federal budget

For years the federal budget has been brutal on refugees and asylum seekers. Each year for the past two decades, visa places have been cut or made more difficult to gain, and services and rights to appeal are cut. The rights of people seeking protection in Australia are slowly eroded while detention centres get bigger and bigger budgets. Now, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have revealed a budget that takes the war on refugees to new heights — with a newly merged border control agency, more patrol boats and the axing of independent oversight of refugee processing.
Protest the Tony Abbott government's killer budget at marches on Sunday May 18: Brisbane: 1pm, Queens Park, City
Sydney: 1pm, Belmore Park, City (next to Central Station)
Melbourne: 2pm, State Library of Victoria, City
Hobart: 1pm, Parliament Lawns, City
Adelaide: 11.30am, Victoria Square, City
Perth: 12 noon, Russell Square Park, Northbridge
Read Green Left's coveragge of the federal budget
I had a heart attack when I was just 55. It was a surprise and a shock. I'd never smoked, was not a big drinker and wasn't carrying too much weight. It was probably a genetic predisposition to heart disease. That was six years ago. Last week I went through the annual tests and consultation with the cardiologist and was told I'm “doing very well” thanks to exercise, a supportive family and the public, universal healthcare system we have in Australia.
And so it begins — an offensive, on behalf of the Australian ruling class and corporate interests, to steal the future from the majority of Australians, to dismantle what remains of our social welfare system, in order to carry out, in the words of Treasurer Joe Hockey, "the government's solemn duty ... to build a stronger Australia".
Radical changes to university and TAFE education were announced in the federal budget on May 13. These changes include removing the cap on university fees and changes to welfare payments. People under 25 are no longer eligible for the Newstart allowance. Treasurer Joe Hockey said the theme of the budget was "contribution and building" and "sharing the pain", but it will make it even tougher for struggling families.
There is a lot of hype about so-called pain in this budget, and sure, not everyone comes out a winner. But, basically, as long as you are not a young person or an old person, you should be fine. Or a middle-aged person who plans on getting old. Or a public servant. Or a farmer. Or someone who wants to study at university, or who owes money from past study.
"The Abbott government's proposed $7 co-payment for visits to the doctor, and for other medical services, will effectively destroy Medicare as a universal, bulk-billed health service for the community," Erima Dall, spokesperson for the Sydney Save Medicare Committee said on May 14. "The government is also opening the way for the states to charge an up-front fee for previously free treatment at public hospitals, in the expectation that people will be forced to turn to the emergency departments because of the GP co-payment. 
Unions have slammed many aspects of the Coalition budget, released on May 13. Below, leaders of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Community and Public Sector Union respond. *** GED KEARNEY, PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS "The Abbott government's assault on welfare, Medicare, education and the public sector represents the end of the fair go and the biggest attack on the social wage this country has ever seen.
The Coalition government plans to speed up the push to privatise remaining federal and state public assets in a massive program to help fund new infrastructure projects — mainly road developments — media sources reveal. ABC radio's AM reported on May 8 that "an infrastructure package worth about $10 billion will be at the centre of the Abbott government's first budget.
About thirty scientists, engineers, mathematicians, PhD students and science advocates took to the steps of Sydney Town Hall on May 3 in defence of Australia’s research sector. The “Rally for Research” was organised by the Future Party to oppose the Coalition government’s plans to reduce the Australian Research Council’s funding by $133 million as well as cut up to 700 jobs from the CSIRO and 100 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The rally also called for the government to reinstate the position of science minister.
“This will not be a budget for the rich or the poor; it will be a budget for the country,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in his April 28 speech to the Sydney Institute, a privately funded “public affairs forum”. He must think we are total fools. Why else would a government that supposedly plans to introduce a budget that is “not for the rich” ask Tony Shepherd, former president of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), to conduct a pre-budget “audit” of government spending?
The federal Commission of Audit's proposal to cut the minimum wage would create an underclass of US-style "working poor" in this country, the Australian Council of Trade Unions says. The ACTU said on May 5: "The plan to aggressively drive down the minimum wage would see its real value fall to its 1998 level of $12 an hour.”
The Commission of Audit report is a declaration of open class war by the corporate ruling class against Australia's working people and the poor. Released symbolically on May 1, the international workers' day, it is a clear challenge to the labour movement and social organisations. If its 86 recommendations are implemented, it would be a wholesale destruction of the welfare state, hard fought for over a century or more by working people, and a huge victory for big business in shifting wealth from the poor to the rich.
I am one of the organisers for the March in March and March in May and a social justice advocate. The leaflet for the Sydney Institute dinner [held on April 28] declares that the honourable Tony Abbott has had a “long and distinguished political career”. I disagree with this statement, and from here on will refer to our prime minister as the dishonourable Tony Abbott. Since taking office in September last year, the dishonourable Tony Abbott and his government have worked hard to undermine the needs and rights of Australians, giving us plenty to get worked up about.
As we brace for the Coalition government's first budget — with its foreshadowed cuts to Medicare, education, welfare and public service jobs — the salt in these wounds was Prime Minister Tony Abbott's announcement that his government plans to buy 58 F35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter war planes for $12.5 billion.
A casino was a fitting venue to host Prime Minister Tony Abbott's keynote address to the 25th anniversary dinner of conservative think tank the Sydney Institute on April 28. Abbott's speech, coming two weeks before the federal budget, was full of promises of “happiness”, “security” and “a better life”. But in reality, Australian workers, pensioners and the poor will be lucky if they are left with much more than the shirts on their backs once the government is done fleecing them.

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