Government turns its back on people who have the least, and guarantees more cuts to essential services

‘’The Government confirms its vision for our country is cuts, tax cuts for people who don’t need them, guaranteeing more cuts in future to essential services and our safety net for people who rely on them,’’ ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said tonight in response to the 2019 Budget.

The Government has announced a further $158 billion in tax cuts (plus an unknown cost from 2024 for cutting the 32.5% tax rate to 30%) on top of the $140 billion already legislated. Together this will deliver the largest tax cuts since the GST in 2000. The overall package gives the most dollars to people who already have the most, and offers people on the lowest incomes nothing:

  • People on $200,000 will get over $224 a week,
  • People on $50k will get $23 a week,
  • People on $25,000 (on pensions) get a one-off payment of $75 (equivalent to $1.40pw),
  • People on $15,000 (on Newstart) get nothing.

“None of the tax cuts benefit people on the lowest incomes, as one third of households, including low-paid workers, pensioners and people looking for paid work, do not have enough income to pay tax.

This Budget is the 25th in a row to refuse to deliver a real increase in Newstart.
In a mean-spirited move, people struggling on Newstart are even excluded from the token one-off cash payment of $75 to single pensioners ($125 for couples). The Government has once again turn its back on people who are going without food, unable to get their teeth fixed, trying to make ends meet on Newstart on $40 per day.
The unprecedented scale of these tax cuts also guarantees that many of the essential services people on low and middle incomes need will be cut in future, as they have been since 2014. People want to know that they can rely on schools, hospitals, child care, aged care and disability services and in the end that matters more to us than a sugar hit from tax cuts.

The budget does contain some welcome measures including $500 million for the Royal Commission into Abuse of People with Disability, an extra $80 million for young carers, $280 million for 10,000 home care packages for older people, $460 million for mental health, and the previously-announced $330 million in funding for domestic violence services.

These initiatives pale in comparison with the scale of need: the 3 million people in poverty, the crisis in housing affordability, the backlog of 100,000 aged care packages, the delays and under-spending on the NDIS, and the billions that need to be spent on mental and dental health.

It’s sad but telling that the Government has found just $5 million over 4 years to respond to the escalating crisis of suicide among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Far from dealing with these challenges, the Budget gets in the way by ripping another $158 billion from the public revenue base. We urge the Parliament to block any attempt to rush through the tax cuts in the final days before we go to an election, and instead commit to urgently increasing Newstart and Youth Allowance,” Dr Goldie said.