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Hope versus humiliation in the Federal Budget

John Falzon, Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, writes in Eureka Street (9.5.17) that, despite Treasurer Scott Morrison's assurances of 'better days ahead', social and economic inequality is becoming an increasingly entrenched impediment to Australian prosperity, which the federal budget does little to address.

'It would be nice to believe, as the Treasurer wants us to, that better times are just around the corner. But while wages stagnate and company profits surge, inequality is now at its highest point since the 1950s.

'This is clearly not going to get any better any time soon. By 2019, the highest income earners will have received an effective tax cut of 1.5 per cent compared to all other taxpayers who will be paying an extra 0.5 per cent. But for the young people of Australia especially, Budget 2017 boosts inequality instead of building a better future.

'Corporate tax cuts at the same time as penalty rate cuts and cuts to social services and social security to the tune of $15 billion since 2014 will not help young people into jobs. Neither will the imposition of behavioural sticks on the backs of the unemployed, which only serve to distract us from the existence of structural walls that keep them excluded.

'... We longed for a carefully considered vision in this budget but we were served a buffet of tactics. We yearned for hope, but young people, along with older people who have been pushed out, have been given yet another serve of deliberate humiliation. For those of us who stand in solidarity with the people who are targeted and degraded in this budget this is just one chapter in the long-haul struggle to build a more just and compassionate society.


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