Everyone Deserves a Fair Crack at Happiness
9 May 2018 at 12:03 pm
The federal government has served up dollops of despair to those who are unemployed or underemployed, homeless or experiencing housing stress, writes St Vincent Paul Society National Council of Australia CEO Dr John Falzon.
Budgets should be a time when governments outline a practical vision of the future in which we share our common wealth for a just, prosperous and equitable future. In a wealthy country such as ours it should be a time of hope.
Instead we have a government that is pandering to greed and short-term gain by offering tax cuts that will lead inevitably to further cuts in services. They even want to lock the tax cuts in at the ridiculous figure of 23.9 per cent of GDP.
As a result, they have served up dollops of despair to those who are unemployed or underemployed, homeless or experiencing housing stress.
Cuts to income tax and company taxes erode the progressive nature of our tax system and punch a massive hole in government revenue. In the future, this will mean not enough money to pay for Medicare, not enough to pay for the NDIS, not enough for education and certainly not enough for a secure safety net in times of adversity.
This will mean more out-of-pocket expenses for low and middle-income earners. This is an irresponsible budget that will leave unemployed people, underemployed people, students and those struggling to pay high housing costs worse off immediately, and other low and middle-income earners worse off later.
Over the past four budgets the government cut $15 billion from social security and community services, and billions more are in the pipeline. It is unconscionable to be pursuing massive tax cuts while these spending cuts stand, and people on the lowest incomes continue to go without food or secure housing.
You don’t reduce inequality by doling out tax cuts to corporations whilst promising a return to surplus that can only come on the back of cuts to expenditure, that will hurt everyone bar the wealthy.
If you want to build a nation you’d start with a jobs plan, instead of a putting-the-boot-into-the-unemployed plan or a cutting wages plan or a making it difficult for new migrants plan. You’d lift Newstart and other low payments for the people this government persist in tearing down. Because you don’t build a nation up by tearing your people down.
As for being an infrastructure budget, there’s nothing wrong with building rail and road, but you need much more if you want to build a nation. You need to build roads for people, not from poverty on Newstart to poverty in paid work, but out of poverty completely. Because everyone deserves a fair crack at happiness.
About the author: Dr John Falzon is chief executive officer of the St Vincent Paul Society National Council of Australia. Trained in sociology, theology, politics and poetics, he has worked in academia, in community. development in large public housing estates and in research and advocacy in NGOs. He is also a poet.
Our 2018 budget coverage is brought to you by Community Sector Banking.