Tax cuts for low and middle income workers expected to be delivered in tonight’s federal Budget might be a case of too little too late for working families the ACTU said today.
Ahead of tonight’s Budget, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: “Since the Howard Government was re-elected in 2004 on a promise of keeping interest rates at record lows there have been four interest rate rises and the cost of average mortgage repayments has risen nearly $200 a month.
At the same time, the Federal Government’s new IR laws have put downward pressure on the take home pay of working families with wages for full time workers going down by 0.9% in real terms over the past year since the introduction of the WorkChoices IR laws.
The danger for working families is that any tax cuts or extra payments for families in the Budget will quickly be swallowed up by rising living costs and cuts to take home pay under the Government’s IR laws.
Family budgets are tighter than ever thanks to rising housing and petrol costs as well as the downward pressure on wages from the IR laws.
Since the Howard Government was re-elected, mortgages are up $45 a week, childcare costs have risen 42%, petrol is up 28%, health costs are up 18% and even the cost of bread is up 17%,” said Ms Burrow.
Investment in skills and education needed: 550,000 jobs at risk
The ACTU today released a major new report today into the economic cost of Australia’s skills shortage and called for a major investment in vocational education and training (VET) in today’s federal Budget.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: “Education and training has suffered eleven years of neglect under the Howard Government with Australia the only OECD country to have cut public investment in tertiary education by 7 per cent since 1995 while other countries have had an average increase of 48 per cent.
Since 1998 more than 300,000 people have been turned away from TAFE and since 2001 almost 150,000 eligible applicants have been turned away from our universities.
Australia now ranks below the OECD average when it comes to adults with upper secondary education and the number of new science and engineering graduates. We are even below OECD average in terms of our investment in early childhood education.
Our ability to compete internationally and create high skilled, high wage jobs for our children is seriously at risk unless the Federal Government invests in social and economic infrastructure, including VET.
The ACTU estimates that unless there is substantial new investment in vocational education and training, our economy could lose up to 550,000 jobs by 2025 and national GDP could decline by more than $100 billion,” said Ms Burrow.