In the view of the Society, the Federal Budget represents far more than an administrative accounting exercise. Instead, and as previous Budgets have shown, the second Tuesday in May is one of the year’s most important opportunities for the government of the day to outline its vision for Australia. Moreover, the length and depth of community consultations before the Budget is released are an indicator of the degree to which the government truly respects democratic and inclusive values, and the media and parliamentary debate that occurs after the Budget is a chance us all to see democracy in action.
This year, we believe that these discussions must take into account three core features necessary to continue to build a strong Australia. First, the Budget must set down a new national plan to help all Australians into secure and stable housing. A home is one of the most basic human rights, and essential for all other participation in society. Secondly, universal healthcare must be strengthened in this Budget through a financed commitment to a holistic Social Determinants of Health approach, rather than undermined by cuts to Medicare and other services. Social Determinants show us that it is already those who are locked out of prosperity in this country who are struggling with health; kicking the boot into them further will have dire social and economic consequences. Finally, we believe that everyone in Australia deserves income adequacy, regardless of age, family status, or any test of ‘moral worthiness’. In specific Budget measures we outline below, this means a focus on income support, job-creation, and education for everyone.
By including all Australians in the debate around how we spend our national wealth, and committing to housing, health, and income adequacy, this Budget has the potential to strengthen and unite us in our quest for a more fair and prosperous future.