Contributed by Jim Hayes
Modelling provided by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has revealed that millions of Australians will be left worse off by the Morrison government’s tax cuts for the richest, and the winding down of the JobSeeker supplement and return to the tough line against the unemployed, will force many into poverty.
This is the real face of the government’s economic policy and understanding this is the key to an alternative vision of what could be.
The tax cuts will leave most about $1,000 out of pocket on average. The lower down the income scale, the higher the proportion of the cut. This is being brought about by the ending of the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO), which is, that current amount that can be earned before tax has to be paid on it.
It means less money in people’s hands to pay their bills or spend down at the shops. Hardly what is needed in the present economic climate.
Only those with incomes over $90,000 a year will be getting a tax cut.
The JobSeeker supplement has been halved from $550 a fortnight to $250. Although the government seems to be for now backtracking from the political fallout and postponing the rest of the cut, originally due in December, the end game of cutting it off completely remains intact. This has been made clear. There will be a return to $40 a day.
Other negative shifts are a return to the hard-line punitive methods, bureaucratic hoops, and private incentives provided to private agencies, which have seen 27,000 Australians have their JobSeeker payments cut off since September.
Another 4,000 have had their payments stopped pending further investigation. The debt recovery program carried out under the infamous Robo Debt system was renewed on 2 November. Assumed debts will be chased again from February next year.
Together, the tax increase for the majority and cut to payouts to the unemployed mark a significant attack on living standards.
It isn’t stopping here. The share going to age pensioners, sole parents, those with disabilities, continues its downward trajectory.
This is not a plan for economic recovery. Even if it was, do we really want a type of recovery that leaves all but a few worse off? The Morrison government’s moves also fail, if judged in terms of justice.
The policy is to restore profitability to some businesses, by taking income out of the pockets of others. This will undermine the conditions which most other businesses, especially smaller ones, need to get by.
By recognising this wrong direction and rejecting it, Australia can move to a different vision. One bringing Australians together for a shared effort, where no one gets left behind.
This is what we must talk about and come up with practical measures to implement.