Drastic cuts and a budget emergency …or just the Liberals’ wish list?

By Athena Mylonas

The Commission of Audit’s recommendations could save the budget tens of billions of dollars a year and achieve a surplus of 1 per cent by 2023, according to the Abbott government.

Everyone stands to be affected, with either higher taxes or reduced services. The treasurer, Joe Hockey, says the report proves the Coalition “inherited a mess”, with $123 billion in projected deficits over four years.

“The challenge now is to get on with the job of fixing the mess, and we will,” Mr Hockey said.

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says it will increase the cost of living for “hard-working” Australians.

Abbott will turn the most basic things in life – education, health care, and support for older Australians – into a massive everyday struggle for working families.”

Contradicting the Abbott Government’s claims of a budget emergency, HSBC Chief Economist Paul Bloxham said: “I don’t think you could make the case that there is a budget crisis.”

“We don’t need a surplus tomorrow,” said Chris Richardson, Economist and Partner at Deloitte Access Economics. “The politics would tend to suggest moving earlier rather than later, but on the economics there’s no rush.”

In the firing line will be family payments, childcare, health care, education, unemployment and pension payments, aged care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Some key recommendations:

  • Raise age pension age to 70 by 2053
  • A $15 co-payment fee for GP visits
  • Include family home in pension means test from 2027
  • Slow roll-out of NDIS
  • Allow states to impose personal income tax surcharge, offset by reduction in federal rates
  • Abolish Family Tax Benefit Part B and a tighter eligibility means test for Part A
  • Lower paid parental leave scheme salary cap to average week earnings (currently $57,460) and use savings for expanded child care payments, extended to include nannies.
  • Privatise Australia Post, Snowy Hydro, NBN co and Defence Housing; among other government-owned enterprises
  • Abolish the ABC operated Asia Pacific television network, Australia Network

The budget will be handed down on May 13.

Featured image: In the firing line – education. Photo: Brad Flickinger/flickr

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