ACOSS and its member organisations are concerned that as we emerge from the pandemic, Australia must confront persistent poverty and inequality, an ageing population, rising levels of mental illness and domestic violence, and the catastrophic threat of climate change.
We seek a guarantee from all political parties in the forthcoming election that if they win government, they will raise the resources needed to meet these big challenges and properly fund essential services and income supports rather than cutting them back.
COSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says:
“All of us in Australia need decent essential services and the confidence that our safety nets are there for us. We need a government with the revenue to deliver these, and to provide a genuine response to climate change.
“The COVID19 Pandemic and the ‘Black Summer’ Bushfires exposed the weaknesses of our most basic social, economic and environmental supports. However, these crises also demonstrated the power of governments to protect and advance our incomes, jobs and health.
“In the initial response to COVID19: Poverty was halved when the COVID supplement was available, over 700,000 jobs were saved, child care was affordable and people sleeping on the streets were housed. Two-thirds of the COVID Supplement went to women on low incomes.
” We must now confront persistent poverty and inequality, an ageing population, the spread of mental illness and domestic violence, and the catastrophic threat of climate change. The next government cannot do these things with the resources available to it.
“Australia is one of the wealthiest nations in the world measured by median household wealth but has the sixth-lowest social expenditure in the OECD. The 2021 Budget Papers estimate that Commonwealth government expenditure per person will fall by an average of 0.7% per year from 2022 to 2024, when major tax cuts commence.
“Yet both the Government and Opposition are committed to unaffordable income tax cuts – (two-thirds of which go to men with jobs in the top 10% by income) and the government wants to impose an arbitrary cap on tax revenue of 23.9%.
“Responsible government is not small or passive government. We cannot afford a contest over who can offer bigger tax cuts. Responsible government is about rising to the considerable challenges we face:
- Income support payments of $45 a day, well below the poverty line
- A growing number of people can’t afford housing
- Long waits for care services that are often of very poor quality
- Pressure to reduce funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
- Neglect of dental and mental health care
- Employment services that have failed to reduce entrenched, long-term unemployment
- The decline of our public and community education and training infrastructure
- Failure to ‘close the gap’ with community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services
- Inadequate public investment in the transition to a clean economy, disaster resilience and help for people to adapt to global warming.
“We know who is worst affected when payments and services are substandard or not available at all: people with the least resources in the community – whose voices are not heard when budgets are carved up; women are often most severely affected as they have fewer resources, are at greatest risk of poverty and take on most of the care load at home or in poorly paid jobs. They typically do the lion share of unpaid work in local communities helping to care and keep people safe.
“We call on our political leaders to guarantee that if they win government, they will raise the resources needed to meet these challenges and properly fund essential services and income supports rather than cutting them back.
“Australia faces big challenges. We can’t afford passive government.”
VIEW & DOWNLOAD – A Guarantee to the Nation: Community Sector call to all Parties
- Policy options to strengthen public revenue and improve fairness
- Budget challenges for the next government