Government leaders urged to find long term solutions to fund vital public services

Councils of Social Service (COSS) across Australia today called on the Council of Australian Governments to work together on long term solutions to fund important universal and social services such as health, education, housing and community services into the future.

As our national leaders prepare to meet, we urge them to put aside political differences and forge a way forward which guarantees access to services for all Australians into the future, regardless of location or income, through secure long-term revenue streams.

“Governments, including the Commonwealth, must not retreat from their responsibility to guarantee universal access to services across the country. The $80 billion cut from health and schools funding to the States over the next decade will severely hamstring the states and lead to a deterioration of services and adverse outcomes, especially for those on low incomes. The federal cuts to community services have also been damaging. This is a critical time.

“States and territory governments need secure, reliable sources of income to fund vital services. Competitive federalism undermines their ability to generate adequate revenue. Federalism must be a partnership.

“We believe there is a fairer alternative path to the repair of the federal budget without cutting vital services or simply shifting the problem on to the states by cutting federal funding. Unfortunately the best options have been ruled out by the Government in advance of the taxation review.

‘We need a structural approach to tax reform which improves the overall progressive collection of revenue, improves job opportunities, investment and productivity. We need revenue to be shared equitably to deliver essential services across the country.

“We want to see everything on the table, not just the GST, but also land taxes, superannuation tax breaks, capital gains tax, negative gearing and other areas of taxation. We cannot rule things in and out at the start of a reform process. The community will not accept any secret deal struck on the GST, when the formal tax reform process involving the community has just got underway with the release of the Federal Tax Discussion paper.

“Ultimately who pays is a key question, in the short and long-term. We believe that those with the greater capacity to pay should pay more than those who struggle to pay for bare necessities.

“The community is looking for leadership from our Governments. With so much at stake, we urge them to come together in a spirit of cooperation to agree on a reform process that will enable both the Commonwealth and State Governments to secure a sustainable revenue base to invest and fund the important community programs and services we all want into the future.”

Media contacts:
Fernando de Freitas (ACOSS & NTCOSS) – 0419 626 155
Susan Helyar (ACTCOSS – 0448 791 987
Karen Murphy (QCOSS) – 0423 245 252
John Mikelsons (NCOSS) – 0401 679 094
Ross Womersley (SACOSS) – 0418 805 426
Kym Goodes – TasCOSS – 03 6231 0755
John Kelly (VCOSS) – 0418 127 153
Irina Cattalini (WACOSS) – 0422422438