St Vincent de Paul Society Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, has sharply criticised the failure of the 2012 Budget to deliver relief for people who are outside the labour market. He said:
“Tonight’s Budget confirms one thing that both sides of politics agree on. And that’s their belief in the existence of an undeserving poor. Their message is that if you’re poor it’s because you’re just not trying hard enough. So the unemployed are left below the poverty line. Newstart has not received its much-needed boost of $50 a week. And a $700 million chunk of the surplus has been skimmed from the pockets of sole parents and their children.
“You don’t build people up by putting them down. You don’t help them get work by forcing them into poverty.
“There’s nothing wrong with bringing home the bacon for middle Australia. But the people living at the rough end of Struggle Street are trying to get by on baked beans.
“The young unemployed bloke scraping by on $35 a day and we wonder why we he doesn’t get a haircut before going for a job interview, or the single mum who has just been forced down to $38 a day on Newstart. They remain unheard.
“The middle-aged mum or dad on low wages or no wages as they battle to re-enter a workforce from which they have been dumped like so much human garbage. They remain unheard.”
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Mr Anthony Thornton, added:
“A good Budget should at least be a step in the direction of putting a charity like ours out of business. Sadly, this is not the case tonight. We will always be there to give our fellow Australians a bit of a hand-up. But people don’t want charity. They want dignity whether they are in the low end of the labour market or outside the labour market door, trying to get in. At a time when they increasingly have to turn to charity, it is not charity they long for. It is justice.”
Dr Falzon welcomed Government initiatives such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and other measures that would help reduce inequality but was scathing of the Government’s treatment of the people who continue to be left out. He said: “The forgotten and excluded have not been heard. They’ve been answered, not with hope, but with a bucket-full of austerity.”