Community rallies against budget plans
AN estimated 170 people attended a 'Bust the Budget' protest rally at Lismore's Heritage Park yesterday and all were positive that their negative reaction to the Abbott government was justified.
Opening the round of speeches, mayor and confessed Labor supporter Jenny Dowell said the Federal Government was "mean and stupid" in its assumptions about the Australian people.
"There has never been a time in my life when I have felt so ashamed by our federal government," Ms Dowell said.
"I want to live in a generous and warm-hearted country. We have magnificent riches and magnificent people but now we have a government which says life must be hard and painful. It's like we must go in for self-flagellation.
"We need a government that invests in cleverness."
NSW Teachers' Federation spokeswoman Sharon Usher told the assembled crowd that "the age of enlightenment" was over.
"When we were told by this government that we would have to do the heavy lifting, we did not expect it to be done by the sick, the elderly, the disadvantaged and the students," Ms Usher said.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association branch secretary Gil Wilson said the push by the Abbott government to impose a Medicare co-payment was a "barrier to health".
"Anything that creates a barrier to people seeking help with their health must not be of benefit," Mr Wilson said.
"The GP end of the health spectrum is the less expensive end. The hospital end comes at a greater cost and this co-payment will create more pressure on emergency rooms and will come at a greater cost."
Lismore activist Juanita Punita-Boardman told the protest assembly that the Federal Government offered "huge subsidies" to the coal and gas industries yet slugged the old, the poor and the unhealthy.
"They are telling us that we are a burden," she said.
"They tell us to get a job. What jobs?
"They have ripped $1 billion out of apprenticeship schemes and TAFE education and they are coming for your penalty allowance."