Shellharbour budget response mixed

WEDNESDAY morning a saw a mixture of reactions in response to the federal budget among residents the Lake Times spoke to. 

Controversial aspects of the budget including the raising the pension age to 70, the $7 GP visit payment co-payment and the so called deficit levy were supported by some and described as broken promises by others. 

While Shellharbour's Reannon Mayer doesn't believe many of the budget changes will effect she and her one year-old son Parker, she does believe it would be scary for a lot of families across the country.  Picture: PHIL McCARROLL

While Shellharbour's Reannon Mayer doesn't believe many of the budget changes will effect she and her one year-old son Parker, she does believe it would be scary for a lot of families across the country. Picture: PHIL McCARROLL

Shellharbour’s Reannon Mayer described the budget as a ‘‘bit scary.’’

‘‘I’m not really angered by it, but it does seem to be a bit scary especially for families,’’ she said. 

‘‘Things like the changes to the family tax benefit don’t really affect us, but for families who do receive it, I can imagine they would be worried about how they’ll be hit. 

‘‘It’s the same with GP payment, we’re lucky that we’re all relatively healthy, but if you’re a family that has a kid with some health issues that could really break the budget.’’

Mark Hipplewhite of Shell Cove was broadly in favour of the budget and said it was what Australia needed.

‘‘It’s the budget that Australia needed, something had to be done so that we don’t end up like so many of the European economies,’’ he said. 

‘‘The idea of raising the pension age is acceptable, it’s already set to go to 67 and it’s another three years, it might be a bit hard on blue collar workers but I think a medical certificate could be the way to go there.

‘‘I think the co-payment for GP visits is totally acceptable, there’s too many people who go to doctors for frivolous health complaints, so I think this is a way to stop that, we’re lucky in this country that we can access doctors easily and we don’t want to get to the point in 30-40 years where we can’t.’’

Priscilla Taylor of Lake Illawarra believes that pensioners and the elderly have been unfairly targeted. 

‘‘It’s definitely no good for pensioners, I really feel for them with how some of their benefits have been cut,’’ she said. 

‘‘How is somebody on a pension going to afford to pay an extra $7 to go to a doctor? I also don’t think people should have to wait till they’re 70 for pension, people work hard and they shouldn’t have to wait that long.’’

Kate Carr of Shellharbour was more pragmatic, but she was also felt let down by some areas of the budget. 

‘‘I guess there’s always going to be cuts and you’re never going to be able to please everybody,’’ she said. ‘‘The thing that is upsetting is the deficit levy, it’s essentially a new tax and that was something that was never mentioned in during the elections, so it would be fair to call it a broken promise.’’

Community organisations were more united in their message about the budget, with many expressing dismay at what had been announced. 

In their response to the budget, the St Vincent de Paul Society described it as ‘‘tough but cruel’’ and said that it would remove what remained of Australia’s egalitarian society.

The Salvation Army said the government had ignored the needs of vulnerable Australians in their quest to find budget savings. 

Illawarra based organisation Southern Youth & Family Services, who help young people find housing and employment believes the changes to welfare systems such as Newstart and Youth Allowance will hinder young people trying to find work. 

People under 30 who are unemployed will have to wait six months before they can receive Newstart payments, while people under 25 will not be eligible for Newstart and will instead receive the lower Youth Allowance payments.

“Measures to force young people into work through penalising them, doesn’t seem to address the lack of jobs available for young people, particularly in region’s such as ours,” SYFS CEO Narelle Clay said.

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