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'Labor-lite' budget's social welfare report card

  • 10 May 2017


The 2014 Federal Budget will be remembered as one of the most punitive in recent history — one that will be forever linked to images of then-Treasurer Joe Hockey smoking a cigar as his Budget sought to make young unemployed people wait up to six months to access Newstart, among other measures that were harmful to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

In contrast, the 2017 Federal Budget delivered by Scott Morrison has been cautiously welcomed by many, prompting ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales to ask the Treasurer on national TV 'Could you be the first Liberal Treasurer in history to deliver a Labor budget?'

'Labor-lite' or not, there are many investments contained in the budget which will work towards a more just society.

The securing of funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme by raising the Medicare levy is a critical investment into all Australians, and will improve services for people with disabilities, their families and carers. Likewise, a needs-based approach to school funding, 'Gonski 2.0', will ensure students in disadvantaged areas get better opportunities to access quality education — the foundation of a positive start in life.

A series of reports into locational disadvantage produced by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia, Dropping Off the Edge, has shown that areas where children and young people have limited access to education are also overburdened by multiple, complex forms of disadvantage such as housing stress, long-term unemployment and criminal convictions. This has been acknowledged in the fact that the schools, and the communities, most in need of funding will have better access to it.

In line with Closing the Gap targets around employment, the Government will commit $55.7 million over five years to boost Indigenous employment.

One of the most crucial factors in this package is a $17.6 million investment for employment assistance for Indigenous people exiting prison. The over-representation of Indigenous people in our prison system is a national disgrace and efforts to strengthen employment opportunities for people leaving the system are the most effective way to prevent re-offending and strengthen opportunities for people to reach their potential.

But among these commitments that seek to create a more equitable Australia, this budget again seeks to vilify welfare recipients, among the most vulnerable members of our community.


"Cutting off payments will only place already vulnerable people at heightened risk of committing crimes, of losing their housing, of mental health and other health issues being