It can be disheartening to read about the measures that will be included in the upcoming federal budget. I loved this article on Right Now because it explored the different language used when describing expenditure on welfare and tax cuts. Welfare spending is often seen as excessive, ‘bad’ spending which the government should minimise at all costs. We see this in the articles about ‘dole bludgers’ and those who are ‘rorting the system’. However, tax cuts, although they often cost the budget a lot more than any welfare cut saves, are viewed and talked about as beneficial. The government consensus seems to be that tax cuts will ‘trickle down’ and benefit society as a whole.
If the growing inequality in Australia is going to be addressed then there needs to be a change in the narrative concerning welfare. It needs to be seen as an essential element in protecting Australian citizens’ human rights. It needs to be seen as an investment in our population and the type of country that we want to live in. It cannot be seen as the first line of expenditure to be cut. Particularly not if those cuts are to help fund corporate tax cuts.
It raises the question: can governments continue to cut welfare and still claim to have respect for human rights?