ACOSS calls on all parties to put poverty on the election agenda

The Australian Council of Social Service has today written an open letter asking all the major political parties to put reducing poverty and inequality at the heart of the 2016 Federal Election.

“Economic growth needs to be inclusive and to lift the living standards of people who have the least. To achieve this, active policies are needed. ACOSS calls on the major parties to clearly set out their policies in this Election to address the primary drivers of poverty and inequality in Australia,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, ACOSS.

“Despite over two decades of economic growth, and Australia being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, at least 2.6 million people and 600 000 children are still living below the poverty line.”

“Inequality in Australia is on the rise. Forty per cent of households in Australia earn just $68,000 or less and their share of overall incomes is declining.”

“At the same time, wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated. ACOSS research shows that between 2004 and 2012, the wealth of the highest 20% increased by 28% while the wealth of the lowest 20% increased by only 3%. This must be a focus for policy action.”

“Governments control many of the levers than drive poverty and inequality and can reduce both through well-designed reforms.”

The ACOSS letter seeks:

  • national targets to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, for example through a national poverty reduction target
  • action to increase unemployment payments and improve support to help people obtain paid work
  • action to address housing affordability, including tax reform and action to increase supply and relieve rental stress
  • action to ensure adequate community services for disadvantaged people and communities
  • action to close tax loopholes and improve the fairness of the retirement incomes system
  • action to address climate change which ensures that people on low incomes and people who are vulnerable are protected, and able to adapt to its impacts
  • action to promote a robust and open democracy, including an independent civil society

The major political parties are invited to outline their relevant policy proposal and budgetary commitments. Link here

The answers will be published on our website to help provide non-partisan advice to the public and our national members on the economic and social policies affecting them.

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