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“This Government’s budgets have been markedly better than the budgets brought down by their predecessor. They are more compassionate, and we see evidence of that in this budget, with more money for social housing and homelessness services, mental health, energy bill relief and superannuation for paid parental leave. But sadly it falls short of the Labor Budget the Treasurer promised, as it doesn’t meet the moment or adequately support those most in need.

“The Budget was a mixed bag for Tasmania in particular. Yes, any national program that helps the most disadvantaged does have a disproportionate benefit for Tasmania because of our heavy reliance on government support, and in particular income support. However there was little funding specifically for Tasmania and our pressing needs, for instance a refuelling option for RSV Nuyina and the urgent repair of Macquarie Wharf, went unmet.

“But this budget strikes me as having three fundamental flaws. For a start, there’s the budget trick of promising to deliver one of the biggest government programs, the Defence upgrade, way beyond the forward estimates where funding might be likened to an outback mirage. This is reminiscent of the Gillard Government putting much of the NDIS and Gonski funding beyond the reach of its budgets, making it all someone else’s problem.

“The thumping amount of money still to be siphoned to high-income earners also remains a problem. Yes, the Government’s decision to revamp the Stage 3 tax cuts is good. But for the wealthy, including federal politicians, to enjoy an annual tax cut of about four and a half thousand dollars is unconscionable and unaffordable. And although the Government promotes these tax cuts as the centrepiece of their cost of living relief package, the reality is they will be of no benefit whatsoever for those on extremely low incomes or income support. In other words, full aged pensioners, DSP recipients and the unemployed get nothing from the cuts. And yet again we have seen no meaningful increase to government pensions and payments.

“Moreover the Government has failed again today, like just about every other government in recent decades, to fundamentally re-engineer the Budget so it’s sustainable over the long term. Instead it’s kicked the can down the road, seemingly unfazed by the sea of red in the forward estimates. Fingers crossed that a growing economy, tax bracket creep and high commodity prices will save the day. But it’s quite possible they won’t, in which case critical expenditure like health, education, the NDIS, income support payments and the environment will all be increasingly underfunded in coming years. And that would be unforgiveable in a country as rich and fortunate as Australia.”