Advocacy and welfare groups have criticised the 2014 Federal Budget over wide-ranging cuts to welfare, education and support services.
The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has urged the Federal Government to maintain the closest possible scrutiny on how Australia’s most vulnerable are affected by the tough changes in the Federal Budget.
“The Federal Budget lays out an extensive range of program cuts and structural changes,” Uniting Church President Rev Professor Andrew Dutney said.
“Cutting more than half a billion dollars from Indigenous programs, tough new conditions for youth support, and making all Australians pay to see a doctor are a number of measures that have the potential to harm those who really need our help.
“The Federal Government must be true to its word that this Budget supports the most vulnerable and provides equality of opportunity. It is unjust that the most vulnerable Australians should bear the pain of economic reform.”
Rob Floyd, national director of UnitingWorld, has expressed bitter disappointment that the Government has made its biggest cuts to foreign aid – $7.6 billion across the forward estimates.
“The Government has broken its promise on overseas aid by reneging on the bipartisan commitment to lift aid levels to 0.5 per cent of gross national income,” Mr Floyd said.
“These cuts come at the expense of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, many of whom live in our Asia-Pacific region.”
UnitingCare Australia’s national director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the Federal Budget fails to provide an equality of opportunity for all Australians.
“The burden of this budget falls overwhelmingly on families, pensioners and young people.
“Cuts to family payments, income support and pensions are four times the size of the temporary levy on high income earners,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“Many of these cuts are permanent, while the high income levy runs for only three years.
“Medicare co-payments will hit the health and hip pockets of disadvantaged Australians.”
Ms Hatfield Dodds expressed support of some aspects of the budget including the levy on high income earners.
“We urge the Government to consider continuing this levy until the budget returns to surplus,” she said.
“We support the better targeting of family tax benefits to families with incomes up to $100,000 per annum.
“It is good to see the continued commitment to the NDIS and funding to support the aged care workforce.
“The Budget includes record spending on physical infrastructure, but misses important opportunities to invest in people – Australia’s most important and valuable asset,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.