Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts

Monday, 18 June 2018

The Australian Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs put a dog whistle to his lips and blew hard last week



This is Australian Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Liberal MP for Aston and child of British migrant parents, Alan Edward Tudge, quoted by ABC News on 14 June 2018:

The Federal Government is considering new English language requirements for anyone seeking permanent residency, with figures showing close to 1 million people in Australia cannot speak basic English.

Australia accepts up to 190,000 permanent migrants each year and while they need to prove they can understand English, their spouses, children and extended family accompanying them do not.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge argued this had created the "concerning situation" where "close to a million" Australians now do not speak the national language.

"That's not in the interests of those migrants but nor is it in the interests of social cohesion, because if we can't communicate with one another, it's very difficult to integrate," he said.

So there are “close to a million” Australians who don’t speak English, are there?

Although the article mention the 2016 Census it is unclear if Alan Tudge has actually read the English proficiency data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

As is usual for a Coalition minister, he is applying a dog whistle to his lips and blowing hard.

This is what that census actually revealed:

*In the Australia in 2016 there were 2,071,384 females and 1,997,244 males who spoke another language at home who reported they spoke English well or very well;

*Another 460,039 females and 359,882 males who spoke another language at home reported a degree of difficulty in speaking English;

*That’s a total of 819,922 people stating a degree of difficulty or 3.5% of a population of 23,401,907 persons counted at the 2016 Census; and

*Of the number who had difficulty in speaking English only 193,036 (aged 0 to 85 years and over) spoke no English at all - that’s 0.82% of the entire Australian population.

So what any reasonable person can say with regard to English proficiency is that a total of 193,036 people from a non-English speaking background, ranging from newborns up to the very old do, not speak any English.

That number is 806,964 short of being one million - it's not even "close to a million".

As a ploy for presenting yet another bill to parliament which allows denial of permanent residency or denial of citizenship to migrants from non-English speaking countries, Alan Tudge’s argument is full of holes.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

The journey towards a name change for Coutts Crossing begins.....


In November 1847 Clarence Valley grazier Thomas Coutts disgruntled by what he thought was a failure of local authority to act on his complaints, angry that his cattle herd had diminished over the space of eight years allegedly due to cattle theft and irritated at the size of his wages bill - all of which he blamed on local Aboriginal family groups living on 'his' property - decided to take action.

According to media reports at the time it soon became common knowledge that Coutts "had poisoned some aborigines" and this was eventually reported to the Commissioner of Crown Lands who, after visiting the group who had been given poisoned flour, hearing their account, arrested Thomas Coutts based on an affidavit sworn by one of his servants. 



One hundred and seventy year later on13 June 2018 The Daily Examiner reported:

Coutts Crossing could have two names and a memorial to the 23 Aboriginal people murdered by the man the town is named after, following a meeting called to discuss proposals to rename the village.

Prospects for a name change for the village have gathered pace since Daily Examiner indigenous columnist Janelle Brown’s article two weeks ago detailed how colonial settler Thomas Coutts murdered 23 Aboriginal people with arsenic-laced flour he gave as payment for work on his property at Kangaroo Creek in 1848.

Yesterday, about 40 people – indigenous and European – met at the Gurehlgam Centre in Grafton to discuss the next steps in proposing a name change for the village. The meeting did not produce formal resolutions, but the debate uncovered key areas to work on.

These included a proposal to include a traditional twin name for the village and to build a memorial in the village for the victims of the atrocity.

“I didn’t know I would get the amount of kick back from the article,” said Ms Brown, who led the meeting.

“But it’s good. It’s time to have these conversations and look at things like a name change for Coutts Crossing.

“What happened at Kangaroo Creek was a horrendous thing and not good for the Clarence Valley.

“It’s not good for a town to be named after a mass murderer.”

She said research into Gumbaynggir language revealed the original name for the area had been Daam Miirlarl, which meant a special place for yams.

However, she was reluctant to push this name as an alternative until there was further discussion among indigenous people about it.

Coutts Crossing resident Cr Greg Clancy said yesterday’s meeting was an initial step to move toward a name change.

