The 2016-2017 budget aims to get the federal Coalition over the line on July 2, the expected double disillusion election date. Treasurer Scott Morrison's budget speech was a far cry from the last two “gloom and doom” budgets from Joe Hockey. But it contained significant cuts to essential services, health and education.
Climate change didn't rate a mention. But the government confirmed its previously announced cut to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which funds clean energy innovation.
Morrison talked up Australia's current economic growth rate, but added it was not a time to be "splashing money around" — at least to those who need it most.
Meanwhile, the corporate tax rate will come down as will the rate for small businesses — all of which will be paying the same 25% rate by 2027.
Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute said: “75% of the tax cuts in tonight's budget go to the top 10% of income earners ... nothing for the bottom 60%. I shit you not.”
Below are summaries from organisations representing workers and some of the poorest sectors of our society.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions
The budget Scott Morrison has handed down, on top of Joe Hockey's budget cuts, does the following:
Medicare: They have not reversed the cuts to Medicare, meaning we will have to pay more to see a doctor and for vital tests like x-rays, blood tests, ultrasounds and pap smears.
Our hospitals: Some $54.1 billion has been cut from our hospitals. This is a devastating amount of money and will cost us longer waiting times, fewer beds and less doctors and nurses.
Our schools: They have broken an election promise to provide the extra Gonski funding our schools need to ensure every child has a great education. They have effectively cut $54 billion from our schools.
University degrees: They have refused to rule out $100,000 university degrees and deferred a decision until after the election. On top of this, $4.7 billion has been cut from our universities.
Jobs: Their plan is jobs paying less than the minimum wage for young people, at $4 an hour jobs plus Newstart. There is no jobs plan while TAFE continues to be cut.
A fair tax system: Big corporations have been given huge tax cuts. Already 580 major companies pay no tax at all. All Scott Morrison did was close a few small loopholes, leaving the rest wide open.
People earning under $80,000 get nothing but cuts.
The damage has not been fixed and now the election will be a referendum on Medicare, hospital funding, $100,000 university degrees, Gonski schools' funding, jobs and a fair tax system.
The Anti-Poverty Network SA
Corporate tax rate: Lowered from 30% to 25% between now and 2026-2027.
Small business (defined as those with turnover of less than $10 million) will get an immediate tax cut from 28.5% to 27.5%.
Income tax cuts: For the top 25% of income earners.
There is little meaningful action on corporate tax avoidance, none on negative gearing or fossil fuel subsidies and only minor reforms to superannuation tax concessions exploited by high-income earners.
Some 30,000 people on the disability pension will undergo a payment review.
Higher education: $2 billion to be cut from the education budget and deregulation of the higher education system to be phased in over a longer period of time.
Slave wages for young people: Young unemployed people to work for private sector for 25 hours per week for up to 12 weeks at $4 per hour.
Cuts to community legal centres, youth mental health services and homelessness services.
Some 1100 community sector jobs to be cut.
Government to maintain restrictions on access to Family Tax Benefit payments.
Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT
Funding for Aboriginal legal services will be cut by nearly 6% by July 2017, with additional cuts planned each year after that.
Hewitt Whyman, ALS chair, says this with more than half of Australia's Indigenous population being under 20 years old, the cuts will badly affect thousands of children and families who are increasingly requiring legal assistance.
Gary Oliver, ALS CEO, says Western Australia is locking Aboriginal children up faster than the rate Black Americans are locked up. He added that Aboriginal legal services can barely keep up with states and Territory police rates of arrest, "now over the most minor of offences".
“The significant drop in funding ... will mean Australia's most poorest, more disadvantaged and most needy, will have to renege their right to natural justice before the courts ... [it] will mean a significant loss of key staff from our frontline services because everything we do is frontline.
“In NSW alone, we estimate some 4,800 Aboriginal men, women and children in one year alone will miss out on legal assistance, and with continued funding decreases over the next few years, even more will be turned away.
“This is made even worse when other legal assistance providers, such as Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres, are also facing federal funding cuts.
“Federal, State and Territory Attorney-General's have already acknowledged the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the criminal justice system.
“These significant cuts will mean more kids are locked up. This is not the time to return to 2013 funding levels."
National Council of Single Mothers and their Children
Even with some 600,000 Australian children already living in poverty, this budget contains $13 billion in cuts, including from family payments, income support for young people and paid parental leave.
A further $3 billion in cuts to payments and essential services, including cuts to Medicare, dental health and income support for people with disabilities.
National Teritary Education Union
The only plan the Abbott/Turnbull government has come up with for higher education is to cut funding and to make students pay more.
“Full” fee deregulation has been delayed, however, it contains a cut to education funding that amounts to 20% per student.
The acceleration of the HELP loan repayments remain live options. The risk of $100,000 degrees continues in the form of “Flagship Programs” for which universities may be able to charge a premium.