A Nation Reacts

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Sydney, March 29: The unveiling of the Federal Budget tonight by the Australian government has been met with a mixed bag of reactions.
There were some happy campers and some who felt that the Morrison government could have done more.
The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) felt that the federal budget provided short-term relief, but lacked long-term vision.
“Much more needs to be done to address the structural barriers to work for people who are long-term unemployed,” BSL Acting Executive Director Dr Lucia Boxelaar said.
“Many of these job seekers are of mature age, living with a disability or have additional barriers to finding employment. 
“Rather than blaming and punishing individuals, the Federal Government needs to invest in the social infrastructure and meaningful, tailored employment support that people need to find work. 
“And, of course, investment inadequate income support is needed for those who cannot work or can’t get enough work to make ends meet.”
On the reduction in fuel prices which starts tonight the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said: “In light of today’s announcement, our petrol team will focus on this price monitoring work for the next six months to determine how retailers are passing through the excise reduction to consumers.”
“We will contact petrol retailers to set out our clear expectations that the savings are passed on to consumers and advise them that we will be monitoring their margins. 
“We will also continue to inform consumers of retailer behaviour.”
Meanwhile, cybersecurity expert StickmanCyber founder Ajay Unni lauded the government’s spending in two cyber security areas but hoped for more clarity on these investments.
“For every $100 that small businesses spend on cybersecurity, they will receive an $120 tax deduction with the Australian government making an $9.9B investment in its cyber capabilities, including a new cyber and critical technology centre.
“We are not surprised to see this investment, given the increase in cyber attacks aimed at the nation, including businesses of all sizes. 
“But we’d like to see it go further so the measures in place to secure our digital world are even half as considered as the measures in place to protect our physical health and secure our borders.
“Without helpful mandates or more defined guidance on how the funds can be used by Australian businesses, businesses are playing with fire,” Unni said. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture by EPA-EFE/Joel Carrett.

Here are the rest of the reactions: 

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) believes this budget ignores the big challenges Australia faces right now, such as poverty, inequality and climate change, and that it fails to deal with the biggest cost of living – housing.
“Much of the assistance goes to people who don’t need it, and too little goes to people who do. The government says this is a cost-of-living budget, but it fails to deal with the biggest cost of living, which is housing. Its housing measures will very likely push house prices up and make housing affordability worse. There is no social housing investment in this budget when we need it.”

The Climate Council said the Federal Budget has failed to deliver any meaningful commitments to address escalating climate change in Australia, with leading economist Nicki Hutley calculating that just 0.3 per cent of total expenditure for 2021-2024 has been committed to climate change initiatives, falling even lower to just 0.2 per cent in 2024-2026.

The Health Services Union said the federal Liberals are squarely within the campaign sights of aged care workers, who will rally outside Parliament House in Canberra tomorrow (March 30) at 11.00 am after being snubbed in tonight’s Budget. 

Christian leaders, brought together by Micah Australia, welcome the Australian Government’s commitment in the 2022-23 Federal Budget to take in an additional 16,500 Afghan refugees. The coalition has consistently called on the Prime Minister to lift the government’s intake of Afghan refugees beyond its existing humanitarian program.

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) said that this year’s Federal Budget provides well-considered structural reform that will greatly benefit small businesses in the medium and long-term, ensuring they are well-positioned to recover, grow, and thrive in the increasingly digital world.

Everybody’s Home believes the Federal Government’s failure to invest in additional social and affordable housing in tonight’s Budget will worsen the housing crisis for low-to-middle income Australians in the rental market, with their research showing at least 40 per cent of renters in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are suffering financial stress.

People With Disability Australia (PWDA) said the Federal Government has ignored key budget requests they and other disability organisations have been advocating for over the last few months. These include more support and protection during emergencies like floods and bushfires, more protection from COVID-19, better support via the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and violence prevention services and increased support for disability advocacy services.

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) expressed disappointment at the Federal Government’s failure in its Budget to take more action to improve retirement savings outcomes for women by not introducing the measures the peak body for profit-to-member funds had been calling for on behalf of millions of working Australians.

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair Josephine Sukkar AM welcomed the Australian Government’s $155 million packages for sport announced in tonight’s Federal Budget which includes significant funding to keep kids active through sport.

The Australian Doctors Reform Society condemns the Federal Budget as an enormous waste of money that is a real threat to Australian lives because it doesn’t adequately fund Medicare, Aged Care and Hospitals.

Industry Super Australia’s Bernie Dean is disappointed the budget has missed another opportunity to address the gender super gap but welcomes Budget papers confirming the government will lift the Super Guarantee rate to 12 per cent by 2025 as legislated.

Dementia Australia is happy with the investment of an additional $468.3m into the aged care sector announced in tonight’s Federal Budget as an essential step in fulfilling the recommendations by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. 

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said the budget will provide some relief for builders and tradies who have been hit hard by the increasing cash and cost crunch, especially with the fuel excise cut as they fuel up their utes.

HESTA welcomes measures aimed at increasing women’s workforce participation but said the Federal Budget was a missed opportunity to improve women’s long-term financial security with a persisting gender blind spot in our super system that sees women retire with almost a third less super than their male counterparts.

