The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the federal government to put people and the community ahead of vested interest groups and make tackling poverty a priority in its economic statement due in the coming days.
‘While the budget situation is clearly challenging for the government, with over $60 billion in annual revenues lost since the GFC, budgets are always about priorities and choices,’ said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
‘We agree on the vital importance of getting the Budget on a sustainable footing in order to fund the crucial social infrastructure we all want; however, this must not be done at any cost.
‘We cannot see cuts to vital programs or inaction on dealing with our national housing affordability crisis and growing rate of poverty. Similarly we cannot backtrack from much needed investments in education, health and disability support services.
‘It is difficult to justify a tax subsidy of $14 billion for superannuation contributions made by employers, when around half of this goes to the top 20 per cent of taxpayers. The government’s announcement of a five year freeze on further reform in this area is a retreat in the face of vested interests and does not augur well for the future of tax reform in Australia.
‘The reality is that despite two decades of unprecedented growth our country faces growing inequality. One in eight people are currently living in poverty, including one in six children. This is simply unacceptable.
‘The government faces a choice – whether to give priority to the poorest, including those languishing on payments like the $35 a day Newstart Allowance, and those who benefit from poorly targeted and wasteful programs and tax breaks.’