Queensland's Newman government's decision to cut funding for HIV prevention has everyone wondering who'll be next to suffer.
Outrage circulated throughout the Brisbane creative arts community mere days after newly instated Queensland Premier Campbell Newman assumed office as the head of the state as he cut all funding for the Premier's Literary Award, which, in 2011, saw $230,000 awarded across 14 categories.
Newman has continued on his slashing frenzy ever since, cutting funding for green energy programs, making massive changes in the public service and now, cutting funding for Queensland's Lesbian Gay Transgender Bisexual support network, Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.
The organisation, which you can read about here, looks to stop the spread of HIV amongst Queenslanders as well as acting as a support network for the LGBT community. Yesterday it was announced that gay men's sexual health funding will be cut in three months, as will funding for the organisation's LGBT inclusiveness training and alcohol and other drugs program.
The cuts were justified by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg the rate of HIV cases diagnosed amongst Queenslanders has risen over the past decade.
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“When it comes to health, unlike Labor, I refuse to throw good money after bad and I refuse to turn a blind eye to what are obviously ineffective campaigns at reducing HIV diagnosis rates,” Mr Springborg said.
The organisation say they welcome a review, but believe the cuts are misdirected.
“Healthy Communities only receives funding for HIV prevention among gay men,” they said in a statement. “Other organisations and Queensland Government services receive funding for prevention and care & support work with other at risk communities. Gay men have decreased as a proportion of people diagnosed with HIV over the past 10 years.”
It is widely believed that the conservative government, the first Queensland has had since the National Party's Rob Borbidge was defeated by Peter Beattie in 1998, will focus on the arts sector when it comes to making further cuts down the track. Speaking with 4BC radio following the cutting of the Literary Awards, author John Birmingham said he believed there may be worse to come.
“He's not going to lose many, if any, votes out of getting rid of this prize, and out of slashing the hell out of a lot of arts budgets.
“There's quite a bit of state money [that] goes into supporting little theatre companies here and there, library programs for writers. People aren't aware of how much of this stuff goes on and in total it's not a huge amount of money. It's really not.
“[However] it makes a big difference to the people who are getting it, obviously, but in terms of the state budget, there's probably bigger tough cuts that he could make, but they're much tougher to sell.”
So where will Campbell cut from next? We'll be watching.