The Abbott Government's first budget is a disaster for communities around Australia, but Tasmanians will feel the impact more than most. I joined my colleague Senator Lisa Singh in Hobart to hear firsthand from community groups about how Tasmanians will be affected by changes to income support, pensions and healthcare spending, and plan for how we'll keep fighting the government on these.
TACKLING INEQUALITY IN TASMANIA
Community groups and grassroots activists have come together to talk about tackling inequality in the wake of the most unfair budget in Australian history.
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh and Senator for Tasmania Lisa Singh today met with representatives of Anglicare, the Grandparents Advisory Council and other local groups to hear about how Tasmanians will be affected by cuts to income support and pensions, as well as new taxes like the $7 GP fee and higher fuel excise.
“The Abbott Government’s first budget chipped away at the very pillars that support the Australian fair go,” said Dr Leigh, who last year authored a book titled Battlers and Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia.
"Over the past generation Australia has seen a rise in inequality, with a widening gap between those on high incomes and those struggling to make their pay last from week to week," he said.
"Tony Abbott's first budget will make us a more divided society, because his cuts hurt those on low incomes, while his giveaways help those at the top.
"There's no better example of this than the Government's plan to chuck young Tasmanians off income support for six months while giving more than a billion dollars in tax breaks to multinational companies," Dr Leigh said.
Senator Lisa Singh said the Government's rumblings on changing the way GST is distributed would also lead to more inequality.
"Tasmania is facing some serious challenges when it comes to creating more jobs and improving our local economy.
"If Tasmania's share of the GST is cut, the quality of our local health and education services will suffer.
"The state you live in shouldn't determine your access to a good school or quick and reliable medical treatment. We need to be wary of proposals which would increase inequality between states as well as those which increase this between individual families," she said.
Dr Leigh said that the clear message from today's meeting was that Tasmanians do not want to see their communities becoming more unequal.
“We've resolved to fight even harder against Tony Abbott’s unfair cuts, because Australia is stronger when we work together than when we pull apart."
TUESDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2014