The Victorian Liberal government has taken to the state’s public sector with a razor blade and announced huge cuts in the 2012 budget.
Victorian TAFE institutes in particular will be hard hit. GippsTAFE chief executive officer Peter Whitely told ABC Radio that his institute faces a loss of 10% of its operating budget. TAFE courses that are not in high demand are expected to be slashed.
About 4200 Victorian public servants will now lose their jobs. This can only further exacerbate unemployment in Victoria, which is rising and is already over 6%. The budget cuts were quickly followed by the collapse of trucking company 1st Fleet and a loss of a further 1000 jobs.
Other measures include cuts to Victoria’s first home buyers grant, which will put people buying their first home up to $19,500 out of pocket. Despite rapid population growth in Victoria, only one new school has been announced in the budget, to be located in Geelong’s northern suburbs.
As well as cuts, the government will try more punitive measures to raise funds, such as increasing fines by 12.5%. It expects to make $662.5 million in fines next year.
Despite taking to the state with a razor and posting a $155 million surplus, Treasurer Kim Wells refused to rule out further job cuts, asset sales or privatisation.
What there is left to sell in the state is unclear, because since the 1990s, the Labour and Liberal governments have sold off public energy assets, public transport and public water and gas industries.
The Baillieu government has tried to paint the budget as one that will save manufacturing jobs, however the budget measures do not extend assistance to developing new industries or jobs.
But while “essential services” like education, transport and health care for all Victorians are being burned to the ground, the government has found the money for some truly vital social infrastructure — such as just under $80 million for the racing industry.
Racing minister Dr Denis Napthine assured the public that essential projects like upgrading the facilities at the Shepparton Greyhound track, and a mini desalination plant at Flemington racecourse, would not be interrupted.
As part of the racing industry package, $2 million has been allocated to “Living Legend” programs to facilitate the retraining, rehousing and alternative opportunities for greyhounds and thoroughbred horses that have reached the end of their careers.