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A rolling post wrapping reaction to the Federal Budget

The Federal Government is pitching its pre-election Budget as a solution to cost of living pressures. However, preliminary responses from First Nations, disability, aged care and other advocates are generally critical.

Below, we compile reaction from: People with Disability Australia; the Australian Aged Care Collaboration; the Change the Record coalition; community health services provider cohealth; the Australian Medical Association; the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation; the Rural Doctors Association of Australia; Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association; the Australian Academy of Science; the Refugee Council of Australia.


Budget fails to deliver for First Nations peoples

Statement by First Nations coalition Change the Record

Change the Record has condemned the Morrison Government’s pre-election Budget as failing to meet community needs or expectations. The First Nations-led Coalition was looking for investment in key social security supports, housing and family violence prevention services to meet critical justice and family violence Closing the Gap targets. Instead, it claims, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have once again been left behind.

Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair Change the Record: 

“It is only March and already five of our people have died behind bars. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the dangers of the overcrowded and substandard housing that too many of our people are forced to live in, and appallingly low social security payments drive our people into poverty. If a Budget is a reflection of a government’s priorities then this Government is sending a clear message that it does not care about FIrst Nations peoples.”

Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair Change the Record and Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum: 

“The calls for urgent, meaningful action to address family violence have been deafening – but again the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been silenced in this Budget. For years, we have been calling for adequate funding so our services don’t have to turn women away, but again this Budget has not delivered. Our peak body was defunded under this government, and again not a single cent has been allocated to ensure we can continue to advocate for First Nations women and children on the national stage.”

Priscilla Atkins, Chair, NATSILS: 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services are suffering from a demand we cannot meet due to severe under-resourcing, understaffing and the flow-on effects from lack of pay parity across the sector. Given the crisis of Black deaths in custody and rates of over-incarceration of our mob, it is more important than ever to deliver more funding and job-creation for ATSILS across Australia, yet once again the Budget lets our people down. Adequate funding for ATSILS means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access culturally safe legal support when and where they need it, which supports our communities and reduces the over-incarceration of our people.”

Damian Griffis, First Peoples Disability Network: 

“FPDN welcomes the commitment from the government to building a stronger First Peoples disability network through the Disability sector  strengthening strategy and FPDNs National Disability Footprint.

To continue this work, we encourage the the government to invest in the co-design of a First Peoples Disability plan that bridges the gap between Australia’s Disability Strategy and Closing the Gap, whilst ensuring the our communities are appropriately supported and resourced to respond to COVID-19, which is hitting us hardest right now.”

Maggie Munn, Amnesty International Australia: 

“If the government is serious about reaching Closing the Gap targets they’d show leadership on raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

“The overrepresentation of First Nations People in prisons and in custody is a result of successive governments’ failures to appropriately fund housing, justice, health and support services that work with mob to ensure we are safe, supported and can thrive. Governments must stop putting First Nations People at the end of their to-do lists.

“If the Federal Government committed to a National Justice Reinvestment Body, it would be a meaningful step in addressing overrepresentation of First Nations people in jail and give our kids a chance to live happy and healthy lives free of the criminal justice system.”

Paul Wright, Executive Director ANTaR: 

“The Coalition has had 9 years, nearly a decade, to address the rates of incarceration, the deaths in custody and the injustice of the system that discriminates against First Nations Peoples. Another decade of failure is unacceptable, it is time to start investing in the solutions that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and their communities have been calling for – because clearly their governments can’t get it done.”


Federal Budget neglects people most in need

Statement by cohealth

One of Australia’s largest community health services, cohealth, says the Federal Budget doesn’t go far enough to improve the lives, and health, of Australians who have the least.

Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz says that cohealth has been at the forefront of Australia’s COVID response and has seen the impact that the pandemic has had – and continues to have – on communities.

“Many of the people we’re working with are in insecure employment, living week-to-week.  We saw a recognition of the financial impact of ill health during the pandemic with payments available to help people isolate.  Now we are back to seeing people forced to choose between buying medication and health care, paying the rent or putting food on the table,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

“A one-off cash bonus acknowledges the skyrocketing costs of living for those on lowest incomes.  Such support must be maintained to ensure our fellow Australians don’t need to resort to skipping meals and postponing medical treatment,” she said.

