May 14, 2003

Budget 2003 – Tough times ahead for local families


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 14 May 2003

Families in the Federal electorate of Grayndler will be left worse off as a result of the 2003 Federal Budget, particularly if they need to see a doctor or want to send their children to university.

Firstly, under the Howard Government’s plan to dismantle Bulk Billing families earning more than $32,300, and therefore not qualifying for a health care card, are likely to pay more for a visit to their GP.

The Howard Government will also slug low-income families an extra $5.50 each and every time they buy essential medicines. For pensioners the price of essential medicine will increase from $3.70 to $4.60.

On top of this the Howard Government is cutting funding for our public hospitals by $918 million. This will simply place greater pressure on the already stretched emergency departments in our local hospitals such as the Royal Prince Alfred and Canterbury Hospital.

Secondly, under the Government’s proposed changes to higher education families in my electorate who simply want their children to get a university degree will have to pay more in HECS or take out loans. These families will face up to $32 a week in extra HECS debt and up to $125 a week in education loan repayments.

The outcome of the Government’s higher education changes will simply be higher debt for students and their families.

There is nothing in these changes that will meet the hopes of the 20,000 qualified Australians who are turned away from universities every year.

The Medicare and higher education changes in the Budget reinforce John Howard’s ideological obsession with transferring the costs of health and education from the government’s budget to the budgets of families.

In return for higher health and education costs all the average family will receive from the Government is a $4 a week tax cut. This tax cut will not be enough for a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk.

Families and individuals in my electorate deserve a better deal from their government.