Budget under-invests in vulnerable people
This year’s Budget seeks to repair some of the political damage from last year.
“Worthwhile measures include investing in vulnerable children, continued commitment to the NDIS, tightening means testing for the age pension, and the groundwork for further aged care reform,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia.
“We also welcome the commitment to an investment approach to welfare, drawing on insights from New Zealand.
“However, we continue to see poorly-targeted Government handouts and not enough substantial investment in the people and areas that require the most support,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds.
“The Government needs to decide whether or not it is serious about clamping down on middle class welfare.”
“Pension eligibility rules are rightly being tightened. Additional support for childcare is welcome, particularly for vulnerable children. However, the targeting of this measure is undermined by the funding of fifty percent of childcare costs for wealthy families. This is a much bigger handout than suggested by the Productivity Commission in their review.
“The poorest Australians continue to live on inadequate payments with single Newstart recipients living on just $260 a week. This is less than the amount an aged pensioner with a $1.5 million home and $300,000 in assets will continue to receive from the Government.
“A family on $160,000 per year with one child in child care will be able to access up to about $570 per week in childcare subsidies. This is more than twice the payment a single person on Newstart receives to live on.
“If we cannot afford to provide an adequate payment to Newstart recipients who will be actively looking for the work, and in some cases, working for the dole, we should not be subsidising the childcare of families who earn over $160,000 per year.
“The lack of attention to investing in disadvantaged people, and to exploring more substantial social and fiscal reform is a missed opportunity with significant consequences for the 1 million Australians who live in chronic, entrenched disadvantage.
“Funds that support vulnerable people provide a great return on investment. Providing support helps people reach their potential, and yields savings down the track as we prevent social problems from escalating. It also enhances the quality of our collective life, making Australia a better place to live,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds.
“It is disappointing that the Budget ignores the opportunity to tackle overdue taxation and superannuation reform. Australia deserves better. We need a wide and deep conversation about the reforms required to advance Australia’s resilience and productivity, and ensure a decent life for all.”