ACOSS response to Treasurer’s economic statement: We must not sacrifice jobs to curb inflation

ACOSS is urging all sectors of society to work with government to keep unemployment low while curbing inflation, following the Treasurer’s bleak summary of the challenges we face, as set out in today’s Economic Statement.

‘Inflation must not be tamed at the expense of higher unemployment and a loss of the paid working hours people on the lowest incomes need to cover the basics,’ ACOSS Acting CEO Edwina MacDonald said today.

‘Treasury is predicting a rise in unemployment from 3.5% to 4% over the next two years, if interest rates increases as financial markets expect. That may not sound much, but we estimate this means around 75,000 more people are consigned to the unemployment queue.

‘It means most of the 900,000 people on poverty-inducing Jobseeker payments, most of whom have had to rely on income support for over a year already, will have to wait longer to secure employment.  

‘More people already struggling on low part-time wages will lose shifts. 

‘We already know that soaring cost of living pressures are having a devastating impact on many in the community, and we have heard from the Treasurer that is only going to get worse. It’s important to understand though that the lack of decent incomes is just as much a problem as rising costs. Income support must be increased in real terms, as $46 a day was not enough before these cost-of-living rises, let alone now.  

‘If the RBA lifts interest rates too quickly, or the government cuts spending too much now, then next year we will be seeing people on low incomes also worrying about their jobs. And people who are already locked out of paid work will face even greater barriers.   

‘To contain a breakout in inflation without sparking a breakout of unemployment the Reserve Bank needs help. We call on the Government, the unions, business and civil society to work together through the Jobs and Skills Summit to find better ways to control inflation, and ease labour shortages, than increasing unemployment.

‘Above all, we need a commitment from governments, and all sectors of society, to full employment, where people can secure the jobs and additional paid hours they need to cover the basics, and wages, income supports and community living standards can grow again.’ 

For further information please contact the Media team on 0419 626 155