July 3, 2022

Budget Reply: UTAS Labor Society

“A budget should be as bold as the Australian people” – Bill Shorten MP.

Budgets announce a plan. They are visionary. They tell Australians where we have been, where we are, and how we are going to make a greater Australia for everyone. On Tuesday night, the Liberals failed to do this dramatically.

After 6 years of cuts and chaos, threatening students with university deregulation, a constant refusal to increase NEWSTART payments, and refusing to act on climate change, the Liberal/National coalition is trying to spruce a flimsy surplus to hide the fact that they have destroyed Australia. 

As students, we are struggling. We are living in poverty because the NEWSTART payment has not been raised since the 1990s. We are concerned about the future because our government doesn’t have a plan for climate change. And we are angry because our government is helping baby boomers buy their seventh house, while we can’t even land a rental property within a reasonable distance from our university. 

The Liberals are trying to tell you that they are there for us. But they aren’t. Because while they are giving us a small tax cut, the cut to our penalty rates is so much greater. We are not getting an increase to NEWSTART under the Liberals. We are still living in poverty. 

That’s where Labor comes in. Led by Bill Shorten, we have a real plan for Australia and a real plan for university students. 

Labor is providing better tax cuts for low-income earners. This includes a better tax cut for students. This tax cut is on top of our guarantee to restore penalty rates for all Australians within the first 100 days of forming government.

Labor will match funding for the Hobart City Deal. But we will also do more. The Liberals promised the people of Hobart $30 million for affordable housing. That is a drop in the ocean. Labor will build over 250,000 new homes nationally. We are committed to getting people off the streets and into affordable housing. We are committed to ensuring that all students have secure housing while they study.

The Liberals claim that they are the masters of the economy, but after 6 years wages are still stagnant, and the cost of living is rising higher than ever. Labor is going to improve wages and respond to the high cost of living by implementing a living wage. The Liberals won’t do this, but Labor will. Because Labor doesn’t want to see a single Australian living in poverty. Not in 2019.

The worst part of the Liberal Government’s budget was not it’s faux care for the average Australian, for students, for the battlers; it was the blatant cuts to the NDIS. The government stripped $1.6 billion from the NDIS to create a wafer-thin budget. The Liberals sacked the NDIS board, they delayed the state signing agreements, they cut NDIA staffing, and created a poor delivery of NDIS services. 

Labor will lift the cap on NDIA staff numbers and put people with disability at the heart of decision-making. Labor will fix the NDIS system and ensure it works for all Australians who need its support. 

One thing that was glaringly obvious in the government’s budget is the lack of a plan for climate change and renewable energy. The Liberals don’t believe in climate change and are willing to risk our future for their profits. 

Labor is ready to tackle climate change and make real change. Labor will reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. Labor will ensure we have 50% renewable energy by 2030. Labor will boost recycling and waste reduction while creating globally competitive industries. And Labor will strengthen our environmental laws and establish an independent national Environment Protection Authority. Climate action is the only way to secure our future, and Labor is serious about climate change. 

Labor has a vision for a better, brighter, and fairer Australia.

This is our vision. We are ready to build a better future for all Australians. Together, we can do it. 

Benjamin Dudman is the President of the University of Tasmania Labor Society.