The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has described the 2016-17 Federal Budget, as a “missed opportunity” to alleviate poverty and disadvantage at home and around the world.
“There is not nearly enough in this Budget to assist the most vulnerable,” said Mr McMillan.
“It is deeply disappointing that planned cuts to foreign aid are going ahead, leaving some of the world’s poorest people without the life-changing – often life-saving – assistance that comes with Australian aid.
“The Budget also contains no new social programs aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who are the most persistently disadvantaged Australians.
“Instead the Government is foregoing revenue through a long term commitment to cutting company tax rates to 25% and tax concessions for half a million middle income earners.
“I’m afraid that the 2016-17 Federal Budget falls short of what I had hoped for in terms of support for the most in need,” said Mr McMillan.
The Budget outlines a number of measures that will be closely looked at by the UnitingCare network, including changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) that will mean $1.2 billion over the next four years as the rollout of consumer-driven care continues.
Mr McMillan welcomed a number of specific measures.
“Funding for a sustainable National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), greater tax compliance and countermeasures aimed at multinational and corporate tax avoiders, and winding back overgenerous superannuation tax concessions are all positive initiatives.”
“Measures to address youth unemployment are also welcome, but need to be closely monitored to guard against abuses.”
“While the overall foreign aid funding situation is regrettable I’d single out for praise extra funding for humanitarian assistance in Syria and neighbouring programs and for community support programs for newly arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees,” said Mr McMillan.
The National Director of UnitingWorld Rob Floyd said Australian aid had fallen to a record low level as a share of national income.
“This is the lowest level we have ever given as a nation.”
“As we near the Federal Election, we call on all major parties to reaffirm their commitment to Australia’s aid and development efforts,” said Mr Floyd.