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The Budget at a (very quick) glance

UnitingCare Australia’s National Director was invited to an early preview of the Federal Budget in the Treasury Budget lock-up in Canberra yesterday.

Here are her notes and initial evaluation:

“Overall Budget direction solid – it delivers in spades for job creation and for major infrastructure investment – but despite the rhetoric, there’s very little for Australia’s most disadvantaged (or for the services that support them)."

Here, in my mind, are the key items in the Budget:

• Billions allocated to road, rail and ports but little investment in community services organisations
• Viability of community service organisations has not been addressed
• No ‘social dividend’ attached to infrastructure measures (so many building sites but no requirement to take on the long term unemployed)
• No coherent social inclusion strategy or spend
• Welcome increases to the age and disability pensions and to carers but nothing for single parents and those on Newstart
• Age pension access age raised to 67 (will phase in over a couple of years)
• Base rate for age pension now around $318/week; for single parents it’s just $285 and for those on Newstart it’s a very meagre $227
• Decrease in FTB A indexation: MTAWE (male average weekly earning) to CPI. This is a very significant ‘structural adjustment’ that will slow the increase in the FTB A over time.
• Introduction of Paid Parental Leave – HISTORIC, FANTASTIC, ABOUT TIME! Broad base, built in review after three years, flexible.
• Increase to Education and Training supplement – targeting those with sub year 12 education – $41/fortnight
• Bill Shorten got his disability employment pilot up – getting employers to sign up for employing someone with a disability
• Estimates that stimulus measures have cut the overall rate of unemployment 1.5% – this macro effect will protect a substantial number of Australians from unemployment and its devastating consequences
• Targeted reductions in super cap for higher income earners
• Extension of drought relief
• Reduction in private health rebate and increase in Medicare surcharge
• Commitment to green collar jobs”