Our Opinion

Government announces a YES BUT Budget

Early this week, the Federal Government released what PeakCare regards as a YES BUT Budget. Read through the following list of YES BUT budget items generated by PeakCare. Add your comments about whether you agree or disagree with the items that PeakCare has listed and perhaps add some of your own.

YES, the planned $158 billion worth of tax cuts may help in bringing the budget back into the black and, as the Government would argue, promoting economic growth, BUT at what cost in missing opportunities to boost investment in essential social services?

YES, the tax cuts may help in alleviating cost of living pressures for many, BUT they will carry no discernible benefits to pensioners with no income or the unemployed who experience cost of living pressures more than most. Moreover, the lowest earners will receive the least benefit from these cuts. Middle-income earners will do better with families with a combined income of around $90,000 reaping the benefits of the highest tax offset. This does little to alleviate the stress being experienced by parents and carers who are struggling to care for their children safely and well in the midst of poverty. Additionally, in allowing the tax offset to be claimed only when a tax return has been lodged, this will not permit families to match the ‘extra cash in their pockets’ with their expenditure patterns throughout the year.

No YES, BUTS or MAYBEs about this – the failure to increase the rate of Newstart payments is simply shocking! There have now been 25 consecutive budgets that have not provided for an improvement in the Newstart rates which remain at about 60% of the value of the Age Pension.

YES, pleasingly the budget allocates $80 million for services to carers, young carers in particular, which include educational resources, peer support, phone-based counselling and payments of up to $3,000 for planned respite, education and training.

No YES, BUTS or MAYBEs about this – the allocation of $128.8 million for an expansion of the Cashless Debit Card Scheme trials is strongly opposed by PeakCare on the basis that there is no evidence of this scheme benefitting the individuals, families and children who are made subjects of the scheme.

YES, the allocation of $328 million for a national plan to reduce violence against women and children, $78.4 million for ‘safe places’ for victims of domestic and family violence, $82.2 million for improved ‘front-line services’ and $35 million to improve support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in remote areas who are at risk of violence including ‘practical intervention’ for those who perpetrate this violence was welcomed news, BUT we will leave it for the domestic and family violence sector to comment further on how this additional funding is best spent.

YES, pleasingly the budget allocates a continuation of $453 million for a further year to extend preschool education that will allow 350,000 children to receive 15 hours of quality early learning per week, BUT this entails no changes to policy around early childhood education and care or increases in recurrent funding responsive to calls from within this sector for support to enable children to access two years of preschool which, according to the evidence, has significant benefits to children’s cognitive, social and emotional learning.

YES, the budget provides for a $30M investment in a social housing initiative, the Hobart City Deal, that will allow for the construction of 100 dwellings, BUT there remains no comprehensive and overarching housing strategy with only a small increase from $4.4 billion to $4.6 billion to the funding allocated for Commonwealth Rent Assistance to cater for CPI indexation and an increase in the numbers of people accessing this assistance. No funding increase has been allocated to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement which will do nothing to alleviate the unmet needs of people on waiting lists for specialist homelessness services.

No YES, BUTS or MAYBEs about this – the allocation of $7.8 million to establish a child sex offender register is strongly opposed by PeakCare with no evidence to support that this will achieve the desired outcomes – this money could be far better spent.

PeakCare does not pretend that the above is an exhaustive list. Please provide your comments about any or all of the above items and feel free to add to the list.

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