Services First Alliance Group
Friday, 26th March 2004 at 12:03 pm
Parent, teacher, doctor, disability, Indigenous, housing and welfare groups have launched a new broad based alliance – Services First.
Services First is non party political and says it will argue for more support for health, education and welfare services and against tax cuts, over at least the next term of the Australian Government.
It is the first such broad alliance established for this purpose.
ACOSS President Andrew McCallum says the community will pay a heavy price if it falls for a politician’s tax cut bribe. Last year’s ‘sandwich and milkshake’ tax cut was worth just $4 per week for an average worker, but it cost the $2.5 billion.
He says what is given with one hand is taken by the other. Essential health, education, housing and community services are starved of funds; tax cuts mean higher fees or debts, longer queues, and poorer services.
The President of the Australian Council of State School Organisations Judith Bundy says all parents worry for the future of their kids, especially when class sizes are too large to ensure a good learning environment. Fees at all levels of education mean families struggle to give their kids the start they deserve.
Bundy says education is not a level playing field. For most it’s an up-hill climb, yet the well-off start at the top.
Associate Professor Stuart-Harris, from the National Public Hospital Clinicians Task Force says more support is needed for local GP, dental, aged care and other health services, especially as our population ages.
He says sick people should not have to worry about the cost to front line health services or be left waiting in queues. The crisis in our hospitals needs to be addressed. Quality of life, and life itself, are at stake.
Robert Altamore, from the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations says people with disabilities often can’t afford to pay and shouldn’t have to wait for essential health, housing and employment services.
Altamore says tax cuts will deny people with disabilities the services they need to live their daily lives and participate in the community.
Andrew McCallum concludes that further tax cuts will deprive Governments of the ability to stem the rising tide of inequality and hardship in the midst of affluence.