Budget 2019: When a tax cut is the unkindest cut of all

Article published 2 April 2019

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“A one-off Energy Assistance Payment is about the only thing that pensioners and carers take away from a Budget that ignores the aged care, the inadequacy of Newstart, the lack of a decent national public dental scheme and the urgent need for affordable housing to be addressed at a national level”, said Paul Versteege, Policy Manager for the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association.

“In aged care, the Government keeps pandering to the nursing home industry by continuing pour nursing home places into the system rather than on making sure the demand for Home Care Packages is satisfied. Of the 128,000 people waiting for a Home Care Package, 90,000 also have approval to go into a nursing home, but none are moving into the 20,000 nursing home places that are currently spare. They prefer to wait for a Home Care Package, of which there will be tens of thousands too few by the end of the forward estimate period.

“There are 185,000 people over 55 trying to survive on Newstart. Most will never work again and will be living in poverty until pension age, when a slightly better kind of poverty kicks in. Those on Newstart also miss out on the one-off Energy Assistance Payment announced in this Budget: a miserly omission.

“A universal oral and dental health scheme is a can that this Budget kicks down the road an umpteenth time in the face of evidence that such a scheme would be beneficial in health, wellbeing and dollar terms for Australia. Those relying on the Age Pension, the DSP, Carer Payment and Newstart cannot afford to go to the dentist. They are doomed to suffering pain, social embarrassment and poor overall health outcomes.

“Homelessness is growing alarmingly and the evidence in the shape of rough sleepers in our big cities is there for anyone to see. The demolition of Australia’s social housing programs started in the 1950s is shaping up as an enduring national shame. This Budget proudly announces the raising of $300 million in social housing bonds: that’s in the order of 1,500 houses when social housing lists run in the tens of thousands.”

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