Treasury modelling shows less-wealthy were hardest-hit by budget
The Abbott government is refusing to release more detailed
modelling prepared by Treasury in the lead-up to the budget that shows
the likely impact of the planned budget measures on different household
Documents released under Freedom of Information to Fairfax
Media show the federal government delivered its May budget fully aware
its spending cuts would hit poorer households much harder than wealthier
But two larger documents were withheld from the FOI request, a
56-page document and a 21-page document, and it is understood they
starkly show how less-wealthy households suffer far bigger falls in
disposable income than richer ones, especially for families with
children aged between six and 16.
A spokeswoman for Treasurer Joe Hockey said the documents
would not be released because they were prepared for cabinet and were
therefore protected in the FOI process.
''Every government receives a range of advice and analysis during the budget preparation process,'' the spokeswoman said.
''[And] the Abbott government clearly shows what the welfare
changes would mean, with 10 pages of material contained in the budget
papers. This is significantly more than has been included in most
Mr Hockey slammed Fairfax's report of the Treasury analysis on Monday, saying the figures did not tell the complete story.
He also denied the data indicated the government knew its
budget would hit the poor the hardest. He noted it ''fails to take into
account the massive number of concessional payments such as discounted
pharmaceuticals, discounted transport, discounted child care that goes
to lower-income households.''
However, all of these payments had been cut in the federal budget in one way or another.
Subsidies to pharmaceuticals have been reduced, federal
funding for transport discounts are being withdrawn, and there are
tougher conditions to get childcare benefits.
In an effort to rein in PBS costs, and save $1.3 billion over
four years from January, the government wants to increase co-payments
for scripts by $5 for general patients, to $42.70, and by 80¢ for
concessional patients, to $6.90.
All of these changes will result in lower income earners being worse off.
But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen slammed Mr Hockey on Monday
for attacking the media for ''daring'' to report on the data, saying the
Treasurer ought to be ''acknowledging [the] Treasury figures show the
fundamental unfairness of the budget''.
''These are Treasury figures. These aren't Sydney Morning Herald's
figures, not the Labor Party's figures - these are Treasury figures,
which have been released under FOI,'' Mr Bowen told ABC Radio.
He said Mr Hockey had a "glass jaw", was "in denial" and
attacking the media instead of acknowledging his budget's impacts on the
A former Treasury official, who did not want to be named,
said he had ''no reason to expect Treasury's figures are wrong''. ''And I
have no reason to expect these figures will go away, either,'' he said.
Stephen Koukoulas of Market Economics said the government
would have known that its budget was going to affect lower-income
''The way that all these policies are actually costed and analysed, there is almost always an income distribution effect.''