16 December 2019
The MYEFO contains some extremely modest new funding announcements for people going through tough times but misses the big opportunities to reduce hardship, support jobs and lower unemployment. The tax cuts have failed to achieve this and more of the same will only threaten funding for essential services.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“We have made no progress in reducing unemployment for the past year, and the MYEFO statement confirms we won’t make progress for the next two years without changes.
“The main action taken this year to support the economy and jobs growth – $8 billion in tax cuts – hasn’t worked. Bringing forward more tax cuts would repeat the same mistake and deplete the revenue we need for essential services in future.
“Despite calls from the RBA, IMF and OECD to restore flagging growth in household and business spending, the Government continues to hold growth in public spending to ‘record lows’.
“The Government has again failed to raise Newstart, after 25 years without a real increase, despite the obvious need and leading economists citing the benefits in providing economic stimulus.
“The budget update misses other key opportunities to reduce hardship while stimulating the economy, including investment in social housing construction and in energy efficiency improvements to existing homes for people on low incomes, which would cut energy bills and climate emissions. While there is some new funding announced to improve energy efficiency for residential and commercial buildings it is too small, at $10 million, to ensure all people on low-incomes can be safe in extreme summer heat.
“On the whole, the budget update contains very little good news for people on low incomes.
“We welcome the Government’s new commitment of $7 million for rural financial counselling services for people impacted by drought and $10 million for financial wellbeing and capability more broadly. Much more is needed.
“The previously announced aged care funding, including $500 million for in-home care packages, is also welcome, however, it does not go nearly far enough, which the harrowing evidence presented at the Aged Care Royal Commission makes clear.
“Despite the Government pocketing money from some of our most vulnerable through incorrect robodebts, it has not yet budgeted for back payments to those affected or action to reform the debt recovery system so that it does not make such damaging errors in the future.
“The community services sector is disappointed to see that the Government has not yet guaranteed funding beyond 2021 to provide fair wages in our feminised sector in response to Fair Work Australia’s Equal Remuneration Order. If the government does not guarantee this funding, it will widen the gender pay gap and mean cuts to vital services.
“Overall, the Government has not secured funding for services we all rely on in health, education and community services. While the MYEFO Statement speaks of ‘guaranteeing’ funding for essential health, education and community services, the numbers in the budget statement say otherwise. The claim that growth in public spending can be held at 50 year lows to fund Australia’s largest tax cuts ever is unrealistic, and puts those services at risk.”