Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Australian Constitution used in Abbott attack on living standards

Today’s front page of Murdoch’s unAustralian carries the news that billions of dollars will be stripped from funding to the states in the coming federal budget.
Schools and hospitals will be the hardest hit with Treasury figures showing the commonwealth savings from cutting funding to the states for hospitals and schools will escalate rapidly, rising from $1bn in 2017-18 to $3bn in 2018-19 and $7bn the following year. By 2020-21, it will be $10bn.
Hockey and Abbott justify these funding cuts by pointing out that under the Australian Constitution health, education and housing are state responsibilities.
The article contains the following paragraph:
Joe Hockey said yesterday the growth in funding under Labor’s formula was not sustainable and it was up to the states to find their own funding for hospitals. “The states want us to do the unpopular things to raise the moneys so they can spend it,” the Treasurer said. “The states need to accept responsibility for the things they run. If they do that and if we’re all -accountable for the things we are actually responsible for, we’ll have a more efficient system.”
Abbott has already said that if the states can’t run hospitals and schools with the money the commonwealth provides, then they can reintroduce their own income tax schemes or agree to put up GST.
What the Coalition is doing represents a seismic shift in the delivery of “soft services” like education and health.  It is a massive attack on the equitable provision of such services and the pointy end of a nasty austerity agenda.
This little booklet is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Coalition’s use of an out-of-date Constitution to force each state to raise the revenue for schools, hospitals and housing.

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