Monday, May 25, 2015

Budget 2015, and ciao for now

Lots of people with a better understanding of these things than I have already sounded forth on the 2015 budget so I won't say much. But I do take issue with the breathless wonderment that has greeted the raising of benefits by the grand sum of $25 per week (less once deductions for Accommodation Supplement/Income-Related rents/Temporary Additional Support are factored in). Here's why.

With the budget's total benefit increases, increases to Working for Families and childcare subsidies costing about $790 million, this is not an insignificant package. However, the focus on the increase in benefits overlooks the fact that $25 per week will not undo the damage done to families by this government's ill-conceived (and appallingly implemented) welfare reforms, its lack of meaningful action on housing, and the cuts to social services that have whittled away the safety net for the most vulnerable. As Mike Williams put it, increasing benefits is scratching an itch, one that presumably needed scratching in order to mollify focus group participants who want to see something done about child poverty. This was not a radical budget; it did not hark back to the late 1970s; it was public relations. Oh, and they managed to poke Labour in the eye at the same time. Bonus!

A radical budget would be one that pledged to undo the enormous damage welfare reform has inflicted on children and communities, that revisited child support so all children were treated on the same basis, and rolled out a tangible plan for desperately needed affordable housing. It is clear to community workers that many families and children are in crisis, and $25 per week will barely make a dent to their budgets: they need decent jobs and housing. Neither of these was forthcoming in this budget.

And it is on that rather grumpy note that Spider and I will sign off. I don't have the time to keep a blog up and running. Spider's mental health problems are proving to be time-consuming and it is more important that he comes right than having me railing against whatever takes my fancy. This blog was started initially to help my brain recover and it mostly achieved that. Along the way my writing has improved, and perhaps I'll be back another day, in a different forum and maybe with a different style. It has entertained my faithful audience of three along the way, and I thank them for their kind words. There are plenty of other bloggers traversing the same ground, many of them much better writers and more astute observers than I. Plus they're more interactive, and have the comments open (I could never be bothered with moderation and removing the ads for cheap sports shoes).

It's good-bye from me, and good-bye from him. Ka kite anō (maybe). And please, remember to be kind.