The Abbott Government gifting companies with tax cuts at the same time as they are set to make a raft of painful announcements for families, workers and those on welfare shows Joe Hockey’s crackdown on entitlements doesn’t include big business.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said “This is a divisive budget from a government that has got its priorities wrong. It has been put together to benefit big business, with ordinary Australians picking up the bill.”

“The Abbott Government has readied Australian’s for a tough budget telling them they should no longer rely on universal health care, benefits will be cut and families and workers must all prepare for painful announcements next Tuesday.”

“Now we hear that the Government is schmoozing up to business mates with a commitment to cut the company tax rate to the tune of $4 billion.”

“It’s clear that Joe Hockey’s crackdown on entitlements doesn’t include big business; instead families, workers and those on welfare are expected to foot the bill.”

Ms Kearney said the cut to company taxes came at the same time as the Abbott Government was looking at how to slash worker’s pay with Australian minimum wage earners set to be one of the lowest paid in the OECD.

“Going after the wages safety net is a clear attempt to drive everyone’s wages down,” Ms Kearney said.
“A wages safety net makes sure that workers are protected against creating an underclass of US style working poor in Australia.

“Under the plan considered by the Government, Australia’s minimum wages would have been reduced to 44% of average weekly earnings, wiping off $136 per week in today’s dollars, taking the minimum wage down to around $480 per week, or just $12 per hour.”

“They backed down after public and union pressure but the community is still shocked that the Abbott Government would consider such a plan.”

Ms Kearney warned workers not to be complacent as the Productivity Commission – who was now reviewing the Fair Work Act – could come up with radical changes to the minimum wage.

“This review will put the whole workplace system on trial – pay and conditions, rights at work, collective bargaining and unfair dismissal and now the wage safety net,” she said.

“Workers need to understand the scope of this review, because its outcomes will have a direct impact on them.

“We want a country that gives everyone a fair go, ensures their dignity and a right to a reasonable and decent quality of life.”

“Instead what we are seeing is special treatment to companies through golden handshake tax breaks at the same time as the government is cracking the whip behind the rest of Australia, telling them they deserve fewer entitlements and should work longer and harder for less pay.