The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has called on the Federal Government to prioritize investment into critical services and boosting the incomes and wages of those in the bottom 40% over more tax cuts in the upcoming budget.
ACOSS has submitted a Budget Priorities Statement to Federal Treasury ahead of the Federal Budget which asks the Government to take effective action to tackle the pandemic, sustaining employment growth, lifting the incomes and wages of those with the least, boosting essential services with an ageing population, and addressing the catastrophic threat of climate change.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says the upcoming federal budget presents an opportunity for the Coalition Government to address long standing inequalities, achieve full employment and ensure no one is left behind as we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
Current budget settings will not achieve these outcomes due to diminishing public revenue and forecasted reductions in public expenditures.
Instead of handing out more tax cuts, like the $16 billion per annum already committed, going mainly to people on higher incomes, ACOSS says Treasurer Frydenberg must deliver new investments to keep us safe and prepared for future uncertainties, strengthening essential service, tackling poverty, employment and the current housing crisis and climate emergency.
As outlined in the budget priorities statement, ACOSS has called for:
- The establishment of a minimum income floor in our income support system by lifting all income support payments to at least $69 a day, which is the same level as the pension and pension supplement and indexing them to wages as well as prices.
- A commitment to supplementary payments which meet specific needs, including lifting Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50%, providing a Disability and Illness Supplement of at least $50 a week as well as a Single Parent Supplement that recognises the costs of single parenthood.
- The introduction of a flexible Jobs and Training Guarantee for people unemployed long- term, comprising either subsidised temporary employment, substantial further education or training, or other help to connect them directly to suitable jobs.
- Investment of up to $5,000 in energy efficiency improvements per dwelling for 1.8 million low-income homes to cut emissions, energy bills, and create thousands of local jobs.
- A $1,000 per household in emergency energy debt relief to reduce energy payment difficulties made worse by COVID.
- The establishment of an Energy Transition Authority to provide a fair and inclusive transition for fossil fuel dependent workers and communities.
- A 20,000 dwelling, $7 billion social housing package to be rolled out over the next 3 years to reduce homelessness and kick-start housing constructions and growth in jobs and incomes.
“In the context of a fraying social safety net and service systems under strain, it is both irresponsible and unfair for the Treasurer to deliver further personal income tax cuts on Budget night. This is not what Australia needs right now. We also need the Government to rule out damaging cuts to already inadequate services and safety nets.” Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“This year’s budget is the last before the Federal Election. Voters want politicians to build a post-pandemic society that guarantees that if you fall on tough times, you will be supported to cover the basics. Voters also want certainty about the future of critical services, including aged care and the NDIS.
This Budget should outline a plan for investment in essential services, safety nets and a genuine response to climate change.
The Budget should focus on lifting the growth of incomes for people with less. It’s the right economic strategy for a government that cares.