Abbottalyptic backflip over community cuts?

By Leith van Onselen

The Australian is reporting that a 30-strong group of Coalition MPs occupying marginal electorates are in revolt over the Government’s handling of cuts to community service groups that service vulnerable people:

A fiery meeting of the “key seats’’ group, which includes about 30 MPs in marginal electorates, erupted on Wednesday as MPs challenged the government’s political direction…

A flashpoint at the meeting was the government’s handling of more than $200 million in cuts to community groups that direct funding to vulnerable people…

The issue continues to loom as a flashpoint among MPs as the government frames the May budget and seeks savings to counter declines in revenue.

Readers might recall that in the lead-up to Christmas, then Community Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, threw his moral compass out the window and informed a broad range of welfare agencies that they would no longer receive federal funding, with the homeless and the low-income housing sector particularly badly hit by Budget cuts.

This move angered many Coalition MPs, who were not made aware of the funding cuts, and were then forced to explain them to angry constituents.

Thankfully, new Community Services Minister, Scott Morrison, since restored the groups’ funding on an interim basis until to 30 June, although future funding remains up in the air.

Leaders within the Coalition would do well to heed the MPs concerns. A key reason why the Abbott Government is languishing in polls, and its Budget measures remain stuck in the Senate, is because they are widely perceived as unfair.

This view was encapsulated by the Freedom of Information (FOI) request lodged by Fairfax Media last year, which revealed Treasury modelling showing the measures introduced in the May 2014 Budget would be highly inequitable and punish lower income workers:

ScreenHunter_3581 Aug. 04 10.48

The combined effect is that an average low income family loses $844 per year in disposable income (earnings after tax and government payments) due to the budget. Middle income earners forgo $492; while a high income family is down by $517.

As argued many times previously, instead of attempting to claw back loose change from the most vulnerable members of society in a desperate bid to plug the Budget deficit, the Abbott Government must instead attack Australia’s world-beating tax expenditures – such as superannuation, negative gearing, and capital gains tax concessions – which deprive the Budget of many billions of dollars of revenue, make the tax system less progressive, and overwhelming benefit richer, older Australians.

Tightening the Aged Pension also makes good sense. That the biggest asset most households retiree with – one’s principle place of residence – is essentially excluded from their capacity to fund their retirement makes little ethical or budgetary sense. The Aged Pension is also one of the largest and fastest growing areas of the Budget, and very poorly targeted.

Ultimately, the only way for the Coalition to get back on track, and earn a second electoral term, is to craft a Budget and reform program that places equity considerations front-and-centre.

Australians will accept reform, but only when it is clearly explained and the burden is equitably shared. Coalition backbenchers seem to recognise these facts, and it is time for the leadership to do likewise.

[email protected]

Comments

  1. What a bunch of weak willed nervous nellies these marginal seat holders are.

    Rather than obsess about about alleged minor cuts to the poor, obsess about poor allocation of cuts – ie the Budget was too lame, they should have come out all guns firing – may as well have been crucified for something meaningful rather than something minor.

    • [email protected]

      tin eared much?
      when are you standing for office?

    • Been drooling over your Ayn Rand again, 3d? $200mil in cuts to services for the poor is NOT minor.

      What particular ‘meaningful’ cuts do you propose, I wonder?

      • [email protected]

        the people affected are imaginary of course.3D

        Your time is coming creep

      • “Been drooling over your Ayn Rand again, ”

        I don’t know who originally said this, but it always makes me laugh:

        “There are two novels that can transform a bookish 14-year-kid’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs. ”

        There is more than a little truth in there.

    • Those marginal seat holders are the difference between government and opposition, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them voted for the spill motion last week.

      may as well have been crucified for something meaningful rather than something minor.

      Yes, the government should have used their political capital for something meaningful, and not petty, mean-spirited attacks on the poor.

      Spelling it out for you again because you clearly still don’t get it:

      instead of attempting to claw back loose change from the most vulnerable members of society in a desperate bid to plug the Budget deficit, the Abbott Government must instead attack Australia’s world-beating tax expenditures – such as superannuation, negative gearing, and capital gains tax concessions – which deprive the Budget of many billions of dollars of revenue

    • What a bunch of weak willed nervous nellies these marginal seat holders are.

      Indeed. It’s almost like they think they’re supposed to representing their constituents.

      Crazy. If we don’t get this under control some democracy might break out !

    • Remember the Cairns mother on welfare that killed 8 kids? Ask the local Thursday Islanders the reason why.

      • No, no 3d that’s you. – AGW doesn’t exist, apparently, despite there being a 10 year, 100% cross cultural, cross political peak body consensus AND billions in research funding right feaking there on the table for anybody who can disprove it …

        NUP – 3d recons it doesn’t exist – and just shuts out issues like the funding available to disprove AGW – No those leftist scientists are just using leftist AGW conspiracy as means to secure funding – eerrr from people like errr – Tony Abbot and David Cameron and Stephen Harper – but amazingly ignoring the funding they could get from the fossil fuels industries …. even though It’s all just about the funding ….

