Abbott's Unhappy Anniversary For The Illawarra

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the Abbott Government coming to office but local Members Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones say there is nothing to celebrate for Illawarra.

“The first year of the Abbott Government has been a disaster for people in our region wanting a job, an apprenticeship or to enrol in higher education”, said Ms Bird.

“The unemployment rate in the Illawarra is already 2 per cent above the national average. Not only has the Government done nothing to address this problem but they’ve gone even further and ripped almost $2 billion out of the skills portfolio.

“The Illawarra economy is in transition but instead of investing in jobs for the future, Tony Abbott has taken the axe to Labor’s Trades Training Centres in schools, the National Workforce Development Fund and four Australian Apprenticeships support programs.

“This is on top of the Government’s reckless plan to cut university funding for students by 20 per cent, triple interest rates for HECS and uncap student fees, which could lead to $100,000 undergraduate degrees.

“These are dangerous propositions and will only serve to put more obstacles in the way of students—particularly students from regional areas like the Illawarra – being able to afford a university education.”

Stephen Jones says the Abbott Government have spent the past year slapping themselves on the back for halving a Budget deficit that they themselves doubled by introducing an unaffordable Paid Parental Leave Scheme, giving tax cuts to mining companies and a $9 billion gift to the Reserve Bank.

“They’ve taken from the poor and given to the rich”, said Jones.

“We’ve seen it time and time again with their cut to pensions, extending the retirement age to 70, axing the $500 low income super contribution for over 45,000 local workers, while giving tax breaks to some of Australia’s highest income earners.”

Patients in the region will be also be slugged twice by the Abbott Government’s GP Tax and hikes to medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, costing local families over $94 million over the next four years.

“It’s a double whammy for local patients. They’re whacked when they go to see a doctor and then again when they need to fill their prescriptions. This does not even take into account the extra fees charged for basic services like x-rays, scans or blood tests”, said Jones.

“The Abbott Government’s first year in office has been nothing but a kick in the guts for our region.

"The Prime Minister needs to stop breaking promises and start investing in the future of all Australians – not just those in the wealthy capital cities.”

Friday 5 September, 2014