Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

Budget

I rise today to condemn the 2014 Budget delivered yesterday. People say 'Change the government and you change the country'. Last night's budget shines a harsh spotlight on the truth of this. Even battle-hardened politicians and the most cynical in our communities are shocked by the draconian measures introduced in the budget last night. They are shocked by the sheer audacity and by the hypocrisy on display after the promises made before the election. My electorate of Lalor is one of the highest growth areas in Australia. It is also going to be one of the electorates most affected by this budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. Lalor is home to lots of young families and pensioners. We have newly arrived migrants, lots of single families and a high proportion of people living with a disability. We have been hit hard by the closure of the car industry and now we will suffer again.

When I talk to the local service providers in the electorate, people like Carol Muir from Werribee Support and Housing and Jennie Berrera from the Wyndham Community and Education Centre, they talk about the incredible cost of living pressures so many in the community already experience. This budget will only increase those pressures. We can expect more families requiring food vouchers, increased evictions and more homeless people. There are approximately 10,000 age pensioners and 5,000 disability support pensioners in Lalor. We have a 92 per cent bulk-billing rate. We have 3,300 students with a disability in our local schools. The youth unemployment rate is around 35 per cent. These are the people who will be most affected by this budget.

Lalor families will be whacked by broken promises—broken promises such as a $7 GP tax, not just for a visit to the doctor but for blood tests, scans and X-rays; the axing of the schoolkids bonus; less money for our local schools; less money for the Werribee Mercy Hospital; a reduction in the family tax benefit; reducing funding for students with disabilities; cutting carers' payments; and an increase in the price of petrol in an area where we rely heavily on our cars.

On top of that there is no plan for jobs, just cuts to industry innovation funds. Young people in Lalor will suffer also with increases to uni and TAFE fees; with changes making it harder to access youth allowance; with the cutting of apprentice support programs including Tools For Your Trade; by moving under-24-year-olds onto youth allowance, another cut; by changes making those under 30 who lose their job wait six months for assistance; and by cutting programs that support job seekers to find work. The cruellest cuts, though, are for older residents, those on disability support pension and pensioners. There are funding cuts to pensions. We are making people work until they are 70. The GP tax and changes to the PBS will leave many deciding between visiting the doctor and filling the pantry. There will be funding cuts to carers payments and cuts to preventative health programs.

The priorities of this government are clear: let us get the most vulnerable in our community to do the heavy lifting; let us demonise our most vulnerable as taking more than they deserve. Poor, sick people will now pay through the GP tax for medical research that, once Medicare is dismantled, only the rich will be able to afford and will therefore reap the benefit. Families will face increased cost-of-living pressures because of reduced family payments and health care becoming more expensive. They will face a petrol tax every time they get in their car. While families struggle, the top three per cent of taxpayers will contribute a mere $7.70 a week through the debt levy. They will be paid $50,000 when having a baby, while others receive nothing.

The budget has taught us much about this government. They are a government of broken promises and twisted priorities. For my community this is a cruel budget—not just of broken promises but, for many, of broken dreams. And for what? There is no budget emergency, just an excuse to enact this pain and to further embed inequity.

Australia is one of only 10 countries with a AAA credit rating, and the previous Labor government's spending in the last four years was the lowest, as a percentage of GDP, that it had been in this country for 23 years. I will not stand by as this government tells us that we cannot afford to be fair.


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