        Ohh an yeah – so as at today – how many peak bods have taken the money from the barking right and rejected the CONSENSUS —— yep still freaking NONE!

        3d you are madder than Mad Jack Mc Mad on this – but equally as insane – is the the Prime F*ckwit.

    • Too right 3d, why fuck around with a lousy $200m, they should have demanded Abbott scrap some of the $4.5b in tax concessions to the mining industry.

  2. Destroy the LNP.

    Make sure they never govern anywhere across Australia ever again.

    Destroy EVERY party that serves everyone else first and the voter last.

    • They are doing that to them selves. Only wish if there an actual opposition with policies(and an actual leader), LNP would have been gone for good ages ago

      • Agree PaulF.

        There’s never been a better opportunity anywhere in the world for some smart person to start a new party that serves Australia and Australians and become PM of a country.

        We are crying for it. PLllllllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeee

        will someone do it.

      • Only wish if there an actual opposition with policies(and an actual leader),

        There is your problem. You are fixated on the two party system.

        Vote as I do. Labor and Liberal always get the two bottom places on my ticket. If everyone did likewise then you would soon see change.

    • Let’s face it. The Libs hate and are contemptuous of the destitute and then the poor. They don’t like the battlers either.

      Howard’s “battlers” we’re never real battlers. They were the consumerist, never materially satisfied, middle.

      Labor also invests its energy only in the “working winners”. For the rest, it is benign neglect.

      The Greens, who talk openly about equity and equal opportunity, are lampooned by over 50% of the populace.

      It is a tough world out there.

      • Trouble with the Greens is they have broadened their benevolence to the rest of the world. Sadly it’s just not possible to help everyone. There’s just too many people.

        Populating Australia is our biggest problem and it will bring us all down. Every single one of us.

        Populating Australia is the dumbest thing any country has willingly done, ever.

      • The Greens support an environmentally sustainable population for Australia.

        The Greens, however, were the only ones to stand up against the disgraceful budget cuts in foreign aid to the poorest of the poor across the world.

        As Australia trails down to 0.32% of Gross National Income for foreign aid, of all people, David Cameron and his cash strapped country, still emerging from the the GFC, has hit the gold standard for foreign aid of 0.7% of GNI.

        Don’t be fooled, Abbott and Hockey are two of the cheapest Christian politicians you are ever likely to come across. And I haven’t heard a peep from the third Jesuit-educated member of this group, Bill Shorten.

      • ” Abbott and Hockey are two of the cheapest Christian politicians”

        Agree and they are far more than that.

        In the long term, we cannot both populate AND provide foreign aid. We can do far, far, far far far more good by not populating Australia.

        Every single person that comes here reduces our ability to help poor people ten fold.

      • ”The Libs hate and are contemptuous of the destitute and then the poor. They don’t like the battlers either.”

        And they work really really hard to make
        a) Them even more poor and
        b)Make more of them.

        and to note, its moving up the food chain re the deliberate house price situation. Labour has not latched onto this one yet on account of not wanting to upset the champagne socialists (themselves at the top included)

      • and that’s a good idea is it?

        Great logic – so public servants have this unaffordable privilege – so hey he’s a cracking idea – won’t don’t we impose in on the whole economy …

        What is you point with this 3d ….

        BTW – the counter to that is that PPL is part of the suite of benefits offered to attract people to the public service – possibly if it was not offered – the wages offered might have needed to be higher. It’s very different from imposing on the economy – right as Australia’s competitiveness bottoms …

  3. Some where along the line i must have taken a wrong turn and traveled through an inter dimensional rift and emerged into a bizarro alternate universe.

    Where did i read this morning that Mr Crappbot and Miss Incredulin pushed the 6 month wait for the dole despite opposition of the ministers. Now cutting 200 million in funding for agencies who help the most needy, and probably have volunteer staff that work for nothing as well. Its those volunteer agencies that probably save the govt millions in welfare claims in the long term.

    Im probably alone in saying this, but WTF is going on with our govt spending so much time and effort trying to save a pair of drug dealers. Its a shame they cant spend just as much time and effort for the needy in this country. All the hand wringing and crocodile tears over those two make me sick. Those pathetic labor ministers and pseudo celebrities with all their protesting over those two need to take a long hard look at the misery caused by the filthy product they wanted to get rich on. Its a shame they cant be bothered getting all fired up about that.

    • http://www.watoday.com.au/comment/ironore-pay-delay-will-not-save-government-20150216-13f931.html

      “Astonishingly, our broke government is expanding its earlier corporate welfare decisions by deciding it can afford to delay being paid for some of the iron ore mined in, and exported from, WA.

      In the warped world of government, asking a casino owner to chip in for a footy ground adjacent to his premises blurs the sharp distinction between business and government, but bailing out mining companies does not.

      Some iron-ore miners will get access to a $60 million taxpayer funded bail-out package, but you could be forgiven for not noticing, because these welfare payments were announced just five days before Christmas.”

      See this is ok. But dammed if we can spend any money on the poor.

