Our Federal Budget Expectations
In the lead up to Tuesday’s Federal Budget the following are the suggested government initiatives which have been released over the past two weeks which Samaritans opposes:
- Cuts to funding for Emergency Relief and Financial Counselling services – As the major provider of such services in our region we would have to turn people away for the first time in our 30 year history.
- Relocation of unemployed young people (compulsory relocation of unemployed young people under threat of loss of benefit) – This is really risky if a long term unemployed person has not had recent work experience or obtained a vocational qualification. Compulsory relocation of young people before they are equipped to deal with the move is likely to lead to an increase in homelessness.
- Increase to petrol levy – This would disadvantage low income people living in regional Australia or on the fringes of cities. These are the areas which have very poor public transport so the levy would cause much more hardship to low income people than to more affluent Australians who tend to live in urban centres these days, close to services, employment and facilities.
- NDIS – we oppose any delay in the rollout of this scheme across Australia. People with disabilities have waited long enough.
- Review of young people under 35 in receipt of disability support pension – Samaritans currently supports about 100 people in this situation and I know they’d all love to have a paid job if one was available, and so would their families. But is this review about providing more opportunities or is it about cutting income where possible?
- Co-payments for GP visits – Many people we support will no longer visit their GP if the free bulk billing option is removed. They might well seek medical help when their condition is life threatening at a state hospital emergency department, but this could be too late.
- Transfer of responsibility for affordable housing to the states – the lack of affordable housing in Australia, much of which is caused by our ever-increasing population, calls for a response from the Federal Government, not just the states.
On the other hand what Samaritans would welcome in the Federal Budget is the introduction of a tax levy for high income earners, a closure of tax loopholes for high income earners (including superannuation) and much more emphasis on restoring the Federal Government’s income rather than focusing on this short-sighted option of cutting services and support to people on low incomes.