Jim Chalmers’ 2024 budget ignores that humans are social beings

May 19, 2024
Aerial. People crowd on pedestrian crosswalk. Top view background.

This is not the budget that is likely to reassure voters that the Australian Labor Party is there to create better societies and be trustworthy in difficult times.

The failures in the Chalmers’ budget to recognise the need for social aspects of life create more concerns that need to be addressed for the future. These are obviously less visible in the dreary Opposition response and critique. It moves further into ignoring that humans are social beings. Yes, we need to live well with access to resources, but our senses of wellbeing are socially not just financially framed. The current ALP document is based on a very economically limited range of spending proposals that enrich those in power.

The following item is a brief list of some social-omitted areas in the Budget.

NDIS reduced $14.4B over 4 yrs. No funding to reduce male violence. No extra $ for those on the dole. Fewer immigrants and refugees. Health issues. Refugees not helped at all, Mental health needs not met. Universities hurt by overseas student cuts and costs.

An angry feminist’s quote below shows up the problems in one area of recent concern…

“Victims of domestic violence have been forgotten in this budget – AGAIN! This Escaping Violence Payment has been proven to not be working, not accessible, not really helpful to the majority of victim survivors. No more funding for Men’s Behaviour Change programs. No more funding for frontline workers. No funding for women to stay in their own homes or for legal supports. No funding to improve Child Support Agency. No funding to transform the justice system. No funding to embed lived experience to transform patriarchal systems that harm.

“One or two sentences in the budget speech about domestic violence?!? The war on women not mentioned. Men’s violence not mentioned. (Not positive and uplifting enough I suppose).”

Her words allow me to explain my opening concerns: this is not the budget that is likely to reassure voters that the ALP is there to create better societies and be trustworthy in difficult times. Her tone is angry and very much more aimed at care about people. The tone of the budget sends a message that it cares about economics, not people. The tone of Dutton’s reply was very scarily framed and so is even worse.

The above segment commentary is to revive the optimistic social democracies needed to improve our futures. We have had decades of destructive GDP measures, and beliefs in buying votes from individual greedy customers. We need much more generosity to fix threats to nature. We need to restore the optimism needed to show we are citizens with the potential for creating of more civil societies.

What we received was not the budget framework we needed.

My 1995 ABC Boyer Lectures, A Truly Civil Society, laid out what could be done to create fairer futures. They were popular but neoliberalism grew. Decades later too many are still trusting the market that underpins the budget.

This is a reminder that we need other, fairer, options.

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