“It’s not something that is going to happen next week,” he said.

Cr Clancy also made an apology for the deputy mayor Jason Kingsley, who was also the council’s delegate to the Aboriginal Consultative Committee. He said working through the council committee could be the best way to bring the push for a name change to the council.

Cr Clancy said the work of local historian and environmentalist John Edwards left no doubt Thomas Coutts murdered the 23 Gumbaynggir people with poisoned flour.

“In his book The History of the Coutts Crossing and Nymboida Areas, the chapter on the Kangaroo Creek massacre has all the transcripts from the court case,” he said.

“Its evidence is conclusive, but the case could not go ahead because the court at the time could not hear evidence from Aboriginal witnesses.”

The current owner of the property on which the massacre occurred, John Maxwell, had nothing positive to say about the original owner.

“What he did was cynical beyond belief,” Mr Maxwell said. “To poison 6kg of flour and give it to people, knowing they would take it home and kill a huge number more of their family, is too terrible to consider.”….

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Is there growing emphasis on religious faith in Australian politics?


On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Commonwealth, state and territories law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion.

The Panel accepted submissions, but held no public hearings and published no list of witnesses.

The Panel delivered its report on 18 May 2018 and on that same day the Prime Minster made it clear that he had no intention of making the report’s findings public in the near future.

As we wait to find out whether the religious far-right has captured the castle here is a brief look back at comment on religion in politics ......

The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April 2004:

God is appearing in more and more places around the Federal Parliament, and among all sorts of people….

God moves in mysterious ways, and never more so than when He moves into politics. On Thursday, for example, the Liberal Party announced that its candidate for the seat of Greenway, centred around Blacktown, would be Louise Markus, a prominent member of Hillsong, Australia's largest church.

The US-style, high-energy, hand-clapping Pentecostal church, which draws its people from the Bible belt of Sydney's north-western suburbs, attracts more than 15,000 people each Sunday. Its Friday night youth meetings reportedly draw 2000, its children's meetings some 1600 and its women-only gatherings more than 1000.

The church is as entrepreneurial as it is evangelical, constantly seeking to expand its influence through CDs, books and other media. And now it might be in line to claim its second federal MP. It already has Alan Cadman, the fiercely right-wing member for Mitchell - which includes Baulkham Hills, the epicentre of Hillsong influence - as a prominent member of the flock. Greenway, which adjoins Cadman's seat, is held by Labor's Frank Mossfield, but is highly marginal, and the sitting member is retiring at the election.

You might have thought someone standing for such a marginal seat would want all the media attention he or she could get, but the Liberals' state director, Scott Morrison, refused to let the Herald talk to her. He said she would do "local media first".

Instead Morrison, himself a man of "strong religious views", launched into a pitch for the type of "faith-based programs" that Hillsong had established to address social problems.

"In the [United] States there is an increasing tendency of governments - particularly the Bush Government - to get behind what are called faith-based programs," he enthused.

"That is where governments start to lift the constraints on the Noffses and the Bill Crewses and others, to enable them to really help people, beyond just the material, and give them life advice which involves faith. Those programs, I understand, have had some great success."

Markus works for Emerge, the Hillsong offshoot whose facilities and programs range from medical centres and emergency relief services to drug and alcohol programs, and personal development and recovery programs.

The CEO there, Leigh Coleman, would not put us in contact with Markus, either. And so the views of the Hillsong employee and Liberal candidate on the desirability of passing responsibility for social welfare issues from secular government agencies to religious organisations must for now remain a mystery.

Perhaps some light will be shed when the chief pastor of Hillsong, Brian Houston, addresses Federal Parliament's Christian fellowship prayer breakfast when next it meets, in about a month.

A bigger mystery, however, is the movement of God into the NSW Young Liberals. In this case, however, God wears not the toothy smile of a Pentecostal "happy clapper" but the dour face of the arch-conservative Catholic organisation, Opus Dei.

