Not for Profits on Budget Alert
Tuesday, 3rd May 2016 at 11:07 am
Community sector organisations will be keeping a close eye on the federal budget, looking to the government to “prioritise revenue raising measures to fund essential services and jobs growth” with welfare, affordable housing, disability, education and foreign aid all under the spotlight.
The federal budget is being handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison Tuesday night – a week earlier than usual – to make way for a possible early double dissolution election on 2 July.
“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,” welfare peak body ACOSS said in a joint community statement.
“The May budget should realign spending priorities and strengthen the tax base rather than deliver further spending cuts. Tax cuts should be off the table until the government can be confident it can fund essential services.
“Above all, this budget must support people in need, particularly those struggling to survive on the below poverty line allowance payments, such as Newstart and Youth Allowance.
“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.”
— VCOSS (@VCOSS) April 28, 2016
Other Not for Profit organisations and peak bodies will be watching the budget for funding around homelessness and housing, foreign aid, education, aged care, innovation, the environment and advocacy, Indigenous programs, disability funding, community legal services and volunteer funding.
Podcast: ahead of the budget, Pro Bono Australia News sought out key leaders in the sector to give them a platform to voice their demands.
In March the St Vincent de Paul society called on the government to establish a $10 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund to address chronic housing and homelessness issues across Australia.
The federal opposition said the budget must deliver on housing affordability.
“Today’s federal budget must include initiatives to help first home buyers and those on modest incomes who are currently locked out of the housing market to realise the great Australian dream of homeownership,” Shadow Minister for Housing Senator Katy Gallagher said.
Childcare subsidies, tax incentives and superannuation reforms, infrastructure spending, a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance, and an increase in tobacco excise have already been flagged as budget announcements.
Aid agency UNICEF said: “Australia must invest in children’s education and health to ensure that no child is left behind and that every child’s rights to a fair and prosperous future are given the best chance, no matter who they are or where they are.”
A new report, Fairness for Children: A League Table of Inequality in Child Well-Being in Rich Countries, highlighted how some Australian children are falling behind against key international measures in education and health.
UNICEF said the starkest findings in the report are Australia’s position on health and education, with inequality indicators putting Australia at 27 out of 35 for health and 24 out of 37 for education.
“The results are clear.The gap between rich and poor is at its highest level in three decades in most OECD countries. In Australia, poverty is on the rise, with an estimated 2.5 million Australians living below the poverty line, including more than 600,000 children,” UNICEF Australia CEO Adrian Graham said.
“Education is not merely an election platform, the future of Australia’s poorest and most vulnerable children is at stake.
“With cuts of $224 million forecast to international aid, bringing Australia’s contribution to its lowest-ever level, and with more than a billion dollars being spent on the detention of children and families on Nauru, the question must be asked: is Australia prioritising the rights and needs of children not only in Australia, but in our region?”
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has described Scott Morrison’s budget day as seeking an “alibi for the last three years of chaos and cuts under Abbott and Turnbull”.
“Any responsible treasurer would be concerned about the budget bottom line as well as the bottom line of Australian family budgets – something which this government has shown a particular disregard for with their cuts to family payments, schoolkids bonus, attempted cuts to the aged pension,” Bowen said.
The treasurer will present his first budget to federal Parliament at 7.30pm Tuesday. The federal opposition will present its budget response on Thursday.