Ms Bartholomeusz expressed disappointment that the Budget failed to address the upstream drivers of health, with no change to Centrelink payments, no investment in social housing, and no measures to address the problem of insecure and low-paid employment.

Ms Bartholomeusz said that the Federal Government had missed the opportunity for major investment and reform in areas of responsibility including aged care and primary care.

“It’s time for our national leaders to acknowledge that the current fee-for-service medicine model doesn’t support the integrated, comprehensive care required to support health and wellbeing,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

“As we move towards a federal election, we will continue to amplify the voice of our 30,000 clients to make sure that they can achieve their best health.  We must focus on community repair, not just budget repair.”


‘Short-Changing’ people with disability

Statement by People with Disability Australia

Australia’s peak disability rights and advocacy organisation has criticised the Federal Government for not providing better support for people with disability in the 2022 Budget.

People With Disability Australia (PWDA) says the Federal Government has ignored key budget requests that PWDA and other key disability organisations have been advocating for over the last few months.

PWDA President Samantha Connor: “We’re very disappointed with the outcome of the 2022 Federal Budget for people with disability.

“This budget is a lean, mean budget for people with disability, their families and carers.”

“The 2022 Budget provided a valuable opportunity for the Federal Government to give people with disability more support and protection during emergencies like floods and bushfires, more protection from COVID, better support via the NDIS and violence prevention services and increased support for disability advocacy services.”

“The additional funding we were seeking in relation to these issues would have significantly improved the health and safety of people with disability across Australia. However, the government has clearly decided to short-change people with disability once again with no new funding commitments of any significance.”

“People with disability have been treated poorly by this government over the last three years. They actively deprioritised us for protection during the worst of the COVID pandemic. They tried to kneecap our NDIS packages with independent assessments and are continuing with their plan to hollow out the NDIS by massively increasing adverse decisions against participants and clawing back payments. And they continue to support industry models for disability support services which often deliver segregation, violence and abuse to many people in our community.”

“There is an urgent need for increased advocacy funding given the difficult circumstances people with disability face, so people with disability have the certainty to get the help they need. People with disability are facing vast uncertainty in the wake of floods and fires and remain in situations where we are unable to work or go to school because of COVID, as the evidence heard in the Disability Royal Commission has proven.”

“The 2022 Budget provided a platform for the government to try and regain support from people with disability in the lead-up to the upcoming election. But what this budget shows is the government is once again deprioritising people with disability at a time when our need to be protected, supported and valued has never been greater.

“While it is pleasing to see that there is a small economic support payment for eligible recipients, this in no way goes far enough to ensure that people with disability are not worse off. We face the same cost of living pressures but has been additional cost of living pressures since the COVID pandemic started, including in recognition of the increased need for PPE, rapid antigen tests and other disability-related supports.”

“One in five Australians lives with disability and that’s a very significant proportion of voters. Ahead of the upcoming election campaign, this is a budget that puts people with disability in the far queue.”

Background: PWDA Calls For 2022 Budget Measures That Improve Health And Safety Of People With Disability


Temporary fixes, not permanent solutions

Statement by Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie

This budget ignores the big challenges that this country faces right now, which are poverty, inequality and climate change. It doesn’t deliver a budget people can rely on.

This budget is full of temporary fixes, when we need permanent solutions.

Much of the assistance goes to people who don’t need it, and too little goes to people who need support.

One of the biggest spends in this budget is more tax cuts, such as the cuts to the fuel excise and the tax offset. Almost $3 billion goes to reducing the fuel excise, which offers little help at the bowser and would have been much better spent lifting income support and boosting social and affordable housing. The $450 one-off tax offset is overshadowed by the $16 billion annual tax cuts baked into the budget, most of which go to men on the highest incomes.

The budget does nothing to lift the incomes of people with the least. Whilst we welcome the extension of $250 bonus payment to people on pensions and allowances, when if you’re living on $46 a day, this payment will help for a week or two, but people have to pay the rent 52 weeks a year.

This is not a slash and burn budget, and we’re relieved that there are no big cuts that would hurt people with the least and the essential services they rely on.

Unfortunately, although the government says this is a cost-of-living budget, it fails to deal with the biggest cost of living, which is housing. Perversely, its housing measures will very likely push up house prices and make housing affordability worse.