Warrane College was established in 1971. It is a residential college affiliated to the University of NSW and owned by the not-for-profit Educational Development Association. Pastoral care for its 125 young men (women are not permitted past the ground floor) is "entrusted" to Opus Dei, a prelature of the Catholic Church.

Warrane College is also the "home" address of about one-quarter of the membership of the Randwick/Coogee branch of the Young Liberals. Of 88 members enrolled in the Young Libs branch, 21 list the college or its post-office box as their address, according to a membership list seen by the Herald….

Parliament of Australia, Papers on Parliament No. 46, December 2006:

Religion and politics has a long and often controversial history in Australia, most of it associated with Christianity. One resolution of the relationship came with the incorporation into the Constitution of s. 116. That section reads:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

In discussions of the religious component of twentieth century Australian politics most attention has been given not to constitutional issues but to the link between denominations and parties in voting and representation, Catholics with Labor and Protestants with the Coalition, as well as the denominational character of the Labor Party Split of the 1950s that produced the Democratic Labor Party. Professor Judith Brett, for instance, begins her survey of the literature as follows:
It has long been recognised that the foundation of the Australian party system had a religious dimension, with an affinity between the main Australian nonlabour parties and Protestantism and between the Labor Party and Roman Catholicism…..

The Howard government is the first federal Coalition government in which Catholics have played a major role. While this fact has been commented on from time to time, sometimes it is submerged under the exaggerated concentration on the religious affiliation and personal religious background of just one of its senior ministers, Tony Abbott. This concentration culminated in the reportage of the February 2006 debates about the so-called ‘abortion drug’ RU-486 (see below). The general trend is of greater significance, however, than the role of any one individual.

Historically Catholic representation in the Coalition parties was minimal, almost non-existent, and there was active antipathy towards Catholic MPs such as Sir John Cramer as late as the 1950s. Professor Joan Rydon notes ‘the almost negligible Catholic component of the non-Labor parties’ in her survey of the Commonwealth Parliament from 1901 to 1980. Representation of Catholics in the Fraser ministry (1975–83) was still minimal, though it did include Philip Lynch, Fraser’s deputy for a time. But it had jumped dramatically 13 years later in both the Liberal and National parties. National Party Catholics have included two Deputy Prime Ministers, Tim Fischer and Mark Vaile. Senior Liberal Party Catholics have included Abbott, Brendan Nelson, Helen Coonan, Joe Hockey and Kevin Andrews to name just some current senior ministers. Prominent Catholics earlier in the Howard era included Communications minister, Richard Alston, Resources and Energy minister, Warwick Parer, and Aboriginal Affairs minister, John Herron. By 2006, other Catholics included new minister, Senator Santo Santoro, and up and coming parliamentary secretaries such as Robb himself, Malcolm Turnbull and Christopher Pyne. One step behind were senators George Brandis and Brett Mason. Prominent in another way has been Senator Bill Heffernan, the Prime Minister’s outspoken NSW party ally and one-time parliamentary secretary. The overall change has been remarkable.

By contrast, the place of Catholics in their ‘traditional’ party, Labor, seems much diminished and less obvious, despite Kim Beazley’s family connections with the church and Kevin Rudd’s Catholic origins. Many of them appeared to be isolated in the Catholic right faction, especially the NSW Right, and the party’s culture and history did not encourage them to emphasise their religious belief, because it stirred internal party divisions and conflict. Furthermore, anti-Catholic prejudice had become endemic in the Victorian branch of the party following the Labor Party split. As a consequence there is hardly a major federal Labor figure whose Catholic identity seems important. Most of the leading humanists in the Parliament are in the Labor Party and several of them, led by Dr Carmen Lawrence, formed a cross-factional Humanist Group in September 2000 to counter what they saw as the growing influence of religion in parliamentary debates and decisions…..

The public presentation of personal religious beliefs, now widespread in public life, is of equal interest to the denominational changes that have taken place. More than any other federal government the senior members of the Howard government have been active, in word and deed, in emphasizing (or at least being open about) its religious credentials and beliefs and in emphasizing the positive contribution of Christian values to Australian society. One has only to compare the publicly Christian approach of the Howard-Anderson-Costello-Abbott team, for instance, to the privately Christian, even secular, approach of the Fraser-Anthony-Lynch team in the 1970s to see that this is true.

