The Federal Budget goes some way to improving the situation in a myriad of important areas like Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, energy bill relief, aged care and Commonwealth Rent Assistance. The $498m to address vaping and smoking is especially welcome considering the sky rocketing rate of deadly vaping in schools and colleges in the Clark electorate.
The Budget’s welfare and health investments are especially important for Tasmania because, regrettably, we remain the country’s sickest, oldest and most disadvantaged state population. Also welcome is the inclusion of funding for Hobart Airport.
But the Budget forward estimates also reflect the enormous festering sore that is the planned Stage 3 personal income tax cuts. Unfathomably the Government remains firmly committed to the cuts, due to start in the 2024-25 financial year, despite them being such an outrageous handout to Australia’s most wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Remember Stage 3 will cost the Budget more than $20bn in the first year, rising to $31bn by 2030 and increasing indefinitely beyond then. And the most junior federal parliamentarian will pocket some $9,000 in their pay packet alone. That’s unconscionable.
The Budget also contains funding for Tasmania’s Macquarie Point AFL stadium despite it being opposed by state Labor, federal Liberal, Greens, Jacqui Lambie Network, Independents and the vast majority of the community. Why on earth the Federal Government thinks it’s a good idea to build the State’s third AFL stadium, in sight of one of the others and with just 3,000 more seats, when Tasmanians are confronting so many challenges including health and housing truly beggars belief. You couldn’t make it up. It’s just bizarre.
The scandalous wastage on the tax cuts and AFL stadium, not to mention other potential savings, would go some very considerable way to increasing government pensions and payments to more effective levels. For example, even with the increases announced tonight, Jobseeker is still way below the poverty line and Commonwealth Rent Assistance remains woefully inadequate, especially in places like Hobart which holds the unenviable title of Australia’s least affordable rental market. Moreover the GP Medicare rebate is languishing at half its real value compared to when it was introduced, ensuring that Australia’s chronic shortage of GPs will continue for the foreseeable future.