At the heart of the 2019 Budget, which doubles as a campaign launch for the federal election, is the announcement that Australia is set to return to surplus for the first time since 2007.
But the social sector has lashed out that it was a lost opportunity to tackle poverty, with welfare, foreign aid and housing some of the biggest losers on the night.
Australian Council of Social Service broke the tax package down claiming the overall package gives the most dollars to people who already have the most, and “offers people on the lowest incomes nothing”. “People on $200,000 will get over $224 a week. People on $50,000 will get $23 a week. People on $25,000 (on pensions) get a one-off payment of $75 (equivalent to $1.40pw). People on $15,000 (on Newstart) get nothing,” ACOSS said.
Meanwhile Anglicare Australia hailed the budget as a “lost opportunity to tackle poverty”. “If you’re locked out of a job or in an insecure job, it seems that you’re simply invisible. Tonight’s budget will leave unemployed people, underemployed people, students and those struggling with housing costs worse off,” Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said.
Two of the biggest savings measures included in the budget also came from the welfare sector. The government is expected to save $2.1 billion over five years by “simplifying and automating” the social security reporting system with data-matching technology, in a move to “greatly reduce” the likelihood of welfare recipients being overpaid.
A further saving is expected to come from slowing down payments made through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. While the budget figures are not clear on the current underspend on the NDIS, conservative estimates put the figure at least $1.6 billion.
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