The National Tertiary Education Union said the Morrison Government has comprehensively failed to deliver anything meaningful for universities, staff or students in its 2022-23 Budget. Instead, it has continued to cut public funding per student in real terms by 5.4 per cent in the next year and 3.6 per cent in the following two years, with AU$3 billion lost from 2017-18 to 2025-26.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said lack of sustainable funding and real reform for health and aged care shows that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has failed to ‘do his job’ to restore and rebuild Australia’s public health system and the private aged care sector.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes funding for embedding pharmacists into aged care but is disappointed that unfair disparities in pharmacist remuneration for key services have been overlooked in this year’s Federal Budget.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that this year’s budget fails to address the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the future challenges of a fatigued health system, with vital components of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan remaining unfunded.

World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth said tonight’s budget was a win for vulnerable children facing long-term uncertainty, as the world experienced an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. The aid budget for existing crises such as those in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh, has been increased from $114.3 million to $144.9 million.

Farmers for Climate Action has welcomed the Federal Government’s $27.2 million investment in carbon and biodiversity extension officers in each Natural Resource Management region. These extension officers will help farmers take part in carbon and biodiversity markets.

The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) has welcomed the Budget’s confirmation of recently announced Australian Government initiatives in the schools sector, including resources to support student engagement and funding for Indigenous boarding students.

Engineers Australia said that while the 2022-23 budget puts engineers at the forefront in delivering Australia’s economic recovery, building resilient communities; and responding to global instability, it has missed the mark on engineering skills and climate change.

The Brewers Association of Australia comments on their extreme disappointment that the Federal Government has not cut draught beer tax in the budget as Australia has the fourth highest beer tax rate in the world and refusing to address this has ignored the calls from pubs, clubs and Australia’s 11 million beer drinkers. 

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said: “At a time of rapidly escalating need and growing inequality across the globe, this Federal Budget fails to demonstrate the leadership that is required from a nation like Australia.”

Mental Health Victoria’s Acting CEO Larissa Taylor said the Federal Budget indicates that mental health and suicide reform are no longer ‘first tier’ Federal Government priorities.

The Australian Dental Association said the nation’s oral health has yet again shown to be of no importance to the Morrison Government with scant mention of oral health made in 2022 pre-election Budget.

Live Performance Australia (LPA), the arts and entertainment industry peak body, said the Federal Budget falls well short in supporting the industry rebuild post COVID and faces significant challenges.

End COVID For All spokesperson Rev Tim Costello welcomes the Australian Government’s increase in aid to address global vaccine inequity as well as the extension of key pandemic support packages for the Indo-Pacific. In the 2022-23 Federal Budget, Australia’s aid budget rose from $4.335 billion to $4.549 billion.

The Victorian Healthcare Association said the Commonwealth Government has missed an opportunity to fund services that help people prevent illness, manage chronic conditions, and avoid expensive hospital treatment.

Victorian Healthcare Association, CEO Tom Symondson said the Federal Budget had failed the Victorian hospitals COVID-19 had hit Victoria harder than any other state or territory and that more Federal Government support was needed to help its health system meet demand.

No to Violence has welcomed the $10.5 million in funding for the Men’s Referral Service announced in the Federal Budget which guarantees the operation of the Men’s Referral Service (MRS) and the Brief Intervention Service (BIS) for the next five years.

The Community Power Agency said the Morrison Government’s 2022 Budget has missed a unique opportunity to address cost of living pressures hitting regional Australians with practically no budget measures that empower everyday communities to access the full benefits of the boom in renewables.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson said the Australian Government’s 2022/23 Budget offers welcomed targeted support to Australian small and family businesses.

GrainGrowers said the Federal Budget is a stable budget, but more is needed to advance the industry and help grain farmers play their part in Australia’s economic recovery. 

Australian Parents for Climate Action has called on the Federal Government to help families struggling with cost of living pressures, by providing more affordable access to electric vehicles and installation of solar panels to their homes.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations said the Morrison Government has announced continued funding to implement Australia’s National HIV Strategy. The Budget papers reveal a further $8.6 million will be allocated to combat blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections, including $5 million to implement the fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI Strategy.

The Australian Association of Psychologists (AAPi) Executive Director Tegan Carrison said: “While the AAPi welcomes the overall commitment of $6.8 billion towards mental health and suicide prevention, unfortunately this Budget only allows for an additional $648.6 million in spending. For such a pivotal aspect of our community, this is nowhere near sufficient.
“We remain concerned about shocking workforce shortages and chronic underfunding of pivotal services such as Medicare, rural and remote services and school psychologists. Without raising the Medicare rebate to $150 for the clients of all psychologists, access to affordable mental health care remains out of reach for hundreds of thousands of people. Simply extending and re-announcing previous investments, or shuffling the existing workforce around to community hubs and specialist centres, is not increasing access to mental health.”

Meanwhile, we at DailyStraits.com are just bummed that free dental care wasn’t included in this year’s budget. Ah well.

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