Tonight the Federal Government handed down a budget that entrenches inequality at the same time as rewarding corporations. The message from Canberra is clear: Don’t be poor. Don’t be unemployed. Don’t be vulnerable.
This Budget attacks those in our community who need the most support. The proposed changes to welfare would introduce a demerit points system and random drug testing. It would force many off government support making them dependent on already underfunded community services simply to survive. It would see our members in many community services, particularly employment services, police the very people they are trying to support.
Rather than a hand up, this Government wants to kick people while they are down.
Putting a price on community services
Just weeks ago the Turnbull Government announced it would restore funding to community and Aboriginal legal services. Tonight we discovered that this funding will now be “outcomes based” but with no specification on these outcomes, and targeted to certain vulnerable populations with others not included.
This new “outcomes based” model has also been rolled out in homelessness funding, where NPAH and NAHA funding will be merged and maintained but only if outcomes are met - but again no outcomes have been specified.
In homelessness and affordable housing the Turnbull Government will introduce social impact bonds which guarantee profit for private investment in services to vulnerable people. Yes - the Government will guarantee a profit to corporations who want to set up providing services in our sector.
And just to top it off, foreign aid funding has decreased for five years in a row - the lowest aid budget ever to support vulnerable people beyond our shores.
Disability, aged care and mental health
In a move that is ignorant at best and offensive at worst, the Turnbull Government will seek to integrate the Disability, Aged and Mental Health sectors. ASU members know the needs of people in these sectors vary incredibly and require person-centered responses not one size fits all.
Just $10 million a year will go towards a so called workforce strategy for the entire NDIS and Aged Care sectors yet, at the same time, the Budget announced $209 million for a new NDIS Commission to monitor and police frontline workers in the sector.
Local government, energy & other industries
The Budget provides for long overdue injection of funds for local government by resuming indexation of Financial Assistance Grants to local government to the tune of $836m over the forward estimates. Also $4.4bn is assigned to Roads to Recovery.
Rail: $20bn is set aside for national rail programs including inland rail.
Energy: But there is NO money for Just Transition for workers who have been displaced in the energy industry.
...but of course, more money for more corporate tax cuts
While the most vulnerable are being punished, while workers are being policed, the big end of town has maintained its billions in tax cuts.
Equality is union business
Instead of good policy, where individuals and corporations pay their fair share for a fair society, this Government has played the politics of blame with vulnerable people and the essential community services they rely on.
Tonight we are asking you to stand up and fight back. Help build our union movement so we can fight inequality, fight for justice and demand dignity and respect for all in our community.
Please share this news with at least one person who should be a union member but hasn't joined us - yet. Ask them to join us as we fight for something better - a fairer society based on equality: www.asu.asn.au/asujoin