Queensland families, pensioners and students have nominated petrol price rises as the cruellest part of Tuesday night’s federal budget.
Their criticism adds to comments from Queensland’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday night that petrol prices rises in the “Jekyll and Hyde budget” would hit Queenslanders hardest because of the state's decentralised population.
Thirty-six year-old Brisbane IT manager, Tim Cridland, and his wife Susan have three young boys; Dominic 4, Patrick 6 and Owen 8.
Susan works 30 hours a week part-time for a call centre and while the two older boys are at school, their youngest Dominic is at kindergarten.
Their trips to and from school mean and work rising fuel costs will be the biggest impact on their family, Tim Cridland said.
“We have two cars, so it will hit us a fair bit because I have to travel a bit to get to work,” Tim Cridland said.
The change to Family Payment Part B – which will cut out at the combined family income of $100,000 and no longer at $150,000 – will affect their tax return.
“That will impact us because we do have two incomes and that will take us over $100,000,” he said.
However Mr Cridland said the family did not rely on the payment because of the irregular hours that Susan worked.
He said the $7 co-payment to visit the family doctor each time would affect them less than the rising petrol prices.
“We might have five visits per child per year, so that is $35 to $40 per child, per year,” he said.
“So that is $120 to $130 per year.”
He said restrictions on unemployment benefits for under 30s was a creeping issue that could hit young families.
“When I was 29, I was married with two kids – and I did actually lose my job when I was 28 for a couple of months,” he said.
“But if that had been in the middle of the global financial crisis, that could quite easily have been us.”
Ray Ferguson represents almost 600,000 Queensland pensioners and people living from their superannuation.
He said the while higher taxes on higher income earners was only temporary, the budget's impact on pensioners was permanent
“The heavy lifting for us goes on forever. The so-called heavy lifting for the top end of town – which I think is only 3 per cent of the population – is over in three years.”
Mr Ferguson said it would be pensioners who would bear the brunt of the $7 co-payments to visit their doctors.
He said the increase in the fuel excise would have a “huge impact” on pensioners and seniors living outside the inner city.
“The lack of public transport out there means they will have to use a car to get around and they are going to pay for it.”
Funding the aged care pension is Australia's single biggest expense, costing about $40 billion a year and the government needs to reduce the bill.
The retirement age will be lifted to 70 by 2035.
However Mr Ferguson said plans to link the aged care pension to inflation from September 2017, rather than a 27.7 per cent share of the average total male weekly earnings, would simply cut the real value of the aged care pension.
The single aged care pension is $751.80 per fortnight, while the couples’ pension is $566.60.
“We are just going to be a lot worse off,” he said.
He rejected suggestions the cost of providing aged care needed to restrained.
“This is a furphy,” he said.
“The aged pension under the current formula will only rise by 4 per cent next year. In fact welfare payments and health payments are growing less in relation to the overall expenditure in the budget.”
CPI is running at about 2.4 per cent.
Mr Ferguson said the decision to abolish the $850 a year Seniors Supplement would affect about 300,000 retirees.
“The Seniors supplement is to assist in paying utilities - rates, phone bills and things like that,” he said.
State governments and councils pay similar seniors supplements.
Students at an inner Brisbane share house said more expensive higher fuel, as well as the need to repay student loans earlier and at higher prices, would hit them hardest.
Fifth-year law student Charlotte Glab said students – who had limited incomes - were often forgotten as motorists.
“Of all the costs to re-introduce, extra petrol price rises was one thing that everything could agree on would impact them,” she said.
“It is students, pensioners - just everyone who can’t afford it.”
Ms Glab said the deregulation of university fees – letting individual universities set their own charges for courses – raised questions about access to university.
“Unfortunately tertiary education is becoming more a business,” she said.
“It’s more about money making than about learning.”
“So I am not surprised that the Coalition has raised the cap on fees.
“Students effectively have to pay more, pay it sooner and with more interest.”
Fourth-year marine biology student Peter Rankin said he was initially not perturbed by the changes until he learned he would have to pay $3690 each year extra for his doctorate from 2015.
Currently doctorate places are funded by universities, but students pay their own expenses.
“Now they are going to bring in that doctoral students will have to pay a certain amount.
“And for me, that just added an extra $12,000 - $3690 a year for three years,” Mr Rankin said.
“So that is an extra cost for people who have already done four years at university.”
The story Federal Budget 2014: Qld students, families, pensioners have their say first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.