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Issue #1730      May 11, 2016

Budget Roundup

The Turnbull government has cut money from frontline specialist domestic and family violence services. This includes crisis services, women’s and youth refuges, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Community Legal Services. This in the same week of the launch of a $30 million national awareness campaign, targeted at disrespect for women and girls; lip-service as it transpires. Domestic violence services are unable to cope with demand and provide adequate responses to the most vulnerable women and families in the country because of a lack of government funding.

$1 billion cut out of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which provides investment in green jobs.

The Australia Council for the Arts has had its funding cut for the second year in a row; $28 million and $23 million respectively.

In the public service, the budget confirms the government will cut another 3,000 to 4,500 jobs in coming years and press ahead with plans to further outsource and privatise public services including Medicare.

This follows as a direct result of the Turnbull government’s staff cuts; one in three calls to Centrelink went unanswered last year, while the Tax Office no longer has enough experienced staff to crack down on the many big corporations and the top 1% who are rorting the system.

In health, the government has cut $1.2 billion from aged care, put a freeze on the Medicare rebate for GPs, undermining bulk billing; Tony Abbott’s $54 billion cuts to hospital funding remain.

Overall the 2016-17 budget cuts funding to higher education by 20 percent and more than $1billion from clean energy; provides almost $3 billion for offshore mandatory detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru; An extra $30 billion on military; drives foreign aid obligations to their lowest ever levels.

Further, the budget:

  • cuts funding to mental health services including a 75% cut in funding over two years for specialist youth mental health programs provided by Headspace and the Youth Psychosis program;
  • shifts mental health service delivery from face to face support to online and call centre services leading to a loss of skilled specialist jobs in local communities;
  • cuts $115 million in funding to homelessness services including women and youth refuges from July next year by failing to renew the National Partnership on Homelessness. This will mean over 1,000 jobs could go across the country;
  • no long term security for abolishing the Working Women’s Centres that support marginalised women in remote communities across Australia, with funding expiring at Christmas;
  • locks in the $240 million cuts from the Abbott government budgets taking money away from emergency relief and financial support to women and children leaving violence;
  • cuts $40 million from community legal centres and Aboriginal legal services from next year, with at least 100 jobs to go across the country; and
  • $1.2 billion in cuts to aged care.

The Australian Services Union says these cuts will see services close, people turned away from services and 1,110 jobs lost across the sector.

The Turnbull government also announced harsh measures attacking the most vulnerable in the community by:

  • restricting welfare support for people with a disability in order to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme;
  • freezing the Medicare rebate at a cost of $925 million to patients;
  • going ahead with Abbott’s cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and introducing fees for diagnostic testing like pap smears and blood tests from July this year and signalling further cuts to the PBS;
  • going ahead with Abbott’s cuts to paid parental leave and family tax benefits for low-income families; and
  • cut $1 billion out of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which provided investment in green jobs;
  • made no change to fossil fuel subsidies;
  • made all infrastructure funding entirely dependent on asset privatisation.

Next article – Budget 2016-17 – Health and aged care hit … again

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