Community sector urges politicians to unite to find the right solution to reducing carbon pollution

25 February 2011

The community welfare sector today urged our national leaders to work together in setting Australia on the path towards a low carbon future.

“This is a time for all politicians to unite on the sensible road that we must take, as a nation, if we are to reduce our reliance on high polluting forms of energy and secure a healthy and prosperous future,” said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“This is not a time to instill fear in people about the prospect of higher energy prices. One thing that is clear is energy bills are surging now and continue to increase in the absence of a price on carbon.

“The community sector sees the impacts on a daily basis in our work with people struggling to makes end meet. Low income households are already feeling the pain of increasing power bills.

“This is why ACOSS insists the Government address the gross inadequacy of income support payments, as a precursor to pricing carbon. We particularly need an increase in Newstart Allowance as recommended by the Henry Tax Review.

“People on Newstart are currently living on just $33 a day, which clearly isn’t enough to live on now, and will get worse in the move towards a carbon pricing scheme.

“Our main concern is to ensure that low-income households are looked after because we know they have the least capacity to adapt or move.

“ACOSS was reassured by the commitment in yesterday’s announcement that households will receive assistance in any final agreement. However there is still much detail to resolve and we will scrutinise proposals every step of the way to ensure we end up with a fair scheme.

“We will also insist on a high degree of investment in energy efficiency measures for households as a key part of the equation. This is vital if we are to mitigate the effects, adapt, and cut costs in the transition towards a low carbon future.

“ACOSS urges all political parties and the Independents to work together and include the voices and expertise of the community and other sectors in finding a solution, to ensure that we get it right,” Dr Goldie said.

Media contact: Fernando de Freitas – 0419 626 155