A step by step guide to surviving the looming Federal budget

June 02, 2014
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You might probably definitely will have heard by now that people are not happy about the Abbott Government’s first budget, which was released on May 13. Unless, of course, you're a mole person who has just emerged from the catacombs of your troglodytic race into the human world for the first time, in which case, congratulations! You avoided the budget! Let me bring you up to speed.

It was brutal. The budget proposes a host of tax hikes and spending cuts that seem to almost maliciously target the vulnerable people of our society – particularly us young'uns. Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party are all dead against most of the controversial measures, so the good news is much of the really, really bad stuff probably isn't going to get through the Senate.

But what if it does? What will you do? Short of seizing power in a bloodless coup, here are a few ways you can insulate yourself from the harsh financial winds of this budgetary winter.

HIGHER EDUCATION

So, Christopher Pyne wants to deregulate university fees, and as soon as fees are deregulated, universities are probably going to start raising them to high hell. If you want a sweet, sweet tertiary education without financially crippling yourself in the process, it actually won't be too bad – you'll just have to adjust your ambitions somewhat.

Under the budget, students studying diplomas, advanced diplomas and associate degrees will now receive financial assistance from the government. So sure, a Bachelor of Arts or Science is out of the question, but those were never gonna get you a job anyway, so you might as well now do something useful, like surveying or floristry.

You know what this country needs? More tradies. The Government is introducing new Trade Support Loans for those completing apprenticeships in trades which are experiencing a national skills shortage. You may have had your heart set on being a philosophy professor or a neuroscientist, but now it's time to set your sights a little lower. Ever wanted to be a glazier or a wood machinist? No? Too bad.

WELFARE

This one we can't put such a rosy spin on. Under the budget, unemployed people under 25 will no longer be eligible for Newstart, and will instead have to apply for good old Youth Allowance – that means a $100 decrease in fortnightly welfare payments for those aged between 22 and 24. Jobless under 30s would have to spend six months trying to find a job before they receive any Newstart payments.

But if you don't get a job straight out of uni, the Liberals haven't totally boned you. After all, you can always embark upon a new life of crime. “Don’t be surprised if you see a rise in crime when young people, who are trying to do the right thing...now have no income, because it might be the only way that they’re able to feed themselves,” Greens MP Adam Bandt said in response to these proposals. You might as well prove him right?

If you don't have the ruthlessness or guile for career criminality, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and lighten the load on your wallet. Is your rent too damn high? Try living in a cave! Australia is full of caves just waiting for you to occupy. Towns like Buchan, Naracoorte and Yanchep are in close proximity to networks of caverns that are entirely uninhabited aside from the occasional tour group or spelunker – and they're totally rent free!

Moving into a remote cave might also have the positive effect of removing you from an area on the Abbott government's Work For The Dole welfare 'hit list', which was leaked last week in lead up to changes to youth welfare. If you live somewhere like Fairfield in NSW, Bundaberg in Queensland or Geelong in Victoria, then maybe you're best option is a seachange to somewhere with more jobs. Because, you know, that's really easier said than done.

STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS

Oh, so you know how one of the few positives about those potential gratuitous fee increases was more scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds? Well screw you, disadvantaged kids! Because now Startup Student Scholarships, which are mostly awarded to you folks, could be changed from non-repayable welfare grants to good old fashioned loans, leaving you in debt to the government just like any other chump!

How to get yourself out of this one? Just stop being so poor/Indigenous/far away from the city! Come on, mate, pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Don't you know that we're a nation of lifters not leaners? So stop leaning! You're letting the whole country down! And when you do lift, make sure that you bend your knees.

HEALTH

As the current Government just hates the idea of poor people receiving free medical attention, GP visits will cost most people a $7 co-payment under the Federal budget. “Hey, I guess that's not so much more to pay,” say the more bourgeois among you, but I hope you fatcats don't need any medicine any time soon, because now anyone with a prescription for a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) drug – that is, most medicine – will also pay an extra $5 for every PBS script they claim.

According to The Conversation, the average Aussie visits the GP somewhere between four and seven times a year, depending on how you want to interpret the statistics and how exactly you define a ‘GP visit’. Let's say you're somewhat sickly next financial year: you go to the doctor seven times and each time he prescribes you some drugs. You'll be spending $84 extra just to keep your body functioning.

In short, don't get sick. Stock up on orange juice. Carry hand sanitiser wherever you go and use it liberally. Live near a hospital? Move. Maybe a suburb or two away, just to be safe. Oh, and as Hijacked previously pointed out, you can also try healing crystals, as they'll now be cheaper than going to an actual doctor.

And if you have to give up contraception – because yes, this probably means you're going to be paying more for the Pill – you might as well just give up sex altogether. Celibacy is great! We hear God, in particular, loves it when people don't have sex, which is pretty important because if you can't afford to see a doctor or buy medicine, you're probably going to be meeting Him pretty soon.

So, in summary, it looks looking like surviving this budget isn't going to be all cigars and swing dancing for us students. Well, I guess you can always become a school chaplain or a ballet dancer. Alternately, lead your mole people brethren out into the light and claim Australia as your Subterranean Kingdom in a glorious crusade. These are all good options.

Simon Farley

Simon Farley is a student at the University of Melbourne and is now more machine than man. He blogs at Dinosaurs Love Fireworks

Image: WikiMedia Commons

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