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Labor’s social policy framework lays strong foundation to reduce poverty

2 min read

The Labor party’s newly released social policy agenda, ‘Growing Together’, is said to offer new policy thinking and a new agenda.

“‘Growing Together’ will aim to put inclusive growth and social investment at the centre of Australia’s future,” the party outlined in the report.

“Labor believes all Australians should benefit from economic growth and every Australian who is able to work deserves a decent job. We believe Australians should be supported to manage the risks and grasp the opportunities of change.”

ACOSS has welcomed the new agenda.

“In a political system that’s adrift in the daily media cycle, Labor’s social policy agenda brings long overdue attention, focus and rigour to efforts to reduce inequality and poverty, placing good social policy at the centre of good economic policy,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.

“The platform builds strong foundations for policies to reduce inequality and poverty, including full employment, decent incomes, universal services, and shifting power to communities.

“We need more of this kind of serious, long-term policy thinking from all sides of politics. Affordable housing and a fair and efficient tax system should also be added to the mix.”

Goldie said that the statement signals the need for well targeted public investment in benefits, services and community infrastructure from a future government.

“This is an investment, not a cost. In our view there’s no conflict between investing in people and growing the economy: they are one and the same thing. It’s vital that governments make room for these investments rather than imposing arbitrary caps on public spending,” said Goldie.

“We need governments with high ambitions for Australia, and full employment and reducing poverty and inequality are important ones.

“ACOSS welcomes Labor’s commitment to a full employment objective, an expert review of the adequacy of Newstart Allowance and its acknowledgement that the purpose of family payments is to prevent poverty among children. Taken together, these are the most important things governments can do to reduce poverty in Australia.”

The Labor policy platform aims to reduce the poverty and waste of mass unemployment in three ways: ensuring there are enough jobs, investing in better employment services for people unemployed long term so they have a good chance of securing a job, and improving benefits so that people can live decently while searching for jobs.

Labor’s social policy agenda calls for the replacement of the two parts of Family Tax Benefits: Part A for all low and middle income families and Part B for single income families, with a single payment.

“ACOSS supports reforms to simplify the family payments system. It is vital that any redesign of family payments gives priority to reducing child poverty and improves the circumstances of sole parent families who are living in poverty,” said Goldie.

“If well designed and properly resourced, these services not only improve lives, they save governments money in the long run and grow the economy. Much of what we call ‘good social policy’ is actually good economic policy as well.”

National Director of UnitingCare Australia, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the report is challenging and constructive and lays a strong platform for future policy discussion and development.

“An election year is a good time to ‘re-set the policy sails’ to ensure a decent life for all Australians into the future,” said Dodds.


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