This Budget fails working families in the three key areas it set out to achieve – the tax cuts are inadequate, the education measures give no special boost for public schools and nothing for TAFE, and with a lack of significant new investment in infrastructure & innovation there is no economic vision.


Commenting on the Budget, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:


The $14 a week tax cuts are not enough for working families squeezed by cuts to their take home pay under the new IR laws and by higher petrol prices, interest rates and childcare fees.


The tax cuts are unfair with average income earners on $50,000 a year getting $14 a week while high income earners on more than $180,000 a year get much more — $53 a week in tax cuts from July next year.


The Government is also wrong to claim that this is an ‘education budget’ when there is no boost to public schools, nothing for TAFE and no action on the HECS debt crisis for families and students at university.


More than 200,000 eligible young Australians have been turned away from our TAFEs in recent years while the Government has issued visas to 282,000 temporary workers from overseas to take local jobs.


The Howard Government’s perverse priorities in this area are set to continue with no extra funding for TAFE.


The Budget also fails to provide a vision for the Australian economy.


Little is offered to reverse an almost 60% drop in Australia’s productivity growth compared to the OECD average under the Howard Government.


Even business groups have drawn attention to the lack of support for research and development and infrastructure in this Budget.


There is still no commitment to a national high speed broadband network and the already-announced money for industry development only puts back $140 million a year from the $5 billion ripped out in previous Budgets.


This is not enough to reverse the serious decline in Australian manufacturing with 100,000 jobs lost since 2000.


It is telling that the new WorkChoices IR laws – supposedly the Government’s key economic priority for this term of office – are not mentioned in the Budget.


This shows that the Budget tax cuts and hand-backs are simply a cover up for the impact of the new IR laws on working families who are facing cuts to their take home pay and living standards from the loss of penalty rates, overtime pay, shift allowances and other entitlements.


This Budget squanders the windfall from the mining boom on short term hand-backs that will not secure the jobs and lifestyles of Australian working families,” said <span>Ms</span> Burrow.