Responses to the Federal Budget

Since the Federal budget was handed down last week there has been a flurry of responses to the budget from a host of different commentators. It has been interesting to read through the responses and watch the variety of TV programming covering the budget and how various sections of Australian society are responding.

The most interesting response has been from commentators declaring the budget is an election budget. It’s interesting because the budget has not resulted in any significant boost for the Turnbull Government. What this budget has done is further highlight the Turnbull Government’s devotion to the big end of town with more tax cuts for big business who aren’t paying their fair share of tax. And it has further highlighted that the Turnbull Government does not consider health and education or taking care of our most vulnerable people as priorities.

Survey after survey has consistently shown over a couple of decades that Australians overwhelmingly want the government to deliver services and to deliver top quality services. Despite the never ending propaganda coming from conservative commentators and the Coalition about how tax cuts puts more money in our pockets; the reality is that with less taxation and more tax cuts for big business there will be fewer services delivered to Australians.

We saw out of this budget that healthcare costs will continue to spiral out of control for people on lower incomes as the freeze on Medicare rebates for pathology and diagnostic imaging continues while the gap fee continues to rise. These sorts of costs will ultimately force vulnerable people to make tragic choices between seeking the health care they need and paying the rent/mortgage or bills. For a nation as rich as Australia we should not have vulnerable people making these sorts of decisions which ultimately leads to a significantly diminished quality of life when we can afford to make healthcare truly universal by ending the private health insurance subsidies.

While the Turnbull Government has shown yet again it is more interested in looking after the big end of town, the Opposition Leader has chosen to focus on tax cuts for individuals and is promising to put more funding into education and health. The ALP has recognised the cuts to healthcare has made it more expensive for people to get the care they need and are putting off getting pathology tests done as the out-of-pocket expenses continue to grow larger. The ALP has also committed to making changes to our industrial relations system recognising the huge problem of wage theft. And there’s recognition of the impact that cuts to penalty rates have had and a commitment to reversing the cuts.

By just ending the rort that allows huge private health insurance companies to make money from Australian taxpayers, Australia can have a universal healthcare system able to deliver the care people need when they need it. Unfortunately this is something that the Coalition and ALP have not committed to do but would have a massive positive impact on delivering healthcare to all Australians, not just a few who can afford it.

The Union will be actively engaging in the upcoming state and federal elections to change the rules for working Australians.

Paul Elliott

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