Daily News - Tuesday 13 May 2014
Months of uncertainty will end for parts of the community sector when the federal budget is handed down on Tuesday night, with many services hoping their funding will be renewed.
Francis Lynch is the national president of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS). He is also the chief executive officer of Ruah, which runs community services in the areas of homelessness, domestic violence and mental health across metropolitan Perth.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned that all sectors of society must share the burden of getting the budget back into shape as the Federal Government juggles the challenges of falling revenues, weakening terms of trade, and an ageing population.
Here's what to look out for as Mr Hockey hands down what is expected to be one of the toughest budgets of recent years.
Budget 2014: Decoding the jargon; all the terms you need to know
Tim Leslie, ABC
Don't know your structural deficits from your bracket creeps? Ahead of the budget, ABC News Online has decoded all the economic jargon to help you understand what is in store this year.
What's driving the budget? It isn't Newstart, family or disability benefits
Peter Martin, The Age
Newstart, family tax benefits and the disability support pension – all targeted in the budget – are growing far more slowly than other government spending, a new analysis finds.
Prepared by the Australian Council of Social Service from estimates used by the Commission of Audit, the analysis finds total government spending on track to grow 3.7 per cent a year above the rate of inflation for the next decade.
Kevin Rudd’s failed social housing program tipped to get chop
Rick Wallace, The Australian ($)
The final round of Kevin Rudd’s trouble-plagued $4.5 billion social housing program is expected to be axed in today’s federal budget amid concerns about maladministration and exploitation of the program.
It is believed round five of the National Rental Affordability Scheme will be cancelled by the Abbott government, saving an estimated $1.2bn over 10 years in government incentive payments.
... Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews refused to confirm that round five was being scrapped in the budget, but said there had been problems with the scheme.
At budget time, remember we all live in subsidised housing
Dallas Rogers, The Conversation
The great Australian dream to own a house has long been underwritten by the great Australian housing subsidy. Whether you are a public or social housing tenant, a private renter or a homeowner, chances are your house was subsidised through a rental subsidy, housing grant or taxation credit. On budget night there will be housing winners and losers, but it’s worth remembering we all live in subsidised housing.
The budget will be big on infrastructure, but we need more than just roads
Garry Bowditch, The Conversation
The Abbott government is preparing to give Sydney’s WestConnex road project a A$2 billion boost in this week’s federal budget, part of a broader $10 billion infrastructure package aimed at boosting productivity and private sector investment.
The Greens have moved to reassert their opposition to the Federal Government's debt tax, in a bid to quash any speculation the minor party may have a change of heart.
Budget pain? Not for millionaires who pay no tax
Peter Martin, The Age
“Pain all round” will be the rallying cry of the night. Joe Hockey says this first budget - tonight - will hit everyone from high earners to politicians to Australians too poor to pay to see the doctor. All of us will have to “contribute budget repair”.
Except that we won’t.
The latest tax statistics show 75 ultra-high earning Australians paid no tax at all in 2011-12. Zero. Zip.
There will be lots to dazzle voters in tomorrow night’s Budget as Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey show they are no wimps when it comes to grandly reshaping the economy.
But ordinary families will be asked to shoulder much of the Government’s burden, and there will be key Budget measures — affecting basic household finances — you ought keep an eye on.
Slamming on the fiscal brakes isn't smart way to keep the economy moving
Greg Jericho, The Guardian
The economy that confronts the treasurer, Joe Hockey, as he frames Tuesday’s budget is much sunnier than he predicted it would be in last December’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (Myefo). But it remains fragile, so fragile that last week the RBA and OECD both warned of the impact of an austere budget that cut too hard too early.
Trauma and Homelessness Initiative reports
Sacred Heart Mission
The Trauma and Homelessness Initiative was a collaboration of four agencies that provide homelessness and mental health services in thecommunity: Sacred Heart Mission, MIND Australia, Inner South Community Health and VincentCare Victoria.
The aim of the project was to achieve better outcomes for people who are long-term homeless and have experienced trauma.
The agencies commissioned the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) at the University of Melbourne to look at the nature between the relationships of traumatic events in people's lives and their state of homelessness.
Based on their research, ACPMH has produced a framework for trauma-informed practice together with a worker guidebook.
Good relationships keep you healthier for longer
Anna Phillips, The Conversation
Arguments with the people we are close to can have a serious impact on our health and mortality rate, a new study has confirmed. The link between having supportive friends and family and serious health outcomes has long been recognised, but this research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health, takes our knowledge of the impact of relationships on health one step further by showing how stress can even impact on our life span.
What underlies public prejudice towards asylum seekers?
Anne Pedersen and Lisa Hartley
According to a poll taken last December, 60% of those surveyed think the Australian government should “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers”. What’s behind this negative sentiment (otherwise known as prejudice) towards asylum seekers in Australian society?”
Business can show the way on social issues, says Business Council of Australia CEO
Jennifer Westacott, speech to the Odyssey House Business Luncheon
Many organisations are looking at their CSR initiatives and asking: ‘Can we be more focused and have a bigger collective impact?’
I think there are two areas where business can show the way:
Firstly, I think it’s time for us to think about place-based disadvantage in Australia beyond Indigenous communities.
And, secondly, I think business must show the way in terms of our declining education standards.
Because if we don’t, our people will not have the skills and capability to keep themselves and our country competitive and prosperous.
We can’t wait for governments to fix this.
And of course, I believe we can and should do more to create mentally healthy workplaces and provide supportive environments for people living with a mental illness.
Joe Hockey’s retirement pitch overlooks a world of abundance
Dick Bryan and Michael Rafferty, The Conversation
In recent weeks, Joe Hockey has been floating the idea that in an “age of personal responsibility”, and in the context of a budget “crisis”, people will have to work longer before they receive the age pension. And to do so, they may also need to have used up all their superannuation and housing assets.
Naming a “crisis” is always a good way to introduce a hostile and unwelcome policy, for it engenders a taste for the unpalatable. But crises – real rather than contrived ones – are often also the times when real visions of a better future arise.
Reverse mortgages need a rethink if they’re the new age pension
Harry Scheule, The Conversation
The Commission of Audit has recommended including homes above a certain value in the means test that determines who gets the age pension and how much. Under the proposal, homes valued in excess of A$500,000 would be assessable for singles, while for couples the trigger would be A$750,000.
Faith and politics and ... economics?
Andrew West, The Drum
Most of the critical commentary about religiously motivated politicians focuses, predictably, on the cultural, or "life", agenda: same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia.
But these issues are, despite intense media coverage, rarities in Australian politics. Our election campaigns are not animated by the pro-life, pro-choice debates. Gay marriage may be an obsession with audiences on Q&A but it will occupy but a fraction of the Parliament's time.
What the commentariat - liberal and conservative - overlooks or misunderstands is the impact of religious teaching on our economic life.