Govt Spruiks Fair & Measured Budget
Wednesday, 13th May 2015 at 9:36 am
The 2015 Federal Budget has been described by the Treasurer, Joe Hockey as being responsible, measured and fair; pointing to job seekers and families as the big winners.
Hockey told Federal Parliament he was expecting a Budget surplus in the next five years in a Budget that “unleashes opportunity”. The Treasurer moved away from last year’s dramatic Budget in which he claimed that the “era of entitlement is over”.
“The nation’s best days are ahead of us,” Hockey said in his 2015 Budget speech.
However, as far as the Not for Profit sector is concerned, the Government announced a $1 billion cut to foreign aid, cuts to paid parental leave against a $3.5 billion child care package and a capping of Fringe Benefit concessions to $5000 from $15,000.
The Treasurer announced $330 million in spending for youth employment programs. Earlier Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Budget was about “doing what’s right for these times”.
“The 2015 Budget is focused on growing jobs and helping small business innovate and grow. The $5.5 billion Jobs and Small Business package is the biggest small business package in our nation’s history,” Hockey told Parliament.
“From 1 July this year, small companies with annual turnover of less than $2 million will have their tax lowered from 30 per cent to 28 ½ per cent. Unincorporated business will get an annual 5 per cent tax discount up to $1,000.
The Government announced a $4.4 billion Families Package to “give parents more choice and opportunity to work”.
“The Government’s Budget reforms are aimed at strengthening our systems to ensure they are fair and sustainable. This applies to taxation, foreign investment, welfare and individual benefits,” Hockey said.
The Budget reveals that in 2015-16, the Government will spend $154 billion on welfare, which is around 35 per cent of total Government expenditure.
In response to the McClure Welfare Review the Budget will invest an initial $60 million to kick start the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation that will replace the existing welfare payment system.
“The 2015 Budget delivers over $20 million over four years towards the implementation of a new Investment Approach to welfare, focused on creating a better targeted and designed welfare system to assist people to move into work,” according to the Budget Papers.
Another $106 million will be spent on a jobs trial program around work experience to give 6000 people a chance at what the Government described as “genuine” work experience opportunities.
The Government has dropped its controversial youth unemployment scheme which stopped benefit payments for up to six months and returned the waiting time back to four weeks.
Welfare peak body ACOSS said the Budget shows some improvements in strategy, with a fairer approach to pension reform and increased investment in child care.
“But the overall package retains many harsh cuts from last year’s Budget and will leave many people on the lowest incomes worse off. The Budget also fails to stimulate investment in jobs growth,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.
“We were looking for the Government to chart a different path from last year’s divisive and unfair Budget. The pension changes, youth employment strategy and higher investment in child care show the way forward and are a welcome change of direction, reducing the Budget deficit without creating a fairness deficit."
Catholic Social Services Australia (CSA) warned that the Budget was designed to secure a political future, not the future of Australia’s most vulnerable people, deferring its critical 2015 Budget measures until after the next Federal election.
CSA CEO Marcelle Mogg said that many of the key measures in the 2015 Federal Budget, such as the childcare subsidy, were not scheduled to take effect until 1 July 2017.
“While deferring key budget measures might enable the Abbott Government to see out the remainder of its current term in calmer political waters, for Australia’s most vulnerable people it represents a lost opportunity,” she said.
“Those who are homeless, those with mental illness, and women and children living in the midst of family violence, need assistance now. This Budget offers them little hope.
“Funding for family violence is directed to one off education campaigns rather than practical support and initiatives.
“There is no commitment at all from the Federal Government for initiatives that create affordable housing or further homelessness services. The Budget is silent on mental health initiatives.
“The most vulnerable people in Australia will pay the price for the failure of the Coalition to exercise its mandate to govern.”
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said at the core of this Budget are the same cuts the public rejected last time: $80 billion cut from hospitals and schools; $100,000 university degrees; cuts to family payments.
“The Government has failed the test it set for itself – spending is up, deficits are up, unemployment is up,” he said.
“Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have broken their promise to families that they would not be hurt – this Budget is paid for by cuts to households’ budgets.
“[They] have broken their promise for no new taxes – this Budget contains 17 new taxes.
“Instead of focussing on the issues that concern ordinary Australians the most, this Government is focused on saving itself.”
Budget Papers "Fairness In Tax and Benefits" can be downloaded HERE.