The first Federal Budget for the newly elected Abbott Government will not soon be forgotten by the media and voters alike, with several pre- and post-election promises in the areas of health, education, pensions, broadcasting, environment and indigenous affairs being broken.
Despite assurances from the Coalition in September 2013 that no changes would be made to pensions, changes in Tuesday’s budget mean that, from 2017, the age and disability pensions will fall behind wages growth by being linked to inflation.
Education and health
In the lead up to the election, the Coalition confirmed that there would be no cuts to education, no cuts to health and Medicare Locals would not be scrapped. Tuesday’s budget saw $80 billion in cuts to health and education and all 61 Medicare Local stores to be shut down and replaced by local health networks.
In March 2012, Tony Abbott said that no one’s personal tax would increase, but Tuesday’s budget saw a deficit levy imposed on people who earn incomes over $180,000.
In January of this year, the Coalition said that the $5 billion aid budget would grow each year in line with the Consumer Price Index. Tuesday’s budget revealed that foreign aid would be frozen, saving $7.6 billion over the next five years.
Post-election, the Coalition confirmed that The Australian Renewable Energy Agency would have $2.5 billion in funds to manage, but in Tuesday’s budget the agency was axed. Under its Direct Action policy, the Coalition was aiming to deliver one million additional solar homes or community centres by 2020, but the budget saw the scrapping of fund rebates for the installation of solar panels to fulfil this promise.
The Coalition policy document detailed the party’s commitment to continuing the current level of funding on Closing the Gap activities. Over $500 million was cut from these activities in Tuesday’s budget through the consolidation of 150 programs.
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With several measures announced and leaked to the public in the weeks leading up to this year’s budget, it’s fairly obvious that the Coalition was attempting to prepare the Australian public for the sucker punch it was about to deliver in Tuesday’s budget. I and many others were floored.
In delivering Tuesday’s budget, the Coalition broke several core promises which won them the federal leadership in September 2013. The next federal election is years away, so it is no surprise that the Coalition is pushing through such radical changes now, with the hope that its last two budgets can be more positive. What the Coalition doesn’t realise is that the voters of Australia don’t forget and certainly don’t forgive. In late January of this year, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called our Prime Minister Tony Abbott a one-term PM. After Tuesday’s budget, short of a miracle, it is hard to see the PM being re-elected.
The Federal Budget is not the time or place to play politics, yet both sides have been taking the opportunity to strike at one another all week through TV, radio and online interviews and ads. To take Australia into the future, more consultation between all sitting members must take place to ensure a balanced view is represented.
The Coalition is playing a dangerous game. This is a government which swindled its way into power under false promises and assurances to the general public. With no checks and balances in our system to hold parties to account, we can only act on previous goodwill and the policies. I voted for the Coalition at the 2013 Federal Election and if I was given the chance to re-cast that vote right now, it would be given to a different party.
Did you vote for the Coalition at the last federal election? If you were given the chance right now, would you change your vote? Will the voters of Australia forget about Tuesday’s budget by the next election?