The reason for this change might include a combination of the so-called international clash between fundamentalist Islam and Western Christian nations together with the particular personalities that just happen to have emerged in leadership positions in the Coalition. Howard himself, it should be noted, has not been the leading figure in this development, despite the attention given to his personal Methodism-cum-Anglicanism. Perhaps decreasing sectarianism has played a part.

Nevertheless, whatever its origins, this has occurred to the extent that following the 2004 federal election it drew a response from Labor in the form of Foreign Affairs shadow minister, Kevin Rudd, who formed a party discussion group on religion, faith and values to educate Labor colleagues and to warn them very publicly about the dangers of allowing the Coalition to capture the growing religious vote. Rudd and other Labor figures, while revealing a typical Labor wariness of the mix of religion and politics, believed that ‘the Coalition is intent on exploiting religion for political purposes.’ At the 2004 election the contrast with Labor had been made somewhat clearer because Labor leader, Mark Latham, was a declared agnostic. Latham was privately dismissive of religion and these views became public on the publication of his diaries. This has led Anglican Bishop Tom Frame to claim that in recent years ‘Labor leaders have exhibited an open disdain for all things religious.’ By 2005 the new Labor leader, Kim Beazley, a Christian himself, had overcome his traditional aversion to mixing religion and politics by speaking about his own faith at an Australian Christian Lobby conference in Canberra….

Religion and politics is also more prominent, though not widespread, in public appointments. The most controversial Howard government appointment in this context has been that of Archbishop Peter Hollingworth as Governor-General in June 2001. Hollingworth at the time of his appointment was Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane…..

The most recent development in religion and politics has been the emergence of the Family First Party. The emergence of this new party at the 2004 federal election was just one aspect of the larger relationship between the Howard government and evangelical Christians. Despite the success of FFP it remains a less significant phenomenon than the direct influence of evangelical Christians within the Coalition. Evangelical lobby groups, like the emerging Australian Christian Lobby, are another notable element of this evangelical story……

Hansard, excerpt from Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison’s maiden speech in the House of Representatives, 14 February 2008:

I turn now to the most significant influences on my life—my family and my faith.

Family is the stuff of life and there is nothing more precious. I thank my family members here in the gallery today for their support. It is my hope that all Australians could have the same caring and supportive environment that was provided to me by my parents, John and Marion Morrison, and my late grandparents, Mardie and Sandy Smith and Douglas and Noel Morrison, whom I honour in this place today. My parents laid the foundation for my life. Together with my brother, Alan, they demonstrated through their actions their Christian faith and the value they placed on public and community service. In our family, it has never been what you accumulate that matters but what you contribute. I thank them for their sacrifice, love and, above all, their example. To my wife, Jenny, on Valentine’s Day: words are not enough. She has loved and supported me in all things and made countless sacrifices, consistent with her generous, selfless and caring nature. However, above all, I thank her for her determination to never give up hope for us to have a child. After 14 years of bitter disappointments, God remembered her faithfulness and blessed us with our miracle child, Abbey Rose, on the seventh of the seventh of the seventh, to whom I dedicate this speech today in the hope of an even better future for her and her generation.

Growing up in a Christian home, I made a commitment to my faith at an early age and have been greatly assisted by the pastoral work of many dedicated church leaders, in particular the Reverend Ray Green and pastors Brian Houston and Leigh Coleman. My personal faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda. As Lincoln said, our task is not to claim whether God is on our side but to pray earnestly that we are on His. For me, faith is personal, but the implications are social—as personal and social responsibility are at the heart of the Christian message. In recent times it has become fashionable to negatively stereotype those who profess their Christian faith in public life as ‘extreme’ and to suggest that such faith has no place in the political debate of this country. This presents a significant challenge for those of us, like my colleague, who seek to follow the example of William Wilberforce or Desmond Tutu, to name just two. These leaders stood for the immutable truths and principles of the Christian faith. They transformed their nations and, indeed, the world in the process. More importantly, by following the convictions of their faith, they established and reinforced the principles of our liberal democracy upon which our own nation is built.

