THE recommendations from the federal government’s Commission of Audit were made public Thursday, May 1, and many of them if implemented would impact heavily on people living in the Shoalhaven.
Although no one pretends the full set of recommendations will be adopted, the government has been making grim announcements to the media about health care, pension, education and welfare costs for several weeks now – all areas of great local significance.
According to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Shoalhaven’s population over 65 years is the second highest in Australia, at nearly 23 per cent compared to the Australian average of just 14 per cent. The median age for the area is 46 years, nearly 10 years above the national average.
The Treasurer Mr Hockey will let the country know exactly what recommendations will be picked up on budget night on Tuesday, May 13, leaving plenty of time between now and then for speculation and analysis.
Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis said people’s concerns about the Commission of Audit recommendations were being beaten up by the media.
“The fact is no one knows what parts of the audit the government will pick up until budget night, including me, so I can’t comment on specifics.”
She said she wouldn’t be briefed on the budget until one-and-a-half hours before the official announcement in Parliament.
Mrs Sudmalis said she was fighting for more money for education in the Shoalhaven and to maintain current levels of health spending.
“But Australia is spending more than it’s earning, and we have to pay down our debts.”
She said no one would run their household budget at a loss, and it was the same for the country.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the Commission of Audit was not at all about auditing.
“It’s about manufacturing excuses to slash services and implement the government’s ideological agenda,” he said.
Mr Rorris said the Shoalhaven needed more of the services under threat by the audit rather than fewer.
“The Shoalhaven is a high impact area if the government restricts pensions, ends universal healthcare and puts up barriers to young people undertaking tertiary study.”
Mr Rorris said there was no budget crisis.
“You only have to look at OECD figures to see the Australian economy is not in trouble. We have one of the world’s lowest debt levels. How is this now a crisis?”
He said the people the government appointed to the Commission of Audit were from the big end of town.
“Who can be surprised that the big end of town wants to slug the poor to make the rich even richer?”