My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for Tuesday 16 May 2017: What has this federal government got against young people?

by ray goodlass

Though much media commentary of last week’s federal budget has been generally favourable I can’t see for the life of me why, given that it so strongly penalises our young people, demonstrated by its attacks on education, welfare benefits, penalty rates and housing affordability.

More details of all on all the above below, but to start the ball rolling I was pleased to see that Australian Greens education spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young picked up on the same theme when she tweeted that the “Single biggest cut in the budget is a brutal attack on young people. Malcolm Turnbull has proven he has his priorities wrong if he thinks he can foster a clever country by cutting $3.8 billion from universities, while planning to loan $1 billion to Adani for a useless coalmine”.

Richard Di Natale picked up on the same theme, but then upped the ante then he noted the budget’s total lack of action on climate change. Quite.

If you are under the age of 35, this budget guarantees that you will be the one dealing with the climate mess that your parents and grandparents created and that this Government was too gutless to address.

Indeed, it’s not merely a lack of funds to tackle climate change that is one of the budget’s biggest problem, but rather that it commits $60 million for fracking. Lack of action on climate change is a sin of omission, but funding fracking is also a sin of commission. Wrong on both counts.

The young also miss out on the budget’s response to housing affordability. “The Coalition’s refusal to reform negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount means their plan for housing affordability is doomed. Continuing to allow investor tax concessions to supercharge the housing market is profoundly irresponsible,” Greens spokesperson for housing Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

With regards to welfare, the only thing that forcing welfare recipients who fail drug tests onto a cashless welfare card will do is further stigmatise people already at the margins and decrease their incentive to get help. It’s a perfect storm of ill-informed, mean-spirited policy.

Social media was predictively alive about the so-called random drug tests , the random-ness of which was soon exposed as a lie when it was discovered that the geo-social areas and types of people’s backgrounds to be subjected to these tests have already been chosen, in a blatant example of profiling, or ‘blame the victim’.

And why just drugs? What about alcohol? I rarely agree with Senator Jacqui Lambie, but having watched hours of MPs behaving badly at Question Time, immediately after what may well have been a ‘liquid lunch’, I’m inclined to agree with her that MPs should also be tested.

I wrote about the savage cuts to university and schools funding in last week’s column, so here just need to point out that they are of course yet another attack on young people.

In short this is a budget with no vision or direction for the country. It isn’t a roadmap for the future, it’s a highway to nowhere. The mean-spirited approach to welfare, demonising anyone unlucky enough to have had a bad break and making it that much harder for them to get back on track, tells you all you need to know about Malcolm Turnbull’s vision for Australia.