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Impact of the Budget on working families

May 15, 2014
I appreciate that as an ALP representative you are unlikely to support some of the measures announced in the Federal Budget. Nonetheless I am writing to you as my local Member of Parliament to outline my objections to the Budget proposals on a number of levels.
Firstly, the effect it will have on me and my family. I am a single mother of three who is currently employed full-time, therefore not relying on benefits other than Family Tax Benefit and child care concessions. However my full-time employment is on rolling contracts (with the State Government, who also announced cutbacks to the public service recently) and so I am only ever one step away from Newstart allowance and poverty. Whilst I support some changes to the Family Tax Benefit system (such as lowering the means-test limit), scrapping Part B without examining the system as a whole is not the way to go. This amount helps me, as a single parent on less than the average wage, to save money for emergencies or potential job loss. Additionally the increase in interest on HECS/FEE-HELP debts impacts women unfairly. As the primary carer for my children I watched as my ex-partner repaid his HECS debt with salary earned whilst I raised our children. At 31 I have only now begun to repay mine and on an income of $60000pa will be doing so for many years to come.
More importantly though, I am appalled at the attack this Budget is making on the truly vulnerable of Australia. We are not doing the “heavy lifting” equally. In particular I am concerned about no Newstart for 6 months for the young unemployed, the GP co-payments and increases to medication co-payments.
I was explaining to my 11 year old daughter, how this would work. I said, “imagine you finish high school (the private school to which I will pinch pennies to send her), go to university and graduate, and then you can’t find a job. Imagine that the government will not give you any money to live on while you keep trying your best to find one. That’s okay, you could live with me. Now imagine your parents lived in another country or that you had fought with them. What would you do?” Her answer? “That isn’t fair.”
No, it isn’t fair. The “earn or learn” argument is fallacious. I work in TAFE admissions and already with the fee increases many cannot afford it. VET-FEE-HELP helps somewhat but is not available for permanent residents, and some people simply don’t have the skills to do a diploma level course without some lower-level training first – for which they can’t access VET-FEE-HELP.
Please pass my concerns on to your party and do your best to block the passage of these bills.

This is the email I sent to my local Member. Somewhat unexpectedly, she not only read it but replied the very next morning AND had a staffer give me a call to see if I minded if she quoted it in Parliament. Well, look, quite frankly I’d prefer she could print it and stuff it down Joe Hockey’s throat but …

Disclaimer: I first met Alannah MacTiernan when I was about six years old and best friends with her daughter. We met again when my son was in the same class at a local school as her granddaughter. I have no idea if she recognised my name and that was why she paid attention to my email.

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