What Australia’s community sector wants and doesn’t want in the Federal Budget

Joint community sector statement, Wednesday April 27, 2016

Community sector organisations today issued a united call for this year’s Federal Budget to put reducing poverty and inequality at the heart of its purpose. This should be done by prioritising revenue raising measures to fund essential services and jobs growth, rather than by focusing narrowly on cuts to spending and unaffordable tax cuts in an election year.

Joint Statement
“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 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.

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.

Read the Full Statement and list of Signatories here.

ACOSS calls for State stamp duty – land tax switch to lift economic growth

ACOSS today released a policy brief highlighting the economic benefits of a switch from stamp duties to land tax.

The case for tax reform: Stamp Duties and Land Tax calls on the Commonwealth to support the states to design and implement the change, including by putting some revenue on the table to help with transition arrangements.

“If the goal of tax reform is economic growth, then the best reform option is a switch from stamp duties to efficient land taxes,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

Read Full Statement and Find out More here.

Register for the ACOSS conference & HESTA community awards dinner!

Registrations are now open for the ACOSS conference on the 18-19 November and the HESTA community awards dinner on the first night of the conference, 19 November. Find out more and register here.

COAG: deliver secure health & education funding

Peak community, health and education groups have called on the Federal Government to forge an agreement with the states and territories at this week’s COAG meeting to guarantee critical health and needs based education funding into the long term.

The groups, including ACOSS, Consumers Health Forum, the Australian Education Union, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the Australian Council of State School Organisations, want to see the funding for public hospitals that was taken out of the National Health Reform Agreement restored, and a commitment to fund the full six years of needs based education as proposed by the independent Gonski Review, beyond the current 4 year commitment.

Read Full Joint Statement here.

Government cannot allow vested interests to railroad much-needed reform to negative gearing

Community service and housing organisations today called on the Federal Government to resist fighting an election campaign on a platform of inaction on housing affordability. Reform of housing tax concessions is vital to improving access to housing for those currently locked out secure housing, including a growing proportion of young people and people renting. Home ownership rates of young people aged 25-34 have fallen by 13% since the mid-70s.

The groups, including ACOSS, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, National Shelter, and National Association of Tenants’ Organisations, said:

“Negative gearing and the 50% capital gains tax ‘discount’ have fuelled speculative investment in the property market, driving up prices, rents and household debt. These concessions are economically harmful and must be reformed.

Read Full Joint Statement here.

Government policies ignore children in poverty

ACOSS has called for the Federal Parliament to reject proposals to cut the family payments of low income single parent and couple households, following the release of a new report showing that an extraordinary 19% of children aged 8-14 years are going hungry.

In addition, ACOSS has renewed its call for Australia to set a clear poverty reduction target as the core purpose of economic growth and job creation.

The Australian Child Wellbeing Project, launched on 25 February, shows that although most middle years children are doing well, almost one in five children surveyed are falling behind and going hungry. These include young people with a disability, young carers, materially disadvantaged young people, culturally and linguistically diverse young people, Indigenous young people, young people in rural and remote Australia and young people in out of home care.

Read full media release here.

Budget must set a new course: a sustainable revenue base to meet community needs

Releasing its submission to the Federal Budget, the Australian Council of Social Service has called on the Federal Government to set a new course to sustain the budget and the essential services the community needs and values. The government must realign its spending priorities and strengthen the tax base.ACOSS Dr CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “The Government must not repeat the mistakes of the last two budgets which focused almost exclusively on the spending side and did little to secure the revenue required to fund essential services.”

Read Full Statement here.

DOWNLOAD ACOSS Budget Priorities Statement.

Using a higher GST to pay for income tax cuts is a ‘recipe for more inequality’: new report

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.

Read Full Statement here.

Download Report here.

Councils of Social Service call for National Anti-Poverty Plan

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.

Inequality in Australia: watch and share the video!

A nation splintering amid growing inequality: ACOSS report

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.

Read Full Statement here and more information here.