Australia is not a secular country—it is a free country. This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose. Secularism is just one. It has no greater claim than any other on our society. As US Senator Joe Lieberman said, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion. I believe the same is true in this country.

So what values do I derive from my faith? My answer comes from Jeremiah, chapter 9:24:
... I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord.

From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family. We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil. Desmond Tutu put it this way:

... we expect Christians ... to be those who stand up for the truth, to stand up for justice, to stand on the side of the poor and the hungry, the homeless and the naked, and when that happens, then Christians will be trustworthy believable witnesses.

These are my principles. My vision for Australia is for a nation that is strong, prosperous and generous: strong in our values and our freedoms, strong in our family and community life, strong in our sense of nationhood and in the institutions that protect and preserve our democracy; prosperous in our enterprise and the careful stewardship of our opportunities, our natural environment and our resources; and, above all, generous in spirit, to share our good fortune with others, both at home and overseas, out of compassion and a desire for justice.

ABC Radio National, 3 September 2008:

Well the Australians are going back in history. The first guy to get involved was man named Norman Makin who was actually not considered a right-winger, he was a long-time Ambassador to the United States, but was an early Cold warrior and saw The Family as a useful vehicle for working with the Conservative side of American politics during the Cold War. More recently, I would just bump into - in the documents -minor Australian politicians, Bruce Baird, a fellow named Ross Cameron, and I suppose Peter Costello has been involved, and I don't know how involved and I just, that's not something I followed up on……


The religious makeup of Australia has changed gradually over the past 50 years. In 1966, Christianity (88 per cent) was the main religion. By 1991, this figure had fallen to 74 per cent, and further to the 2016 figure. Catholicism is the largest Christian grouping in Australia, accounting for almost a quarter (22.6 per cent) of the Australian population.

Australia is increasingly a story of religious diversity, with Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and Buddhism all increasingly common religious beliefs. Hinduism had the most significant growth between 2006 and 2016, driven by immigration from South Asia.

The growing percentage of Australia’s population reporting no religion has been a trend for decades, and is accelerating. Those reporting no religion increased noticeably from 19 per cent in 2006 to 30 per cent in 2016. The largest change was between 2011 (22 per cent) and 2016, when an additional 2.2 million people reported having no religion…..

The Conversation, 21 August 2017:

Even though the 2016 Census revealed that more than 30% of the Australian population identify as having “no religion” – a label that overtook the Catholic faith figure – Christianity’s effect on Australian politics is far from waning.
Surprisingly, Christians currently number more than 40% of the Coalition government and about 30% of the Labor opposition. This is high for a nation labelled “secular”….

 Kevin RuddTony Abbott and former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi moved Christian values from the periphery to the centre when they declared their strong convictions on faith and policy….

When federal parliament is in session, the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship meets fortnightly, with about 60 members from all sides of politics in attendance. This is more than a quarter of total parliamentary members.

Not all Christians in parliament choose to attend the fellowship. Anecdotal evidence suggests that guest speakers, prayer and Bible studies with focused discussions are regular features of these meetings.

2. Faith-based delivery of social and community services

The government has outsourced approximately two-thirds of community services to faith-based agencies at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars…..

The Age, 18 May 2018:

A senior Mormon recently elected to a powerful position in the Victorian Liberal Party has been accused of not being a legitimate member, fuelling tensions over the rising influence of ultra-conservatives in the state branch.

Three weeks after winning a coveted spot on the party’s administrative committee, infectious diseases specialist Dr Ivan Stratov has had his membership thrown into doubt, amid allegations that he did not get the necessary approval to join the Liberals after initialling running as a Family First candidate at the state election in 2010….

The Age, 3 June 2018:

He’s the most unlikely Liberal Party powerbroker.

The son of a leftist migrant from the Soviet Union; brought up atheist in Melbourne’s suburbs; the first Mormon missionary to baptise new believers in Ukraine in the early 1990s.