    • You are not alone. When I heard bird brains Abbott and Credlin could actual walk into a room and put in train an attack on Australia’s proud history of the social safety net for those overlooked for work by the industrial system- so people have $37 a day to shelter, eat and clothe themselves, I knew Australia had become a cruel, stupid Boganville.

      But I wouldn’t speak against commutation of the death penalty to a lengthy prison sentence.l

    • Agree AM. Our leftwing media-brigade has manipulated our entire parliament into trying to save two drug peddling psychopaths who have already destroyed and damaged several lives. Rehabilitating psychopaths is a difficult to impossible process. What is this…… me thinks this is some distorted form of false-flag?

      • Agree AM. Our leftwing media-brigade has manipulated our entire parliament into trying to save two drug peddling psychopaths who have already destroyed and damaged several lives.

        I am struggling to see any more effort being expended here than during previous attempts to extract Australians who had managed to get themselves onto death row somewhere.

        Widespread condemnation of capital punishment has been the standard response of our body politic for decades.

        Though perhaps there’s slightly more response here after the disgraceful behaviour of the federal police in allowing them to leave the country in the first place.

    • Its a shame they cant be bothered getting all fired up about that.

      Most of the problems around illegal drugs exist because they are illegal, not because they are drugs.

  4. And yet in a pure act of desperation we’ll see a $200M boost to cashed up pensioners.

    Even when vote buying this government cant help but screw the less well off.

  5. If we include the family home in the assets test, that will incentivise (sic) the Government to pursue policies which will increase house prices. After all, the higher the house price, the lower the cost of pensions. Higher prices, higher reverse mortgages, more Rhine cruises.

    Of course, once the principle of including a home in the assets test is established, let’s extend it to renters. Wherever the rental is less than a deemed percentage of the capital cost of the home, the difference should be counted as income, and Newstart and Austudy slashed accordingly.

    Of course, we could trust government to be fair about this, couldn’t we?

    I have no possibility of ever getting the pension, so this would obviously benefit me greatly. But happy for it to happen if that’s what people want.

      • ab that would be fair comment if it were not for the fact that government here does exactly that. Ever heard of bracket creep?

        Further, there is a serious point that renters and owners are treated differently when assessing the pension eligibility. So, if there is a major change such as inclusion of the family home, why would it not be good policy to make both owners and renters have the value of the residence included? After adjustment for rent paid? There’s no slippery slope there, its something that should be happening now to correct the different treatment of renters and owner occupiers.

        The only thing I wrote that might be a bit of a stretch is whether or not the Feds would work to increase land prices to increase revenue. Even then, with the States doing precisely that to increase stamp duty, it’s not much of a slope, slippery or otherwise.

    • You’ll find the opposite : ‘potential pensioners’ will sell their home to get the pension, causing property prices to drop.

      • Where will they live if they sell their homes?

        More likely they will take out a reverse mortgage and stay there. If a reverse mortgage was priced like an immediate annuity, it could fund quite a good lifestyle.

  6. The Libs think they have achieved everything through hard work and like to sprout that anyone can do it and to punidh those who cannot, just n case they are malingering.

    They ignore that for every person with an IQ of 125 there is a person with an IQ of 75.

    They ignore that some people come from famiiles of high socio economic status and go to private schools where they are already networking with others in the same group and that they will likely mix in this group all their lives, mostly through the luck of birth a) into Australia and b) into a highish socio-economic status family.

    They ignore that 30% of Australians will inherit half a house with no payment of any taxes, while another 30% come from famiies that don’t own a house, so the first group have higher disposable income much of their adult lives just through the luck of their birth.

    They ignore that mental illness strikes about 20% of Australians and that mental illness is one of the major causes of lost years of productive capacity for people.

    When youth unemployment is running at 15 to 20% in some places they think that withholding unemployment relief is the solution rather than providing minimum wage jobs so that work habits can be learnt and maintained, skills and socilaisation learnt and improved and memebers of the community reap the benefits of the labour of these otherwise unemployed.

    Abbott and Hockey must go.

    • Yes, this is all true. In fact I have noticed this over many decades, that, those with massive privilege do not see it and assume its all down to their hard work and otherwise just normal opportunity and that everyone else must be lazy.
      Some eg’s I have witnessed (there are many more)
      Girl came to share our flat in London, already owned one as a 21’st present but rented it out to move to London. Daddy had also gotten her a job at the BBC (and that is the only way in for many of the middle level jobs there) She had also had private education.
      In my many conversations with her, she was adamant that everything she had and been given was just normal and mostly down to her hard work and other people were just lazy.
      eg 2. A long time friend of mine was given a massive deposit for a house when he was 19 by granny, he bought the house, rented it out and by the time he was 25 he had paid it off (while living at home rent free). He was also given a car when he got his licence (this took me 3 years to save for). I said at the time that the deposit and the car he got put him more than a decade ahead of me, his response was that it was his hard work all along and in fact he joined the Liberal party to mix with similar privilege.
      This is how the Libs see us all, after all this is how they grew up, completely oblivious to the reality for a big chunk of the population.