Senate to Scrutinise Australia’s Inequality
19 June 2014 at 10:34 am
A Senate Inquiry into inequality and the gap between Australia’s rich and poor will go ahead – a move that the Australian Greens says will open the door for a proper review of the impact of the Federal Budget.
The Inquiry has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee – which will determine the dates for public submissions and hearings in the coming weeks. The Inquiry is due to report by November 26.
Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services Senator Rachel Siewert, who moved for the inquiry, welcomed the Senate’s support, stating that inequality is a growing problem in Australia and the Federal Budget will only make matters worse.
She said submissions would be encouraged and welcomed from individuals and organisations who wish to be involved.
“The Committee will also hold public hearings and consult widely with community and charity organisations,” she said.
“The Inquiry will examine the specific impacts of inequality on disadvantaged groups within the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older job seekers, people living with a disability or mental illness, refugees, single parents, those on a low income, people at risk of poverty in retirement as well as the relationship between gender and inequality.
“The Government cannot continue to avoid scrutiny of their budget and the impacts it will have. Inequality is a serious problem facing Australia, and it must be addressed.
“This week, Oxfam's report Still the Lucky Country? has shown that 79 per cent of Australians think the gap between our richest and poorest has grown over the last decade,” she said.
“The Government’s cruel range of budget measures, many of which were introduced into the House of Representatives today, is set to dramatically increase this inequality, by affecting some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.
“The budget deliberations, Commission of Audit and Welfare Review have been closed processes and we have legislation and policies that could harm people across the community and could expose them to poverty and entrenched, intergenerational disadvantage.
“Our inquiry will provide an opportunity to look at extent of income inequality in Australia and the rate at which income inequality is increasing.”
Senate Inquiry into Inequality – Terms of Reference:
That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by November 26:
(a) the extent of income inequality in Australia and the rate at which income inequality is increasing in our community;
(b) the impact of income inequality on access to health, housing, education and work in Australia, and on the quality of the outcomes achieved;
(c) the specific impacts of inequality on disadvantaged groups within the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older job seekers, people living with a disability or mental illness, refugees, single parents, those on a low income, people at risk of poverty in retirement as well as the relationship between gender and inequality;
(d) the likely impact of Government policies on current and future rates of inequality particularly the changes proposed in the 2014-15 Budget;
(e) the principles that should underpin the provision of social security payments in Australia; and
(f) the practical measures that could be implemented by Governments to address inequality, particularly appropriate and adequate income support payments.