But nearly three decades later, HIV specialist and doctor Ivan Stratov is part of a new conservative wave that’s seizing power in the Victorian branch.

An Age investigation has confirmed with senior church sources that at least 10 of the 78 people elected to the Liberals’ administrative bodies at the party’s April state council are Mormons.

This amounts to nearly 13 per cent of all those now in key positions within the Liberals’ organisational wing, compared to just 0.3 per cent of all Australians who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Combined with conservative Catholics, evangelical Christians from churches such as Victory Faith Centre and City Builders, the religious right-wing now has unprecedented sway in Liberal Party politics.

And Stratov – a senior Mormon who won a coveted spot on the administrative committee – is their most influential figure.

When conservative Liberals embarked on an anti-Safe Schools roadshow across Victoria last year to highlight concerns about the program, Stratov was a headline act.

When state MPs debated changing euthanasia laws, the scientist whose papers are peer reviewed, sat on a panel at the party’s Exhibition Street headquarters warning them against it…..

And when acolytes of new state vice-president Marcus Bastiaan and federal MP Michael Sukkar embarked on a takeover of the Victorian branch, Stratov was one of Bastiaan's key lieutenants…..

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

New gun amnesty period for unregistered firearms underway in NSW until 30 September 2018


In 2016 there were est. 872,662 registered and unregistered firearms in New South Wales.

Although that is a much lower number than the 1.09 million that were in the community in 1999, it still represents 11.42 firearms for every 100 people in the state.

The highest number of guns were in rural and regional NSW.


Of which est. 7,829  were held by residents in the Grafton post code area along with 5,958 in Lismore, 3,916 in Kyogle, 1,378 in Ballina, 396 in Byron Bay, 376 in Tweed Heads, post code areas. 

That's an awful lot of guns in major towns in the Northern Rivers region.

Perhaps now is the time to consider whether gun ownership (or the number of guns owned) is strictly necessary for your business or leisure activities and, consider if this amnesty is a way to remove a handgun or rifle from your home.

NSW Police Public Site, 1 June 2018:

NSW FIREARM AMNESTY YOUR CHANCE TO SURRENDER OR REGISTER ILLEGAL GUNS

The NSW Police Force, with the support of the NSW Government, will conduct a state-wide Firearms Amnesty following the success of last year’s national campaign.
During the three-month period in 2017, NSW netted 24,831 firearms and 1898 firearm parts for destruction, sale or registration – more than any other state or territory – prompting another operation to reduce the number of unregistered and unwanted firearms in the community.

Anyone with an unregistered firearm or firearm-related item in their possession will have the chance to legally dispose, or register it, without penalty between 1 July and 30 September 2018.

Firearms and firearm-related items can be surrendered under amnesty arrangements at approved drop-off points, which include licensed firearm dealers, mobile stations, and police stations.

Under no circumstances should loaded firearms be taken into public places – including police stations.

Anyone with concerns about handling firearms or safely transporting them, can contact the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry on 1300 362 562 for assistance.

Results from the National Firearms Amnesty are available at www.homeaffairs.gov.au.

Anyone with information concerning gun crime in NSW should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. We don't need to know who you are; all we need is the information you have to hand. It may just help us get illegal guns of the street, and save lives in the process.

Contact Details
Firearms Registry Customer Service Line: 1300 362 562 (9.00am-4.00pm Monday to Friday - except Public Holidays)

General Email Address: firearmsenq@police.nsw.gov.au

Friday, 11 May 2018

Entrenching inequality in the Australian way of life


There are no real winners in this 2018-19 federal budget – everyone loses something because funding/staffing cuts include services which affect the smooth running of the country, such as regulatory oversight, law, policing and communication. 

Partial winners in the longterm are those in the two highest income/asset deciles. The Anthony Pratts, Gina Rineharts, 'Twiggy' Forrests, Bruce Mathiesons, Malcolm Turnbulls and Peter Duttons of this world.

Those losing the most are low income households, especially those dependent on welfare payments and those with an annual  salary/wage between $41,000 to $87,000 because they will be assessed under the same tax rate as now but with less of the tax benefit pie on their plates in the future.


