It’s being labelled as one of the most unfair budgets in Australian history, targeting low-income families, pensioners and the sick.
United Voice members are angry at the Abbott Government increasing the retirement age to 70, cuts to family benefits and a $7 sick-tax to see a GP.
Delegate Geoff says the federal Budget is targeting people who are already struggling.
“It’s unfair because they said everyone was going to feel the pain but there’s more pain to the low paid than there is to the higher paid,’ he said.
“If there’s going to be pain to be had it should be spread all over not just to the disadvantaged.”
Geoff said that he would be directly affected by changes to costs in prescriptions, the fuel excise and being forced to pay $7 for a blood test.
Combined with the latest WA state budget, which included increases to fees and utilities, Geoff said people had been hit with a double whammy.
“They (the Liberal Government) just don’t believe in a fair go,” he said.
United Voice WA Secretary Carolyn Smith has branded the Abbott Government’s first Budget a brazen attack on the sick, pensioners and essential workers.
Ms. Smith said changes to Medicare, Newstart and the aged pension were aimed squarely at the low paid essential workers that are the back bone of the economy.
“This Budget is a regressive attack on the workers who power our economy,” Ms Smith said.
“A $7 ‘co-payment’ when you visit a doctor that goes back to the Government, is a tax by any other name.”
Increasing the Aged Pension to 70 also delivers enormous issues for essential workers that comfortable politicians might not encounter in their lives.
“If you work in an office, working until you’re 70 would be unfortunate,” Ms Smith said.
“But if you’re a hospital cleaner - bending, scrubbing and lifting... It’s a death sentence.”
Ms Smith said changes to the Newstart Allowance are also going to have consequences for young people under the age of 30 looking for employment.
Under new changes young people under 30 have to wait six months before being eligible to unemployment benefits.
Newstart’s ‘Six-month Sentence’ would send many workers to the wall, and opened up the prospect of mistreatment at work.
Ms. Smith said “If you’re a 28 year old women who has been working for 10 years and is mistreated at work, you may not have a choice but to stay, because any Newstart payments would be withheld for six months.
“These people just need an extra hand after tough times and if we don’t give them that, homelessness and crime could skyrocket.”
The Labor Opposition has vowed to oppose a number of the Budget’s reforms including the $7 GP Tax and the fuel excise increase.
The Facts: How will you be affected?
- The retirement age will be lifted to age 70 by 2035
- From September 2017, the Aged Care Pension will be increased only in alignment with CPI, not cost of living
- After July 1 this year pensioners on concession cards could lose as much as $2000 a year as the Federal Government has terminated the agreement with the states that subsidies travel, electricity, phone and council rates for concession card holders
- Young people reliant on Centrelink benefits will be 18.3 percent worse off as a result of the budget
- From January 2015, new jobseekers under 30 will have to wait up to six months before receiving unemployment benefits, and then will have to work for the dole
- From next year unemployed people under 25 will no longer qualify for Newstart and instead will have to apply for the lower benefit of Youth Allowance
GP TAX, HEALTH AND THE PBS
- From July 2015, the Government will introduce a $7 co-contribution payment for GP consultations and all out of hospital pathology
- States will be allowed to charge $7 for hospital emergency department visits
- Concession card holders and children will also pay the fee, capped to the first ten services
- From July next year the cost of each Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription will rise by $5 (from $37.70 to $42.70). Concession card holders will pay an extra 80 cents.
- From the 1st of August motorists will pay more, with the reintroduction of a biannual fuel excise indexation
- Someone earning three times the average wage will lose just 0.9 per cent of their take home income through the Deficit Levy. A high-income childless couple earning $360,000 a year will lose nothing whatsoever. In comparison, an unemployed lone parent with one 8 year old child loses $60 per week or 12 per cent.
- The most substantial cuts will involve those families who lose entitlement to FTB Part B, worth just over $3000 per year, when their youngest child turns six and is at school, though transitional arrangements will apply until July 2017. Low income lone parents will instead get a payment of $750 a year per child aged 6 to 12 years.
- The pain will be greatest for working- age people at the lowest income levels.