Australian international aid and community sector agencies today united behind churches across the country who are opening their doors to asylum seekers facing removal back to offshore detention centres.
The groups, including ACOSS, Australian Council for International Development, Anglicare Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, Mission Australia, Oxfam Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, Save the Children, and World Vision, urge the Australian government to allow the families and their children to stay in Australia.
“The High Court of Australia may have ruled against the challenge to the legality of our offshore detention centres, but what’s at stake here is the safety and wellbeing of traumatised and vulnerable people, including 37 babies and 54 children. This goes beyond technical legalities, it’s about our humanity, our morals and values, our human rights obligations and what’s the right humanitarian thing to do,” said ACFID Chief Executive Officer, Mr Marc Purcell.
“We are a wealthy nation made up of people who have been welcomed from all around the world. It is certainly within our capacity and our moral duty to provide these people sanctuary,” said ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie.
Read Full Statement here.
In responding to the NSW Premier Mike Baird’s revised proposal to increase the GST, the Australian Council of Social Service said the plan would leave low and modest income earners worse off, who would pay more of their income in GST, and leave unchecked the tax breaks and loopholes that allow higher income earners to avoid paying their fair share of tax.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“We are disappointed that the whole focus of tax reform is on the GST, when there are better and fairer ways to raise revenue.
“If we are serious about using tax reform to improve economic efficiency, why aren’t the Premiers and the Federal Government talking about strengthening land taxes, our most efficient tax base?
Read Full Statement here.
ACOSS today called on the Federal Government to release modelling on the impact of the planned $4.8 billion cuts to family payments.
CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “These are significant cuts that will have a devastating impact, especially on single parents and low income couple families, and should not be pursued.
“It is unfortunate that the Government continues to resist disclosure of the full impacts. Until now it has only released selected cameos of families in paid work with younger children who are also using child care. What we haven’t seen is separate modelling of the impacts of family payments and childcare packages and cohort analysis of impacts on single parent and couple families with children of different ages. Without this information it’s hard to see how parliament could be expected to vote on such changes.”
Read Full Statement here.
ACOSS has released new modelling from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) to show what an increase in the GST to 15% would mean for households across the community. The NATSEM modelling also shows what it would mean if the Federal Government used the revenue from an increase in the GST to fund a reduction in personal income taxes across different income groups.
“The NATSEM modelling of an increase to 15% on the existing base of the GST or a broadening of the GST base to fresh food, health and education confirms that either change would be regressive. Low and modest income households would clearly pay a higher proportion of their income, in comparison to higher income households through an increase in the GST, whether by increasing the rate or broadening the base by removing the exemptions,” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.
Responding today to the introduction of a new family payments bill into the Parliament, ACOSS has urged against looking for budget savings in family payments for single parents and low income couple households, and advanced an alternative reform proposal.
“On our numbers a low income single parent family with 2 children will take a hit of more than $60 per week or $3000 per year over time once their youngest child turns 13, due to the reduction in Part B and the withdrawal of end of year supplements. We cannot support this,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
Read Full Media Release here.
ACOSS and the State and Territory Councils of Social Service have released a statement on reform of the federation based on legislated ‘community service guarantees’ in areas of shared responsibility to ensure universal access to affordable essential services for people across the country. The statement also sets directions for tax reform to help pay for these guarantees.
“A basic duty of governments is to provide certainty for people that when they need a doctor, home care, or schooling for their children, those services are available and of good quality regardless of their income and where they live. The present federal system in Australia fails to provide that certainty. Federation and taxation reform are needed to guarantee access to essential services into the future”, said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO, speaking on behalf of the Councils.
At the start of Anti-Poverty Week, ACOSS and all eight State and Territory Councils of Social Service, are calling for the development of a national plan to tackle growing poverty and inequality in Australia, including setting targets to ensure the incomes of the lowest income earners increase at least at the pace of those in the middle.
For too long, poverty reduction has been off the political agenda, rarely spoken about or acknowledged by our political leaders. This month, the Australian Government signed up to poverty reduction targets as part of its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Following this commitment, and as public policy debate opens up in the wake of leadership change, we must ensure there is space for a national conversation about poverty.
Read Full Joint Statement here.
ACOSS played a prominent role in the National Reform Summit (26 August 2015), which brought business, union and community groups together with the aim of reaching consensus on some of the big reform challenges facing our nation – such as productivity growth, fiscal policy, tax reform, and retirement incomes.
We join with our Summit colleagues in agreeing that it was a good and necessary first step towards effective reform; and was a success, having reached agreement on a set of principles and actions for next steps which were outlined in a Joint Statement released at the end of the day.
The Summit groups committed to work together on more detailed work in all the key areas identified in order to progress much needed reform in the national interest.
Find more about the Summit and follow developments here.
ACOSS today urged Australian governments to make addressing growing inequality a top policy priority following its new report revealing that income and wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of fewer people over the past two decades across the country.
Releasing its analysis, Inequality in Australia: A nation divided, ACOSS says that while inequality is not extreme in Australia by international comparison, we are trending in the wrong direction.