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Agencies attack Australian Budget

23 May 2014

DEMOTIX

Roadblock: "March in May" protesters march through Sydney in protest against the Australian government's proposed budget cuts, on Sunday 

Roadblock: "March in May" protesters march through Sydney in protest against the Australian government's proposed budget cuts, on Sunday 

TWO Anglican agencies have strongly criticised aspects of the Federal Government's Budget, presented in the Australian Parliament last week.

Anglicare Australia, and the Brotherhood of St Laurence have attacked welfare cuts in particular.

In a range of decisions that have caused controversy, the Federal Budget has cut or abolished welfare support for the young unemployed and families, made significant changes to pension arrangements, and introduced a patient payment for medical services. The budget has led to widespread commentary and dispute, including from the Federal Labor opposition.

Kasy Chambers, the executive director of Anglicare Australia, described the Budget as "backward". "Withholding income support for six months to anyone under 30 out of work might save some money in the short term, but it will not get people into paid work any quicker. It will simply make their life harder in the mean time," she said.

Requiring patients to make a co-payment for visits to general practitioners and other medical services would not stop those who over-used the systems, she said, but would discourage those who needed to take their health more seriously.

The executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Tony Nicholson, said that changes in the budget affecting young unemployed people appeared to be a "first step down a more radical policy path, diverging from the best available evidence of what works".

Writing in the newspaper The Australian, Mr Nicholson said that the welfare system in Australia was "highly targeted; so any cutbacks inevitably hit some groups harshly, no matter how carefully the changes are calibrated".

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