The Federal Budget’s widespread cuts to welfare, health, education and foreign aid have drawn sharp criticism from key national and state Catholic agencies, reports The Catholic Leader.
The cuts include changes to family benefits, resuming fuel excise increases, a $7 health-care co-payment for GP visits and an estimated $7.6 billion decrease in foreign aid funding over the next five years.
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, announcing his first budget, told parliament the Government’s economic action strategy was about 'spending less on consumption and more on investment so we can keep making decent, compassionate choices in the future.'
Australian business particularly welcomed the proposed 1.5 percentage point cut to the company tax rate.
St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive Dr John Falzon said the budget contained measures 'that rip the guts out of what remains of a fair and egalitarian Australia. These measures will not help people into jobs but they will force people into deeper poverty,' he said.
National Catholic Education Commission executive director Ross Fox welcomed funding certainty contained in the budget through to the end of the 2017 school year.
'However, based on recent experience, the school funding assumptions contained in the Federal Budget for 2018 and beyond will not meet the needs of schools and students,' he said. 'In the last decade the CPI has averaged less than 3 per cent.'
In a media statement, the Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta, Greg Whitby, said: 'The Federal Government’s priority to cut the budget deficit will significantly reduce school funding in real terms and create greater uncertainty for schools.
'Catholic schools need certainty on two key areas: funding and direction,' said Whitby. 'The Better Schools Plan (Gonski) which had given schools a clear mandate has been abandoned by the Federal government in this budget.'
'This "back to the future" approach of devolving responsibility to the states and the constantly shifting educational focus is a distraction to the core work of improving schooling.'
FULL STORY Budget cuts 'rip the heart out of a fair Australia' (The Catholic Leader)