Welfare Community Pushes Treasurer on Budget Shortfalls
14 May 2012 at 3:54 pm
Not for Profit leaders have pushed the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, to defend the Federal Budget, saying that "Robin Hood has been lost in the forest" when it comes to those people forgotten in the Budget.
But Swan has defended his 'Robin Hood' Budget saying that it "maximises opportunity for a stronger, fairer and more inclusive Australia" amid some criticism from leaders from the community sector.
Swan delivered his fifth budget – also coined the 'welfare budget' – last week amid a mixed response from the Not for Profit sector.
Speaking in Melbourne at a post-budget lunch organised by the Australian Council of Social Service and attended by more than 200 sector leaders, Treasurer Swan said that while not everyone will be happy with the Budget savings, the social sector should understand the importance of good fiscal policy.
But the Treasurer said that the Government wasn't driven by savings but "good social and economic policy".
"This Budget has shown that you can balance the books but still find room for important social reforms," Swan said.
"To be a strong economy we must remain united.
"A nation that grows together and not apart is what the Budget, and this government, is about."
However Not for Profit leaders have criticised the $4 a week increase in the Newstart Allowance and the forcing of sole parents back to the workforce.
The NFP leaders urged the Federal Treasurer for a Budget turn-around on the measure they claim leaves 100,000 sole parents worst off.
While the Budget was generous to families with school children, welfare peak body ACOSS said single-parent families have been left out in the cold following the announcement that they will be moved off parenting payments to the lower paying Newstart Allowance once their youngest child reaches the age of eight.
The Government's cuts to parenting payments will reportedly save $700 million.
ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said that the Budget savings were an “unnecessary attack” on 100,000 single parents.
However the Treasurer stood by the decision saying cuts to parenting payments were brought in to encourage people to work.
He said the Budget was about tackling big social reform such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, dental care and the aged.
"This Budget demonstrates that we can maintain discipline, invest in our economy and deliver on our social reforms for the most vulnerable in our society," Swan said.
Mention of the $1 billion funding for NDIS brought loud applause from the the NFP leaders at the lunch.
Leading up to the Budget announcement, welfare organisations pressured the Government to increase the Newstart Allowance by $50 a week but the announcement fell well short of that amount, with just $4 a week extra.
National Council for Single Mothers and their Children chief executive Terese Edwards said the cuts to single parent families was a "betrayal".
"A way of instilling equity would be to bring us up, not bring us down," Edwards told the Treasurer.
Not for Profit leaders called on the Treasurer to explain what the future held for those on long-term unemployment, affordable housing and retirement reform for low income Australians.
ACOSS has released an Initial Budget Analysis available for download.