Community Sector Unites in Budget Demands
27 April 2016 at 7:23 am
More than 30 Australian community organisations have signed a joint statement, calling on the federal government to avoid the “mistakes of the last two budgets” and prioritise reducing poverty and inequality.
The group included the national and state councils of social service, Anglicare Australia, Family & Relationship Services Australia, Jobs Australia, Mission Australia and the Salvation Army.
In their statement on Wednesday, the group was scathing about the previous two budgets, which they said “focused almost exclusively on cutting community programs and services whilst doing little to secure the revenue required to fund essential services”.
“We cannot have another budget that attempts to achieve repair on the backs of people doing it the toughest in our community. This budget must correct those wrongs by taking off the budget books harmful proposals such as the planned cuts to family payments and the four week wait for income support for younger people,” the statement said.
“This budget cannot see any further retreat by the federal government or passing of responsibility to the states in areas of shared responsibility, such as health, education, housing and community services. The $80 billion cuts to states’ health and education budgets over the next decade should be fully reversed. A down-payment on an affordable housing growth fund should also be delivered.”
The group said this year’s budget should focus on revenue raising measures to fund essential services and jobs growth, rather than cutting spending and making tax concessions in an election year.
“At a time when public budgets are under stress and key services such as health and education are underfunded, the first priority should be to make sure we have the revenue we need to fund our schools, our hospitals, the social safety net and vital community services to support vulnerable people in our community, including those newly arrived, as well as meeting our international obligations to those overseas,” the statement said.
They also said the budget should take axe cuts off the table until the government can be “confident it can fund essential services”.
“Ultimately, comprehensive reform of the tax system, not ad hoc increases in taxes, is needed to make sure governments have the revenue they need. We must ensure revenue is raised in a way that is fair and avoids harming the economy.
“We believe the best approach is to close or reform tax concessions that are not fit for purpose, including negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions, tax breaks for superannuation, and the use of private companies and trusts to avoid tax, including shifting profits offshore.”
The group said that, ultimately, the budget needed to support people people in need, especially those living below the poverty line or relying on government benefits.
“It should not try to make further cuts to income support for people who face barriers to paid employment, including people with disability and single parents,” they said.
“Instead, the federal government must get behind the efforts of people trying to get a job in a challenging labour market, providing better support, through greater targeted assistance, case management, paid work experience, training and wage subsidies, particularly for people out of paid work long term.”
See the full statement and list of signatories here.
(Find out more about what the leaders of the Australian Not for Profit sector want from this year’s Federal Budget in our latest Podcast: Federal Budget – The Not for Profit Wishlist)