Current Date:October 31, 2020

Budget Reply: UTAS Labor Society

Unsurprisingly, #Budget2020 has ignored students and the issues we face while studying. 
 
On Tuesday, Josh Frydenberg handed down his second budget as Treasurer of Australia. 
 
This is a Budget of big words and little action. The Treasurer was quick to make the point that, “Australians, through no fault of their own, are doing it tough.” The Treasurer is correct on that point. But what Frydenberg failed to mention is that the Morrison Liberal Government is not making it easier for them. 
 
No one disagrees that 2020 has been a year like no other. Across the world, over 600 million jobs have been lost, and Australia has not been spared from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Australia’s net debt will increase to $703 billion this year. It is widely understood that, in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Budget would blow out far past expectations. However, if you’re going to blow the Budget, you should at least take the opportunity to support people while you’re at it.  
 
Frydenberg ranted endlessly about the tax cuts the Morrison Liberal Government is implementing. However, tax cuts don’t support students and young Australians who live below the poverty line and who don’t pay income tax. Students are taxpayers too, but their tax is paid in things like GST, not in income tax. Even if you do pay income tax, a person earning $50,000 per year will receive a tax cut of zero dollars in 2021-22 and $125 in 2024-25. This is compared to someone on $200,000 a year who will receive a $2,430 cut in 2021-22 and $11,505 in 2024-25. This Government is championing tax cuts that provide no support or financial assistance to most of us studying at UTAS. Great work there, Joshy.  
 
The fact is, the Morrison Government, under Frydenberg’s shaky monitoring of the Treasury, tries to bolster their position by saying that the current financial situation is worse than what was dealt with during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. This is correct. However, it was Morrison, Frydenberg, and their Liberal cronies who criticised Labor’s economic measures, which got us through that crisis without going into recession. Now, they’re applying Labor’s methods and trying to claim it as their own, without reflecting on their criticisms of days gone by.   
 

When it comes to the higher education sector, this Government is patting itself on the back for providing $1 billion in research funding for universities. It is as if we are expected to forget that, just hours before the Budget speech, the Government negotiated with Centre Alliance the passage of a Bill that will tear shreds from higher education in Australia. The higher education ‘reforms’ will see universities across Australia stripped of funding, including UTAS, and course costs will skyrocket. This means that many Tasmanians will be further discouraged and locked out from pursuing higher education. And if you do go to university, you will be paying off HECS debt for years. Make no mistake, this is the deliberate design of the policy. This is the goal of the Government. So much for the saying “if you have a go, you get a go.” This Government needs to go. They speak hollow words and provides nothing to help Australians. 

The Morrison Government is not the government for students. It is not the government for low- and middle-income families. This government betrays us, denies us a future, and does it while crooning about tax cuts which are solely designed to give the Liberal’s big business mates and donors more cash for their already full pockets, and which create a greater wealth divide between you and me, and the top end of town. Frydenberg says that under the Liberals “taxes will always be lower”. So too will the quality of public services, social safety nets, and support for the average Australian. 
 
Other than destroying higher education with a smile, the Government is also recycling key infrastructure projects in Tasmania like they are dad jokes at the family Christmas barbie. Upgrading the Sorell to Hobart corridor and the Midlands Highway were among renewed promises for Tasmanians. Promises we keep hearing time and time again, but we never see any results from them. Onya Frydo, you’re so good at recycling anyone would think you’re applying for a job with Veolia. 
 
In essence, this Budget failed to show how young Tasmanians would be supported. Young people need support now and into the future, so that we may beat the impacts of COVID-19 and live a successful future. The truth is, the Budget failed to show how young Tasmanians will be supported because the Government fails to support young Tasmanians. They have no plan for helping us. 
 
This Budget missed the mark entirely. Members of the Liberal Students Society need to have a look at themselves. Why are they supporting a government which doesn’t support them? 

Ben Dudman is the President of the UTAS Labor Society

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