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Shifting the Deck Chairs

May 10, 2017

An overdone truism, but one that has been bandied around since the release of the budget last night. 

As I read the opinion pieces in the papers today, it was clear that commentators perceive a number of initiatives which need to be affirmed, as well as titanic gaps that can’t be ignored. The belief that this is a pre-election budget is clear.

Some of the Positives

  • Infrastructure spending – on the Snowy, Western Sydney airport, and railways – some funded by taxes on the banks
  • Greater expenditure on health and education (but with questions and concerns)
  • Funding for the National disability Insurance Scheme.

Some Negatives

  • Rising costs of university fees and the requirement to pay back HECs loans as soon as income reaches $42,000
  • Continuing targeting and scapegoating of people on welfare, with no increase to Newstart or other welfare payments
  • Failure to initiate taxation reform needed for any real change in housing affordability.

Major Concerns

  • Absolutely no mention of climate change, global warming or renewables
  • Continuing major cuts in foreign aid and shrinking assistance to the poorest people across the planet, dishonouring us as a nation
  • No acknowledgement of the enormous millions poured into maintaining the ongoing shame of Australia’s offshore detention centres
  • No attempt to address the continuing disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As the details of the budget become clearer, we will need to examine once again the Government’s claim that this is a budget of ‘fairness, opportunity, security'.

We know that the gap between rich and poor is increasing in Australia. We know that significant changes need to be made to the tax system if there is to be greater fairness. We know that climate change is destroying earth. We know that Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru is and Manus Island is cruel and unequivocally condemned by the United Nations. We know that disadvantage continues to be the reality for Indigenous Australians.

This week of Budget 2017, Foyster’s comment has added significance for me.

‘Is it all just too troubling to think about?’  Or can I take action, by myself or in community with others?

Jan Barnett rsj