Government's Vicious Budget Attacks Workers

Treasurer, Hockey declared that the “age of entitlement in over” and that this budget’s measures are just “the first word”.

Financial capital wants more, they want wages cut to “internationally competitive” benchmarks and social welfare permanently eliminated so taxes can be reduced.

ALP Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen singled out the $80 billion in cuts to education and health for criticism as he warned every family would be hit by new taxes and charges, while pensioners would feel betrayed.

How do unions and welfare bodies see the impact of the budget?

ACTU national president Ged Kearney echoed ALP sentiments as she labelled it a "brutal attack" on the safety net that looked after less well off Australians.

"This budget is a harsh budget, basically, if you are old , if you are sick, if you are looking for a job, if you lose your job, if you are young, this government is saying 'you are on your own'.

"By scrapping apprentice tools payments and saddling them with debt, making university more expensive and changing interest on HELP while simultaneously dissolving universal health care and welfare safety nets we are pushing these young workers to the edge and - in some cases - over.

"Increasing homelessness, poverty and stress is no recipe to improving work participation.

"Worst hit will be those without family support or with families already struggling.

"Overall this budget is permanent pain that gets a bit worse every year for the sick, young, students, pensioners and the unemployed while only inflicting a mosquito bite worth to high income earners."

Council of the Ageing's chief executive Ian Yates said "far from improving the pension system as the government claims", the changes in the budget to pension index arrangements will leave pensions "$100 a week worse off in 10 years".

"This is a massive cut to the income of older people who simply can't afford to absorb it.

"As a result we will see many older people slip back below the poverty line.

"What is missing from the budget is measures which provide retraining to older workers or address the needs of older people to have more flexible working arrangements as they age. The government will need to make these a priority long before the pension age rises."

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the budget "places the most vulnerable directly in the firing line".

"The budget divides rather than mends. It entrenches divisions between those with decent incomes, housing and health care and those without them. It undermines the fabric of our social safety net with severe cuts to health, disability support, income support, community services and housing programs."

What was the reaction of the activists?

On Sunday 18 May there were rallies around Australia protesting against the federal budget. Demonstrators gathered in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to rail against the harsh and unjust policy.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Melbourne. This is the beginning of active opposition, not the end.