This Federal Budget will be brought down in an election year, where it seems the main aim from Government will be a surplus. ACOSS has long supported efforts to responsibly return to surplus through good policy decisions, protecting people who have the least from spending cuts, and instead cutting back wasteful spending at the higher end, and tax breaks that are either unnecessary or leading to bad outcomes. We urge the Government to follow this path.
Now is not the time for more savage cuts to social security or essential services hitting people who are the most vulnerable. Now is also not the time for more tax cuts nor for pre-Election handouts to
people who do not need financial help.
Australia continues to have a revenue challenge, and we cannot afford to further undermine the ability of future governments to meet both the urgent and future needs of the community as a whole. We need now to focus on essential expenditures that are long overdue to tackle poverty and disadvantage.
We need a Federal Budget which captures a clear vision and plan to reduce the most severe poverty, close the worst gaps in essential services, and guarantee affordable access to essential health and aged care services for an ageing population. At the same time, we need to restore the budget to make room for strong and timely intervention to ease the impact of a future economic downturn.
Even if a surplus is achieved, the Federal Budget position is unbalanced and unsustainable. Over $20 billion a year in annual tax cuts for high-income earners (the top 20% of taxpayers earning $90,000 or more) have already been handed out, to commence in 2023, regardless of the state of the economy in the meantime. At the same time, there are long-standing deficits in the resourcing of social security payments for those in the deepest poverty – especially people receiving unemployment payments and low-income families – and essential services such as social housing, dental health, aged care, First Nations, and community services, and domestic violence programs.
This submission proposes a rebalancing of the budget in favour of neglected services and people facing financial hardship and disadvantage, and away from wasteful schemes we cannot afford to continue such as the rebate for private health insurance and tax concessions for retirees who are already living comfortably.
SOURCE: ACOSS. “Budget Priorities Statement Federal Budget 2019-20.” ACOSS, February 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia