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Federal Budget a cynical mess: Greens

This budget is a cynical attempt to buy votes instead of planning for the nation’s looming challenges. What we needed was a plan to tackle the climate emergency through a real investment in renewables and a managed transition away from coal and other fossil fuels. What we needed was a plan to tackle growing inequality and to fund our essential services. Instead Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have stuck their heads in the sand and delivered a few election bribes.

“Josh Frydenberg said in his speech that we owe our children budget discipline. We owe our children a plan for their future, and that should mean tackling climate change through a managed transition away from fossil fuels to a clean, green, jobs-rich renewable economy. By any measure this budget fails to do that,” said Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale.

“If the Liberals cared as much about addressing our climate catastrophe as they do with looking after their corporate donors, we might not be in this mess. Instead, just six weeks before an election that will be fought over action on climate change, the Treasurer only uttered the words once in his speech.

“It is shameful that this government has only committed a pittance on their national electric vehicle strategy and to modernise our hopelessly outdated electricity network. It’s verging on criminal that they’ve only budgeted $189 million over the forwards on the centrepiece of their climate change policy when we’re facing a climate crisis.”

“This is a mean-spirited budget that perfectly reflects the Coalition’s worldview. It funds tax cuts for the rich by reducing funding for the public services that are essential for everyone but them. It gives billions of dollars more to overfunded private schools than to the public schools that educate most of our children. The Liberals blame immigrants for our overcrowded cities while spending on defence goes up infrastructure goes down.

“One thing that this budget makes absolutely clear is that we don’t lack the financial resources to solve the problems we face as a nation. What we lack is the political vision,” Di Natale said.

“Let’s get real: there wouldn’t have been a surplus without the bump in commodities prices, and that’s not in keeping with the long-term trends. This budget doesn’t put us on a trajectory to sustainable growth, it’s just a pea-and-shell game designed to buy some votes,” Greens Treasury Spokesperson Peter Whish-Wilson said.

“The tax cut and surplus in this budget are worth $64.5 billion, which is enough to fully fund TAFE and free university education for all Australians, increase Newstart, build 500,000 new affordable homes, provide Medicare-funded dental care and invest $10 billion to fight climate change and still have billions to spare.

“But the giveaway to their wealthy donors doesn’t stop with the personal income tax cuts. This budget could find an extra $1.8 billion in additional fossil fuel subsidies for rich miners like Gina Rinehart but nothing to boost stagnant wages.

“The Government’s infrastructure spend is not a plan, it’s a scheme to funnel pork to marginal Coalition seats without any concrete vision for transforming our cities and regions so they can thrive. Announcing five feasibility studies on top of the existing three is hardly a groundbreaking plan for fast regional rail,” Whish-Wilson said.

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