Tony Abbott’s plan to deregulate university fees, an idea borne out of the Liberals’ bizarre obsession with the disaster that is the U.S. Economy, is dead. The $5.5 billion the Liberals have cut thus far from universities, a full 20 per cent funding cut remains. As for Gonski funding, the measly $1.2 billion promised has pretty aptly been described as akin to stealing your tyres, offering one back and expecting thanks for the privilege of being robbed. This budget is bad for students and teachers.
But the biggest bombshells from the budget are surely the cuts to welfare. The freeze on an increase in funding to Medicare to keep up with inflation is actually in real terms a cut to funding. A massive cut, $925 billion dollars, which your local GP will either have to cop, or pass on to you for every visit to the doctor. Soon you may also become one of 900,000 disability support recipients to have their payments reviewed to assess capacity to work. As many of us have experienced, eligibility for disability support payments are already far too exclusive, rigid and callous.
If that doesn’t make you angry, Malcolm’s $750 milion employment package (‘PaTH’) sure should. Giving a boss the ability to hire you for 4-12 weeks on $4 an hour and be under no obligation to hire you at the end of it is bullshit. There’s no other word for it. Yes, it creates opportunity. Opportunity for the kind of mongrel that can look himself in the mirror knowing he’s paying someone four bucks an hour for their labour. In fact, if a business can pay $4 an hour for 4-12 weeks and receive a $1,000 up-front payment from the government as thanks, there is literally incentive for them to fire you when your time’s up and start the process all over again. The contempt that this policy shows for the poor is shocking, and it shows no vision to tackle youth unemployment.
It’s not all bad news, at least if you’re rich. But for the rest of us, this budget raises a lot of questions. How is it reasonable to decide that someone on 300k a year should receive a $2,600 tax cut while someone on $60k a year should be slogged with a $5000 cut to family payments? How is it reasonable that a business with an annual turnover of up to $10 million can be classified as a ‘small business’ for tax purposes? How is it reasonable that in 2016 we can have a budget with not one cent of new funding for renewable energy, in fact not even a mention?
You have to ask yourself, what planet does Malcolm Turnbull think he lives on? What future are we going to have after university if we re-elect a Liberal government? If that worries you as much as it worries me, make sure you’re enrolled to vote, and send us a message on Facebook if you want to get involved with Labor on campus.