Yesterday was a black day for Canberra. Today, Canberrans are wondering why they are doing the heavy lifting for the nation. In this morning's constituency statement, I would like to speak about how my constituents are feeling after last night's budget.
This morning, there are thousands of my constituents who are fearful for their jobs after the Abbott government promised to cut 16,500 public service jobs and increase the efficiency dividend by 0.25 per cent. These are constituents who work at Defence, where some 2,200 jobs will go in the next four years. They work at some of our nation's finest cultural institutions, where dozens if not hundreds of jobs will go, through the merger of the back-end functions. They work at the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, they are scientists at the CSIRO, where there have been massive funding cuts over the last six months, and they are scientists and other academics at the ACT's universities who rely on Research Council funding for their work.
This morning there are thousands of Canberra families hoping and praying that they do not get sick, because the main message out of last night's budget seemed to be: do not get sick unless you are wealthy. These families are wondering what happened to Australia's universal health care and how they are going to find that extra money to pay the GP co-contribution. This morning there are thousands of Canberra families wondering what happened to Tony Abbott's promise that he was on a unity ticket with Labor when it came to education funding. Last night the Abbott government abandoned the Gonski school-funding model beyond the forward estimates. Canberra families, parents, teachers, principals and students are wondering why. They are particularly keen on the Gonski program. They were involved in all the consultations on the Gonski program that took place. They understand the importance of education and they understand the transformative powers of education, which is why they are very concerned about Tony Abbott's promise that he was on a unity ticket regarding education. This morning there are hundreds of thousands of Canberrans wondering how they will afford the extra petrol costs. Canberrans I met while I was doorknocking on the weekend who live in the Lanyon Valley and work in Belconnen and travel around 60 kilometres a day to and from work are wondering how they are going to cope with that extra strain on the family budget. This morning there are over 32,000 university students in the ACT who are wondering how they can afford their degrees, after the budget paved the way not only for an increase in university fees but also for students to pay more of their fees and to start paying back earlier.
Yesterday was a black day for Canberra. I am fearful about our future. I am fearful about the economic prospects for this town. It was a black day.