May 2, 2014

Abbott cuts will betray North Queensland

Far North Queenslanders should brace for a vicious Tony Abbott assault on health, education and welfare spending in the May 13 Budget.

Yesterday’s release of Mr Abbott’s Commission of Audit, including proposals for massive cuts to services and support relied upon by average families, provides a glimpse of his real political agenda – an ideologically motivated attack on fairness in this country.

Ending universal health care, slashing growth in the minimum wage and limiting access to the aged pension will turn life into a misery for millions of Australians.

Residents of Far North Queensland should be particularly concerned about the audit’s proposal for dramatic cuts to tourism industry support, including halving funding for Tourism Australia and eliminating industry grants.

Tourism provides more than a million jobs for Australians and is the lifeblood of Cairns and the surrounding region, where about one in five young people is  unemployed.

The Abbott Government, which does not even have a Minister for Tourism, will kill the sector and cripple Cairns if it proceeds with this reckless proposal.

The audit also urges the government to attack agencies established to provide independent advice, including the Climate Change Authority.

Tony Abbott will not rest until he has silenced or cut funding to the agencies and departments that disagree with him.

The Government commissioned this report, written by business leaders, to confect a case to justify an attack on Australian families with extreme spending cuts and broken promises in the Budget.

It presents the report as providing a basis for a public debate, but Mr Abbott’s refusal to rule out its most extreme proposals will do nothing but cause fear for millions of Australians.

This includes the million people employed in tourism and the communities that, like Cairns, rely on the sector for their economic well-being.