News National Agency cuts ‘crass stupidity’

Agency cuts ‘crass stupidity’

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Veterans’ groups say the Government’s decision to axe a number of agencies and groups which help returned service men and women is “crass stupidity”.

The Government will tomorrow formally announce it is abolishing almost 200 agencies in a bid to save $500 million over four years.

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Groups to be axed include the Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre Advisory Panel and a medicines and therapeutic advice group for veterans.

Vietnam Veterans’ Association vice-president Peter Ryan said he could not believe the move.

“Crass stupidity. Whoever is advising the Government on this has no concept of reality,” Mr Ryan said.

“These programs are designed to help our people with their health and well being and the Government is cutting these programs. Why does the Government want to hurt veterans?

“Why is the Government cutting a program that in the long term saves money and what on earth do they think they’re going to replace it with?”

Budget cuts will streamline services

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is to announce the cuts in the Government’s budget update on Monday.

Other groups set to be abolished are the Diabetes Advisory Group, Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board and the Local Government Ministers Forum.

The Australian Government Solicitor and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Advisory Group will be merged into Government departments.

Senator Cormann said the Government wants to streamline agencies and avoid duplication.

“A lot of these bodies are responsible for similar areas of responsibility. There’s a lot of overlap, a lot of duplication… what we’ve set out to do is, wherever possible, ensure these functions are streamlined,” he said on Saturday.

The proposed scrapping of agencies comes after Treasurer Joe Hockey revealed last week budget deficit would be worse than the Government had previously forecast.

He flagged more cuts would need to be made.

Mr Hockey said the drop in iron ore prices and others factors such as Labor blocking spending cuts would ensure the budget did not return to surplus in 2018 as previously forecasted.

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