ACOSS calls on federal Government to sustain essential community needs
Releasing its submission to the Federal Budget this week, the Australian Council of Social Service has called on the Federal Government to set a new course to sustain the budget and the essential services the community needs and values. The government must realign its spending priorities and strengthen the tax base, the organisation said.
“The Government must not repeat the mistakes of the last two budgets which focused almost exclusively on the spending side and did little to secure the revenue required to fund essential services,” says ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
ACOSS has proposed $9.5 billion in savings in 2017-18 from reforms to strengthen the income tax base, and the reallocation of $6 billion, to address unmet need in vital services. This includes affordable housing and to address unemployment payments and rent assistance.
“The impact of our revenue generating measures will grow in value and steadily erode the budget deficit over time. This is essential to adequately fund services, retain and build confidence and steadily reduce the deficit,” said Goldie.
Goldie said that the most important investment the Government could make in the budget to reduce poverty is an increase to the unemployment payment, which is currently $37 a day.
“Through the National Reform Summit, business, community and union groups, including ACOSS, agreed that as an overarching fiscal goal, the budget should be progressively returned to structural balance over 10 years through a staged reform process,” said Goldie.
Groups also agreed that those on the lowest incomes should be protected in the reform process, which should tackle both revenue and spending.
“We encourage the Government to build on these foundations and use this Budget alongside the tax and federation reform processes, to set the direction for balanced and fair reform,” Goldie said.
The press conference took place at 10.30 am on Tuesday the 16th of February.