‘Strong revenue has enabled sound spending programs, and welcome initiatives’, said Denis Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, following the Victorian budget announced on Wednesday 27 April 2016.
‘However, the budget does not yet reflect a central focus on the fundamental needs of those on the margins of our society,’ he added.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas MP brought down the Andrews Government’s second budget on Wednesday 27 April, a week earlier than usual because of the earlier date for next week’s Federal budget.
Only rarely does a Government have sufficient revenue available to meet its broad fiscal managment goals, to fund existing programs, and to have enough left over to embark on a number of initiatives.
This was such a budget.
The overall budget package, much of which was known before budget day, has struck a positive chord with wide sections of the community, with its focus on investment while restraining Government borrowings; with an allocation of funds across transport initiatives, domestic violence, public safety, health and education; and with reductions in payroll tax.
But there will never be enough government revenue to meet all needs that the community wants the Government to address.
In its first budget, in 2015, the Andrews Government addressed election promises and reflected priorities and values that leant towards Victorians who are doing it tough.
The 2016 budget rides a revenue wave to invest heavily in the main areas of traditional Victorian Government responsibility, and extends beyond that, particularly with its family violence response. There are modest but welcome initiates in crime prevention, diversion and rehabilitation; in child protection and building stronger families; in some areas of housing and disability; etc.
Yet the Victorian budget does not reflect a central focus on the needs of those on the margins, whose well being will help determine the sort of society that we become.
It is up to us as a community to convince the Treasurer and the government these areas of need should be addressed as thoroughly as the other areas of societal infrastructure that have been more fully recognised in this year’s budget.