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The Commission of Audit report: orders from finance capitalism

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by Max O.

Like Dracula getting hold of the blood bank, the Commission of Audit report is a plan of blatant theft by finance capital of public welfare and property! The 'Age of Entitlement' for capital is expanding into an era of austerity for the Australian working class. 

The Commission of Audit’s 86 recommendations aim at dismantling the Medicare health scheme, abandoning pension, disability, family, child care, unemployment and other welfare entitlements.

Other targets include social programs, such as assistance for the homeless, with education and tertiary students also suffering increased fees through the deregulation of the university system.

Tony Shepherd, the Audit chairman and the Business Council's prize-fighter, spins the reactionary time-worn argument in the commission's report: “In recent years, Commonwealth spending has outpaced revenue collections ... This is the sixth consecutive budget deficit. We have spent beyond our means for too long...”

The report, as determined by the its terms of reference, only considers government spending and not income in examining the budget debt and consequently is nothing more than a class attack on workers and the poor. As required by finance capital it is about reducing government's role in providing welfare.

The plan of attack
The key recommendations require the demolition of essential services:

• Compel a $15 co-payment for doctor and hospital emergency visits; severe cuts to subsidised medicines and medical services; and deep cuts in funding public hospitals. This heralds the beginning of the end to the Medicare health system.

• Place a ceiling on funding schools at 2017 level; handover all the financial responsibility  for education to the states; cease commonwealth funding for vocational training and education; raise fees for tertiary education by a third to cover 55% of costs. 'User pays' privately run education increasingly replaces a free publicly funded education system.

• Lift the retirement age to 70 by 2035; means test the value of the family home for pensions; index pensions to average weekly earnings rather than to male average weekly earnings; and seniors health concession cards be further restricted. This is a significant step in ridding government of this signature welfare provision. 

• Eliminate or reduce eligibility for family tax benefits for parents who don't work; and childcare benefits be means-tested; do away with or cap Abbott's paid parental leave at average weekly earnings.

• Privatise government bodies such as the Centrelink, Snowy Hydro, Australia Post, Australian Hearing Service, Australian Rail Track Corporation and NBN Co. These sell-offs and closures would see around 15,000 public service jobs done away with.

If this is not bad enough the Audit Commission really bares its fangs, going outside its terms of reference, by calling for a 12% cut ($150 a week by 2033) to the already miserable minimum wage. It also wants a 12 month loss of the dole for unemployed young workers if they are unwilling to move to areas where there is available work.

The report asserts that Australia has a "high by international standards" minimum wage. It urges a cut of 1% a year for a decade until the minimum wage bottoms out at 44% of national weekly earnings.

The Audit Commission's intention, on behalf of finance capital, is quite clear and that is to make Australian workers a low wage work force. Whether it is wages, conditions or welfare rights they are determined by the comparative might of the contending classes, and the ruling class presently feels emboldened to make wretches of the Australian people.

A ferocious attack has been launched by corporate and finance capital against our working class. It can only be overcome with widespread and co-ordinated resistance by workers and their allies.


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