Federal Budget a lost opportunity

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Joe Hockey delivers the 2015 Budget Speech

Is this the Budget you have when you’re not having a Budget?

The most remarkable thing about this Budget, in contrast with Prime Minister Abbott’s promise of a fair Budget, is that so much of it relies on the re-election of a Coalition Government in 2016. Is it fair to make vulnerable Australians wait that long?

This Budget is designed to make the Government a small target until after the next election.

Many of the key measures in the 2015 Federal Budget, such as the Child Care Subsidy, are not scheduled to take effect until 1 July 2017. Despite its pledge to listen to the community following its horror 2014 Budget, the Coalition has retreated to its corner, deferring critical initiatives until after the next Federal election.

While this might enable the Abbott Government to see out the remainder of its current term in calmer political waters, it represents for Australia’s most vulnerable people a lost opportunity.

Those who are poor will pay the price for the failure of the Coalition to exercise its mandate to govern. This is a Budget calculated to secure a political future for the Government at the expense, again, of Australia’s most vulnerable people.

Those who are homeless, those with mental illness, women and children living the midst of family violence need assistance now. This Budget offers them little hope. For example, although the Abbott Government has stated that it wants to focus on reducing family violence, the absence of specific measures to increase affordable housing stock and extend homeless support services in this Budget means that women and their children remain at risk. The Government’s focus on community education is a welcome initiative but it won’t help people living in situations of violence now.

There is no commitment at all from the Federal Government to create more affordable housing or alleviate homelessness. The Budget is silent on the Government’s response to mental health services.

The annual Federal Budget process provides a significant opportunity to invest in communities, families and individuals in order to strengthen social cohesion, participation and wellbeing, and increase economic productivity. My organisation, Catholic Social Services Australia, continues to urge the Government to focus on investing in people, in families and in communities in order to realise long-term social and economic benefits rather than seeking short-term cost savings.

Australians are looking for a sustained commitment from Government to create strong communities, not just a strong economy.  

One pleasing measure is the restoration by the Government of funding to provide intensive support services to young people at high risk of long term unemployment.  Having curtailed the Youth Connections program in 2014, the Youth Employment Strategy represents a welcome recognition by Government that many young people struggle to negotiate a complex, highly competitive market with few entry level jobs available.  Supporting young people to gain entry to employment is the surest way to promote the social and economic participation of people through the course of their adult lives.

Similarly, while the Government’s focus on supporting parents into employment is welcome, the execution of the policy is clumsy. People want to be able to work and secure a sound financial base for their families, but they also recognise that this cannot, and should not, be at the expense of family life.

Family friendly jobs are those that don’t rely on mums and dads working unsociable hours that take them away from the families they love. Family friendly jobs are not those across town, or interstate on a fly-in fly-out basis that see mums and dads spending more time in transit than with their kids. Policy settings that encourage the payment of low wages, short-term contracts and requirements to work unsociable hours without penalty rates are not the jobs that build a strong Australia.

The absence of targeted assistance for housing and homelessness services in the Budget is deeply concerning. Housing and homeless support agencies are already facing increasing demand to meet the needs of people who are homeless. The Government needs to recognise that access to safe and affordable housing is foundational to the capacity for individuals and families to secure employment, raise children and participate in the life of the community.

It is not acceptable that Government delays providing any immediate housing and homeless support, while   it develops its position on housing and homelessness through its Reform of the Federation White Paper process,

The Government’s own test for the 2015 Federal Budget was that it would prove to be fair, turning around the unfairness of the 2014 Budget.  But fairness requires investment in those who are most vulnerable, and most in need of support. This Budget fails that test.


Marcelle MoggMarcelle Mogg is CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia.

 

 

 

 

Topic tags: Marcelle Mogg, economics, politics, Joe Hockey, Federal Budget

 

 

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Existing comments

Blunt, eloquent, cutting right through blather and saying what is -- Marcelle Mogg is a terrific contributor here. In the same way I trust a Martin Flanagan, I am delighted to be edified by sharp comment from someone who knows.
brian doyle | 13 May 2015


It might be a bit early to draw any conclusions at all about this budget. Very few of the headline items in last year's budget actually eventuated. There is no reason to imagine this year will be any different, is there?
Alan Austin | 13 May 2015


Well as predicted there is little substance in this budget. What happened to the budget emergency?? A re-election budget is all it is. Failure to address the tax problems and unfairness in superannuation, as well as lack of support for the people in crisis. It's another big disappointment.
Kate | 13 May 2015


Thank you! How clear this is! I would be interested to know just how much the Politician 'Leaners" are forgoing from their 'perks' while in Parliament and when they leave this establishment. Perhaps they could lead the way to demonstrate how they are aware of the way they burden ordinary citizens when they hold on to their good fortune. IS this too much to ask?????Judith L
Judith Lawson | 13 May 2015


Do we know if the government will provide the $230 million it pledged to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness(NPHA). It announced it would do this in March this this year. Now that the budget has arrived, do we know if they have kept to their word ??? Also how has this budget made things better/worse/or the same for homelessness funding ?
Jai | 13 May 2015


Budget 2015 is Abbott govt's re-election policy platform. The backlash in the media & Senate opposition to its bad policy measures will set up a double dissolution scenario for Tony Abbott, if he is game enough to bring it on. For the benefit of poorer & struggling Aussies, let us hope he does so & then hope that he loses government.
John Cronin, Toowoomba Q | 13 May 2015


What does this look like ? Joe Hockey has stayed in a Canberra home owned mainly by his wife for over 4 years, earning over $100,000 as of a year ago. He gets $270/night living allowance to do so & says "it is legitimate". Looks like Double Dipping to most Australians, I'd say.
John Cronin, Toowoomba Q | 14 May 2015


When there is a high unemployment rate because of sluggish economy no amount of incentivisation will work. If the jobs are there and they are fairly paid the workers will appear.
Bruce Hare | 14 May 2015


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