This budget fails to deliver the investment in social housing needed to put a roof over the heads of people on low incomes.

Despite the ongoing natural disasters we are witnessing, nothing in this budget delivers sufficient income support to people facing the devastation of disasters. The Disaster Payment remains at $1,000 for adults, when it should be permanently tripled. Likewise, there is nothing to deliver energy efficiency technologies for people on low incomes.

The budget ends the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment in June, which will hurt lowest-paid workers without access to sick leave. And while all workers, regardless of income, will get a tax deduction for their Rapid Antigen Tests, the free Rapid Antigen Tests for concession card holders will end, despite them being in greatest need of support.

We welcome the reduction in the safety net threshold for the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, which will help pensioners and others on income support afford essential medicines.

We’re pleased that single parents will be able to access 20 weeks of Paid Parental Leave. This is long overdue, and there is no extension otherwise to the number of weeks or an increase to the payment.

We welcome the continuation of the $5,000 support packages for women to escape an abusive partner but we need to see significantly more investment to keep women safe.

We were hoping that in this budget we’d see the major investment in care services that’s desperately needed, including funding to lift the pay of care workers, most of whom are women.

The country needed a budget that delivered solutions for the long term to reduce poverty and inequality and address climate change. We didn’t see that tonight.


Fails aged care workers

Statement by the Australian Aged Care Collaboration

There is nothing in this budget to improve aged care wages. It will leave our dedicated workers on the edge of poverty and many older Australians without the services they need.

The budget confirms the inadequacy of the government’s previous response to the Royal Commission. There is so much more work to be done.

The Royal Commission’s workforce recommendations are the key area of unfinished business and the government has left it that way.

There are some modest new initiatives that we will evaluate and analyse in the coming days.

Since the start of the pandemic, aged care workers have gone above and beyond. They should be getting the pay they deserve and career certainty. The Royal Commission recognised this. It’s well overtime for the government to fix this once and for all.

About the Australian Aged Care Collaboration

The AACC is a group of six aged care peak bodies: Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia. Together, the AACC represents more than 1,000 organisations who deliver 70 per cent of aged care services to 1.3 million Australians, either in their own homes or in communal residential settings.


“Business as usual”

Statement by Australian Medical Association

The claims of record spending on health in tonight’s Federal Budget mask a failure to tackle stress in the health system, though continued spending on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is welcomed says the AMA.

With tonight’s Budget announcements promoting a $7.3 billion increase in Medicare funding and a $9.8 billion increase in hospital funding, the AMA said the amounts did not represent expanded health funding.

“The Medicare and hospital funding in tonight’s Budget amounts to little more than usual recurrent spending and planned growth, not the new injection of funds our health system desperately needs,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Pleased as we are to see tonight’s Budget finally acknowledge the Ten-Year Plan for Primary Care, we can see no plan for how its implementation will be funded.

“This Budget was the last chance for the Government to show it is serious about primary care reform by delivering the extra funding needed to improve patient access to high quality General Practice.

“While the Health portfolio has been spared funding cuts, the Government’s focus on cost of living has overlooked quality of life, particularly for the thousands of Australians languishing on hospital waiting lists,” Dr Khorshid said.

The AMA launched the “Clear the hospital logjam” campaign to show the cycle of crisis gripping our public hospitals. The budget fails to acknowledge this crisis and will do nothing to address ambulance ramping or elective surgical waiting lists.

Dr Khorshid said: “The Budget re-states the Commonwealth will only meet 45% of usual hospital costs, and that the 6.5% cap on hospital funding growth will remain.”

“Yet hospital Emergency Departments are full, ambulances are ramping, and the AMA estimates the waiting list for essential (elective) surgery has blown out by a further 190,000 surgeries with COVID-19 elective surgery pauses, on top of the existing wait lists.

“The next Government will need to act. The major parties are on notice we will be pushing this case all the way to polling day because Australians are clearly saying they want a focus on healthcare, and they expect a health system which is able to meet their family and community’s needs,” Dr Khorshid said.


Scott Morrison fails to do his job

Statement by Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation

The lack of sustainable funding and real reform for health and aged care shows that Prime Minister Scot