In response to the 2015–16 Federal Budget, the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia says while it might be dull, the Budget will not dull the pain for people who struggle to makes ends meet. Sadly, it also represents a lost opportunity for the government and community sector to join together following the aftermath of last year’s Budget, to create a fairer Budget this year.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said: “This government is presiding over a growth in unemployment and inequality. This Budget hurts people who wage a daily battle to survive as long as it refuses to make the big end of town pay its share through progressive tax reform.”
“It can find the money to fund childcare and nannies for the rich, but only at the expense of the poor. In the meantime it refuses to lift the abysmally low Newstart unemployment benefit – resorting to income management instead of income adequacy.”
“This Budget doesn’t dull the pain because:
- It refuses to reinstate and increase funding for social services, social housing, public health and public education, with many of these essential services slashed in last year’s Budget.
- It persists in putting the boot into the unemployed, young people, sole parents, and people with a disability, blaming them for their own exclusion.
- It recycles a tired work-for-the-dole plan, instead of boldly building a nation through a Jobs Plan and an economic development plan especially in areas of high youth unemployment.”
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Graham West, urged the government to make a fresh start in its approach to social policy in coming days and weeks to reach its own budget benchmark of fairness, or risk controversial changes to childcare and family payments failing to pass the Senate.
“The Society will always be there for people to provide emergency assistance and support, but governments also have a responsibility to people living with the pain of poverty and inequality. We maintain our vision of a proud and generous Australia that does not close its eyes to the poor, both here and overseas,” Mr West said.
Dr Falzon said ideology dressed up as rationality will not dull people’s pain: “let alone address the causes of the pain for over 105,000 people who are experiencing homelessness, over 200,000 people waiting for social housing and all who experience exclusion and poverty in prosperous Australia: the low paid; the unpaid; the underemployed; and the unemployed.
“But this Budget does dull this nation’s vision of itself for it will force people to rely on charity when it is a future built on fairness that we long for,” Dr Falzon said.