Voters agree with Malcolm Turnbull that housing affordability is not the top priority for this year’s federal budget, but say it is still an important issue.
The Prime Minister attempted to douse expectations last week the budget will solve Australia’s housing affordability problems faced with a red-hot property market in Sydney and Melbourne.
That’s despite the issue having been an equally hot political topic since late last year.
Two weeks out from Treasurer Scott Morrison’s second budget, a new survey found a majority (57 per cent) of voters regard Medicare and hospitals as their top priority.
The polling, by JWS Research for the Australian Financial Review, found stimulating economic growth and employment came second on 48 per cent, followed by welfare and social issues on 46 per cent and then housing affordability and funding for education and schools, both on 41 per cent.
The government will reportedly use the budget to close a loophole which allows people to claim welfare even if they refuse interviews or placements under work-for-the-dole schemes.
“The problem at the moment is that people are escaping any financial penalty because of the loopholes Labor created,” Human Services Minister Alan Tudge told News Corp papers on Monday.
“We are working on fixing this.”
At the same time, Australia’s most vulnerable people will keep access to legal services under new government funding arrangements.
The government will include $39 million of funding for community legal centres and $16.7 million for indigenous legal services in the budget.
Attorney-General George Brandis opted to pre-empt the budget because of the importance of the announcement after working with community legal groups as well as the indigenous legal sector to secure the outcome.
“The sector has been waiting, hoping that the government would see their point of view and we’ve done and we’ve delivered for them,” he told ABC radio.
Meanwhile, Universities Australia has warned the government higher education institutions do not have the capacity to absorb any further funding cuts.
It says the sector has already contributed $3.9 billion to help rein in the federal deficit since 2011.
“Beyond the impact on Australian students and research, further cuts would put in jeopardy our success as a powerhouse provider of international education,” Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson says.