Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary said: “After saying that ‘we are all in this together’, and witnessing the sacrifice of essential workers who have carried Australia through this crisis, this Government has presented a budget that looks after the wealthy, is unfair and fails to deliver the long-term economic security workers need to see Australia through this crisis and beyond.
“The Treasurer has chosen to favour tax cuts for high-income earners over real support for workers, and rely on everyday Australians raiding their super to prop up our economy. We know income tax cuts simply bolster the retirement accounts of Australia’s wealthiest. What we need is Government investment that gets people into good secure jobs.
“The entire country has seen the vital role United Workers Union frontline workers play in keeping our economy running through this crisis. Now, more than ever, we need a Federal Government that will put people first. Instead, we have a budget that fails workers and leaves even more people worse off, while prioritising the top end of town.”
“Millions have been left stranded with no income support because of this Government and as a result workers’ super accounts have been wiped out. The biggest fiscal injection into the economy has not come from government stimulus, it has come from workers. Some of the lowest-paid have funded the economic response to the crisis through draining their super and all possible leave available to them,” Mr Kennedy said.
The effects will be particularly damaging among women, who tend to have less in super to begin with. Using current projections from Industry Super Australia (ISA) by the time the scheme ends in a few months, 480,000 Australians will have cleared their super funds completely by withdrawing early. Most of those – 395,000 super fund members – are under the age of 35.
Josephine Annink, who works at Crown Casino Melbourne, said: “Even with the JobKeeper scheme I was forced to drain my super to keep food on the table and a roof over my head – my super account is now completely empty.”
A measly $240 million was announced for ‘women’s economic security’. It is poorly targeted and woefully inadequate. If the government genuinely wanted to support women, it would prioritise early childhood education and care.
Helen Gibbons, United Workers Union Early Childhood Education and Care Director said: “The Government can choose to fund essential services and open up education and work opportunities for all. Their funding of (universal provision of) free early learning for all Australian children during the crisis proves that. Programs such as these make workers’ lives better and Australia’s economy more productive. Yet now they have chosen to walk away from workers and make their lives harder by cutting the wage subsidy programs and continuing with an early education system that is costly to parents and the economy.”
Shannon Lavery, a South Australian early childhood educator said: “Why are our Prime Minister and Treasurer turning their backs on workers before the crisis is over? They did it to early educators when they cut JobKeeper to us well before any other industry and the damage to our sector has been enormous and long-lasting.”
This budget also confirms the Morrison Government will not deliver the urgent funding needed to fix aged care.
COVID-19 has made the crisis in aged care even clearer. Aged care workers and Australia’s elderly need action now. We don’t want to wait for the Royal Commission. We need better funding to ensure quality time to care and it is telling that when a Government is spending, they are still choosing to scrimp on aged care.
Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union Aged Care Director said: “COVID-19 has exposed how underfunded and short-staffed aged care is – today’s budget announcement is a small band-aid for a sector the Morrison government has failed to fund, failed to understand and failed to respect.
“Aged Care workers have been at the forefront of this pandemic and this budget ignores their enormous contribution to the quality care of older Australians who built this country. Aged care is among whole segments of our society being left behind despite us being among the wealthiest countries in the world. This is a political choice and it’s holding us back. Workers are the backbone of the economy and yet this budget does not prioritise workers.”
Mel, a West Australian aged care worker said: “We’re always short-staffed, and it has a domino effect. It’s stopping us from doing the best we can for the residents. We need safe working numbers, but the desperately needed funding is not on the cards with a Morrison Government.”
Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary said: “The economic advice is clear, non-partisan and urgent: the Government should invest more in social infrastructure like aged care and early learning, as well as affordable housing and green technology. Australians want to work – in secure jobs with good conditions in a low carbon economy – yet Scott Morrison has failed to make this happen.
“Workers know the national budget isn’t the same as a household budget. The economy must serve the people and we do not need to go back to ‘business as usual.’ The COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated inequalities in our communities and workplaces that require a progressive vision to ensure no one is left behind.”