Thanks to the relentless and sustained pressure of the union movement, community groups and a hostile Senate, we managed to bust a lot of the worst elements from the 2014 Federal Budget, but savage cuts to health and education haven’t been reversed, and further cuts remain on the Abbott Government’s agenda.
The Abbott Government wanted you to pay a minimum $7 ‘co-payment’ very time you went to see the doctor. The GP Tax changed forms various times under sustained opposition from union members and the community, before finally being dumped altogether in March at a time when Tony Abbott’s leadership was directly under threat.
Status: The GP Tax is BUSTED – for now.
Cuts to hospital funding
As part of the 2014 Federal budget, hospital funding agreements with the states would be wound back from 2017, effectively slashing $50 billion from Australia’s health system. The money has not yet been returned, and states can’t be expected to make up the difference.
Status: Hospital funding cuts are NOT BUSTED
Cuts to school funding
The dumping of Gonski funding to schools in 2017-18 leaves schools around the country about $30 billion short of what was previously expected, and the states have been expected to pick up the massive shortfall. This funding has not been reinstated, and doubts remain as to whether the government ever will.
Status: School funding cuts are NOT BUSTED
University fee deregulation
The 2014 Federal Budget put forward $5.8 billion worth of cuts to higher education, as part of a push toward fee deregulation that would see the cost of some degrees breaking the $100,000 barrier. After 2 failed attempts to get these regressive changes through the Senate, Christopher ‘Fixer’ Pyne has given up for the moment.
Status: University fee deregulation is BUSTED – for now
Punishing unemployed people
The 2014 budget proposed changes to Newstart payments that would see eligibility raised from 22 to 25 – putting thousands of young job-seekers on the lower paying Youth Allowance. If you lost your job under the proposed Newstart changes, you’d be unable to claim any payment for six months if you were under 30 – which could have thrown thousands of young people into homelessness. Thankfully, after strong community opposition these draconian measures have failed to pass the Senate.
Status: Newstart changes are BUSTED
Cuts to pensions
According to ACOSS, "an estimated 3.8 million Age, Carer, Veteran and Disability Support Pensioners would have been short-changed by $100 a week over a decade if less generous indexation rules were passed by the Senate”. Thankfully they haven’t, but it appears they are still very much on the government’s agenda.
Status: Pension cuts are NOT BUSTED YET
Changing the retirement age
The Age Pension eligibility age will not increase from 67 to age 70, as the government had proposed in its 2014 budget. This harsh plan would severely affect older people who lose their job and Indigenous people who have much lower life expectancy than their non-Indigenous peers.
Status: Retirement age changes are BUSTED for now, but still on the government’s agenda