Federal Budget 2018 Facts of Life - a non-exhaustive list

* Funding in this budget does not fully compensate for funding cuts and tax increases in the last three federal budgets.

* Cuts from previous budgets are still impacting on health services; education funding for schools and vocational studies have been reduced by a combined total of $17.27 billion, funds for the public broadcaster are frozen representing a loss of $84 million on top of $254 million in budget cuts since 2014.1

* Cuts are also occurring in:

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) with permanent funding  cut from $346 million to $320 million over two years and staff numbers reduced by 30 investigators in the next year.

Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with funding cut from $77.4 million to $73.75 million in two years.

The Australian Federal Police funding cut from $1.03 billion to $926 million within four years.2

* Although the federal government is contributing $43 billion, to fund what it calls its “share” of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) from 2018–19 to 2021–22, there is still no dedicated funding stream for NDIS.

* Rural, regional and remote area health is only receiving 16.66 million a year for five years to improve health outcomes in those areas across Australia – none of which appears to go directly to treatment of patients or additional services.

* Personal income tax cuts aren’t being offered to those on taxable incomes below $20,548 per annum. Those workers with a taxable income of $20,548 will receive $1 a year in income tax relief. It is reported that the full range of personal income tax relief (which provides the most benefit to the highest earners) will eventually cost est. $17.8 billion annually in lost government revenue if scheme continues until 2027.3

* Individuals earning $100,000 to $125,330 per annum now receive a low and middle income income tax offset despite being in high wage/salary deciles.

* There are estimated 101,508 older Australians on the waiting list for appropriate home care packages.4 At least 60,000 of these do not have even the initial lowest level of home care package and, all the federal government is offering is funding for an extra 14,000 high level packages still leaving 46,000 elder people with no hope of receiving assistance in the foreseeable future to keep living at home.

* There is a proposal to change the progressive tax system from 2018-19 so there are only four income tax brackets and people with incomes from $41,000 to $200,000 per annum will pay the same tax rate. This means that est. 62 per cent of future benefits would go to the highest salary/wage earners with only 7 per cent going to those on the lowest wage.
According to Budget Strategy and Outlook Budget Paper No. 1 2018-19; When completed, the plan ensures that about 94 per cent of taxpayers are projected to face a marginal tax rate of 32.5 per cent or less in 2024–25.

* People over retirement age receiving the Age Pension are being urged to consider funding part of their retirement through the Pension Loans Scheme which will be expanded on 1 July 2019, with the available fortnightly loan plus pension amount increasing to 150 per cent of the maximum rate of fortnightly Age Pension. The current maximum fortnightly pension amount is $907.60. This loan will normally be repaid when the secured real estate asset (usually the principal home) is sold or from the pensioner’s deceased estate.6

* This budget continues the funding model which skews federal primary and highschool funding towards private schools via the Quality Schools scheme with funding for government schools set at $7.6 billion and non-government schools at $11.8 billion in 2018-19 increasing to $9.6 billion and 13.8 billion in 2021-22 .7

* The Northern Territory remote area Aboriginal children and schooling component has been cut by over $47 million across the next four financial years.

*TAFE further technical education funding has been cut by $270 million on top of previous budget cuts.

* The Goods and Services Tax has been extended to cover online hotel bookings made via offshore websites. This is expected to raise $5 million in the 2019-20 financial year.

* Mobile blackspot program funding ceases in 2019.8

* The cashless debit card trial in Ceduna (South Australia) and East Kimberley (Western Australia) will be extended for another year to 30 June 2019. The federal government refuses to make the costs of this measure public.

* Part or all of a welfare payment will be withheld to clear a welfare recipients court fines or address arrest warrants.

* There has been no increase in unemployment benefits.

* Women & girls necessary sanitary products are still subject to a consumption tax payable at the supermarket/chemist checkout.

* Finally, the Turnbull Government cracked a joke in the budget papers – a new National Energy Guarantee is expected to reduce annual residential power bills by $400 at some unspecified date in the future.9

Footnotes: