Restore the public revenue piggy bank to fund NDIS & other essential services, don’t break it now to cut taxes, ACOSS warns

Wednesday November 22, 2017

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie warned today that essential services like the NDIS and health care are under-funded and that public revenues must be strengthened, not raided for unfunded tax cuts.

“Now is not the time to raid the public revenue piggy bank for another round of un-funded tax cuts,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie warned today.

“It’s the wrong time for unfunded tax cuts, when future funding for the NDIS isn’t secured, health and hospitals are under-funded with big cuts in federal funding looming in three years’ time, and harsh social security cuts are still before the Senate.

‘’As surely as night follows day, an unfunded tax cut now will be followed by cuts to spending on health, education and social security,” Dr Goldie said.

“It was the eight unfunded tax cuts in the 2000s that set the scene for the ‘horror’ 2014 Budget. Most taxpayers are still paying less income tax now than they would if those tax cuts were not legislated.

‘’The government is sending conflicting messages about its budget strategy. In this year’s budget it proposed to strengthen revenue for services by raising the Medicare Levy and introducing a tax on bank assets, a new policy direction ACOSS welcomed. At the same time it wants to cut company tax without funding those tax cuts, and has now flagged personal tax cuts.

“The Medicare Levy Bill should be introduced and passed before the end of the year, with changes to improve the progressivity of the Levy. ACOSS has advocated amendments to make it harder for people with smart tax advice to avoid paying the Levy, and higher increases for high income-earners than for low income-earners. As ACOSS and disability advocates have argued, everyone who can afford to do so should contribute to the future cost of the NDIS and essential health services.

“The harsh social security cuts before the Senate should be abandoned. These save little money (less than $1 billion a year) but would cause much pain. They would hit people who lose their partner (cuts to bereavement payments), people who lose their jobs (up to six months’ wait for benefit for those with modest savings in the bank), and people studying to improve their future job prospects (cuts to the Pensioner Education Supplement).

“Unlike this year’s tax cut for higher income-earners, those social security cuts will be long remembered by those people. The tax cut is already forgotten.

“The government should send a consistent, considered, and forward-looking message on budget strategy. It should fill the public revenue piggy bank and guarantee the future of essential services before breaking it to pay for tax cuts.”