On Tuesday, Treasurer Scott Morrison revealed the Coalition’s final election costings. The new costings show a budget bottom line $1.1 billion better over four years than initially predicted in Budget 2016/17.
Over the election period, the total net cost of the Coalition’s promises is $1.2 billion. However, the Treasurer is now claiming new savings of $2.3 billion expected to come from an additional crackdown on welfare recipients.
The Treasurer plans to target outstanding debts, as well as to implement new technology that will detect welfare fraud and non-compliance. Welfare recipients are expected to face more frequent and stringent reporting requirements under these proposed changes.
“They are practical measures to improve the administrative and integrity efficiency of the social welfare system,” said Mr Morrison. “No one who genuinely needs social welfare support and who is honestly disclosing their employment income and non-employment income will be worse-off under our commitment.”
In response to the announcement, the ALP’s Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and finance spokesperson Tony Burke expressed their disbelief about the costings, suggesting the changes would not pass Parliament.
“We would need to know exactly how many people would be affected and how it is different to the $5.7 billion in savings announced since the 2015/16 budget from better compliance,” Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told reporters in Canberra.
The Coalition had an opportunity to finish off the Election 2016 campaign with a strong piece of legislation, but instead, decided to finish with the implementation of a crackdown on those doing it the hardest in our society – those on welfare.
Where is the action on big businesses that continue to move profits offshore and pay minimal tax? Where is the action on the highest paid net-worth Australians moving funds in a similar manner as revealed in the Panama Papers? Where are changes to negative gearing or the capital gains tax concessions that continue to result in high net-worth individuals benefitting the most?
The Coalition has clearly missed an opportunity heading into the final days of the election. The ALP, on the other hand, decided to push the envelope in promising that if it were elected, the first bill to go before the new parliament would be for the necessary changes to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage. This brilliant move should secure the party many undecided young voters, as well as claw back votes from other parties such as The Greens.
With more frequent and stringent reporting requirements under the new changes, I can only imagine the pain and suffering those receiving a welfare payment will have to endure to ensure their benefit is paid. Wait times of 30 minutes to an hour are standard when attempting to phone Centrelink, so with more frequent reporting, one can imagine the impossibility of actually talking to a real person.
What do you think? Are the Coalition’s changes to welfare enough to sway your vote in Election 2016? Is the Coalition unfairly targeting those on welfare? Do you believe the Coalition has finished the campaign on a weak note? Has the ALP finished the campaign stronger? Who are you going to vote for and why?