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Unemployed and pensioners ‘collateral damage’ in budget fight

Hand In Hand, by Gary Knight flickr.com/photos/garryknight

Hand In Hand, by Gary Knight flickr.com/photos/garryknight

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), said on Monday the budget fight looming at the start 45th Parliament threatens to hurt those on the lowest incomes.

‘The government has announced this week that the first order of business for the new parliament will be to cut the Newstart Allowance, pensions and family payments through removal of the energy supplement,’ said Dr Goldie.

ACOSS, Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Carers Australia, Jobs Australia, National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, National Welfare Rights Network, People with Disability, and Welfare Rights Centre have jointly written to both the prime minister and leader of the opposition calling on them to retain the energy supplement.

‘The removal of the supplement is slated to be part of a $6.5 billion “savings” bill when Parliament resumes in a fortnight,’ Dr Goldie said.

‘The government has challenged Labor and the cross-bench to support these cuts.

‘Whatever the original purpose of the energy supplement, neither Labor nor any other party with a commitment to a decent social safety net could support slashing payments to people living below the poverty line.

‘The proposed cuts to social security payments come at the same time as Parliament debates $5 billion in company taxes and $4 billion in income tax cuts for people earning over $80,000, and the government is baulking at capping tax breaks for people contributing over $500,000 to super.

‘This continues the government’s harsh and one-sided budget policy approach, which has been roundly rejected by the community and should now be rejected by the parliament.

‘Neither side of politics should underestimate the level of opposition to these cuts from community and social welfare organisations right across the board.

‘People who are unemployed, living on $38 per day, face losing a minimum of $4.40 a week, while someone earning $200,000 would receive $6 a week in personal income tax cuts.

‘For people on Newstart, $4.40 buys essentials like bread or milk. A $6 per week tax cut for someone on $200,000 is loose change.

‘The 2016-17 Budget included $7 billion in cuts to social security and family payments affecting people on the lowest incomes. Cuts to family payments would see a sole parent with two teenage children lose $60 a week in income.

‘This must stop. We cannot afford personal and company tax cuts, or extravagant super tax breaks, when the government claims to lack the revenue it needs to fund basic income support and essential services like Medicare and schools and legal aid.’

Read the letter to the Prime Minister and the letter to the Leader of the Opposition.


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