Triple budget hit

The community has been hit by three harsh realities in a row of late – the Federal budget, the State budget and council budgets.
All three tiers of government appear to be giving less and wanting more and it is those on fixed incomes who appear to be bearing the greatest burden.
The story in today’s Courier highlighting Mt Barker pensioner Laurence Gellon’s personal financial situation is a timely example of what the future holds.
Mr Gellon, a retired Commonwealth public servant, estimates he will be more than $1600 a year worse off after the latest belt tightening of authorities.
He will suffer a Federal Government hit of $1100, a State Government hit of almost $400 and a local government hit of $150.
Mr Gellon’s story comes on the heels of an address to a Mt Barker business meeting last week at which Mayo MP Jamie Briggs said his Government’s “unpopular short-term budget” was forced by a massive growth in national debt.
He said Australia had gone from having no debt in the late 2000s to a $667 billion debt today which was attracting an interest bill of $1 billion a month.
Mr Briggs said the nation’s problem had been compounded by the changes to the mining industry which had moved from a construction phase, producing 8-9% of national GDP, to a production phase producing 2% of GDP.
This, he said, had forced the Government to examine Australia’s “entitlement regime”.
He said 13% of Australian households relied entirely on the government for their income which was the basis for the Coalition’s toughening up of the welfare system and implementing the “earn or learn” philosophy for young people.
Mr Briggs described Elizabeth as a “government run entitlement suburb” in which some households had been on welfare for five generations.
“We can’t have people just sitting around not working,” he said.
What he didn’t make clear was that the 13% included aged pensioners – those hundreds of thousands of hard working Australians who had diligently paid their taxes and earned a reasonable retirement.
To regard these people as a problem is unfortunate. These are the people whose blood, sweat and tears paid for the free university education for most MPs.
There is little doubt that times are tough for all businesses and households which must cut their cloth to match their income.
The challenge for government in tough times is to do the same while also spending enough to create stimulus when the business sector cannot.
Let’s hope the tightening is not too severe as to strangle the economy completely.