people and not expect them to be worse off. The first to suffer are the children.

    Surely this is not the aim of this government? Or is it?

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    Raising a country’s standard of living always lower birth rate. Happens quickly.

  22. diannaart

    …and the LNP are still blaming Labor and the Greens, well anyone left of centre who may have had some political involvement since… 1972, probably before that, but we used to have a MSM made up of several independent proprietors instead of Sauron (one paper to bind them all) Murdoch.

  23. totaram

    I would like to know what our ADF is doing in Iraq and now in Syria (even though not invited by the Syrian govt.), and how much that costs. I am sure that money could bring all the kids out of poverty in a trice, (for those who worry about “budget repair”).

  24. Kaye Lee


    The Government has agreed to additional funding of $752.7 million in Budget 2015 16 and $802.4 million over the Forward Estimates. Including previously approved funding, this takes the total Operations funding to $910.7 million in 2015-16 and $1,071.8 million over the Forward Estimates.

    Iraq (Operation Okra)
    Operation Okra is the Australian Defence Force’s military contribution to the United States-led international coalition. It aims to disrupt and degrade the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq and assist the Iraq Security Forces in regaining control of their own country.

    The Government has agreed to additional funding of $359.8 million in Budget 2015 16 and $381.6 million over the Forward Estimates. Including previously approved funding, this takes the total funding to $390.8 million in 2015-16 and $418.3 million over the Forward Estimates.


    The last budget did not allocate all that much funding for future operations. See Table 4


  25. totaram

    Thanks, Kaye. Revealing, as always. Only to be expected. And I saw Sinodinos briefly on TV talking about “budget repair” in response to the report about kids in poverty. If you can get hold of a copy of New Scientist, find out what poverty does to kids. Some of the damage is irreparable, as you might expect.

  26. JohnB

    @Terry2 October 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm
    Bill Mitchell has written an in depth analysis of a Universal Basic Income vs Job Guarantee.

    I found the ABC doco. couched in neoliberal economic terms – in assuming the taxpayers must fund it etc.
    It includes of course the seemingly mandatory ‘expert’ from the IPA (with unknown qualifications), with no reference to Australia’s Bill Mitchell who has spent 30 or more years researching/developing/proposing a universal Job Guarantee program.

  27. Matters Not

    Yes I also listened to the Radio National discussion this morning and also followed up on the links provided. It also struck me that the MMT ‘common sense’ wasn’t even on the radar. All talk about what UBI would do to ‘deficits’ and the like. No discussion about the wasted labor capacity sitting idle and the like.

    Goodness gracious, this MMT ‘concept’ is so corrupting. LOL.

  28. Divergent Aussie

    Re ” the higher the standard of living” see comment by Gareth Aird “He said “headline” economic figures, fuelled by immigration and mining exports, were instead hiding the fact that Australian living standards were being eroded.” from population-growth-gives-australians-misleading-picture-of-economy. “He believes closer attention should be paid to real net national disposable income per capital that is a more accurate reflection of living standards. This only just turned positive, after a four-year period where it was falling.”

  29. win jeavons

    How are all those children now living in poverty going to afford their schooling, needed to get a job ? It seems that now every child MUST have a computer , an expensive uniform( costing much more because they “must” have a school logo ) rapidly changing texts etc. Poor children in former times had far fewer costs and could buy 2ndhand books very cheaply. In fact in the 70’s some schools had no uniform, and the school provided the only computers. Then when these kids look for work they must have a phone and laptop to hunt for it . As a retired teacher I don’t think we are treating these young ones fairly.

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