This morning I was fortunate to join my friend and colleague Terri Butler in Brisbane for a community forum on inequality and the unfairness of the Coalition's first budget. Here's a quick run-down of what we discussed:
GRIFFITH COMMUNITY SAYS NO TO BUDGET INEQUALITY
More than three months after the Abbott Government handed down its first Budget, concern about the inequity fostered by its key policies continues to grow in the community.
Representatives from local church groups, multicultural peak bodies and community legal services today joined Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and Member for Griffith Terri Butler at a community sector forum in Brisbane’s West End. The participants raised grave concerns about how budget cuts to health, education and welfare programs will increase inequality in the Griffith community and across Australia.
“The Abbott Government’s first budget aggressively hacked away at some of the key measures which have underpinned the Australian fair go,” said Dr Leigh, who last year authored a book titled Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia.
“People are really concerned about the kind of Australia we will end up with if the poorest single parents lose a tenth of their total incomes, if kids from disadvantaged backgrounds can no longer afford to go to university, and if wealthy mums get paid more for their maternity leave than poor ones.
“Australia has already seen a generation of rising inequality, and the people we’ve spoken to today are in no doubt that these budget measures are at odds with Australia’s strong egalitarian traditions.”
Member for Griffith Terri Butler said people in her community would particularly feel the impact of the Budget because of changes to Newstart and Youth Allowance payments as well as cuts to employment and training programs.
“Today’s forum showed that the Griffith community does not support Australia becoming a more unequal place. We will not let the Abbott Government get away with policies which widen the gap between those with the most and those with the least in our community,” Ms Butler said.
The forum particularly discussed cuts to education, health and social programs and the rising cost of housing. Participants raised concerns about how this will increase homelessness and incarceration rates, particularly among Indigenous women.
THURSDAY, 14 AUGUST 2014
JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856 (LEIGH)
ANGUS SUTHERLAND 0433 295 099 (BUTLER)