ACOSS welcomes first steps towards price on carbon pollution

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes today’s agreement between the Government and the Australian Greens on a pathway towards a price on carbon pollution, adding that it is a positive step forward and a major contribution to the debate.

“Finding a solution to the problem is urgent, but this needs to be balanced with getting it right,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said today.

“We welcome the commitment to spend revenue on assistance for households and communities, and on the transition to a low-carbon economy. It’s a big job.

“Low-income households will be affected by climate change first and worst. They have little capacity to cope, adapt or move. Similarly, they will be affected by even relatively small increases in prices for basics, essentials like energy and fuel.

“ACOSS calls on Government, the Greens and the Independents to fully cover any increases brought about by pricing carbon. Governments must also invest in energy efficiency for low-income households; it’s about mitigation, adaptation, and cost savings.

“We also call on the Federal Government to address the gross inadequacy of income support payments, as a precursor to pricing carbon; we are particularly concerned about the need to increase the Newstart Allowance in line with Ken Henry’s recommendations.

“Right now, people on Newstart are living on just $33 a day, which, for example, is almost $130 a week less than people living on the Age Pension. Newstart hasn’t received a real increase for almost twenty years. It isn’t enough to live on now, let alone when prices rise under a carbon pricing scheme.

“Any scheme must be effective in reducing carbon pollution, and do so cost-efficiently. It must actually bring about change towards a cleaner economy. The design of a scheme must not further disadvantage low income households. We look forward to working with Government to develop details of a scheme,” Dr Goldie said.

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