Government delivers on climate and fairness
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds has welcomed the release of the climate package and congratulated the Government and Multi Party Climate Change Committee members.
Commenting shortly after the release of the details, Ms Hatfield Dodds said the announcement delivered a balanced and effective climate package that also boosted fairness.
“The package contains key initiatives required to address global warming, help shift Australia to a low carbon future, and support Australians who need it most,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“Putting a price on carbon pollution, investing in the development of a strong, clean energy sector and promoting energy efficiency will encourage industry and consumers to reduce carbon pollution and to shift to cleaner energy sources.
“Critically, from our perspective, the Government has ensured that low-income Australians will not be left behind.
“The package permanently increases allowances, pensions and family benefits to more than cover the average cost of living impact. Initial upfront payments, followed by fortnightly payments, will greatly assist households on tight budgets to manage cost of living increases.
“Payments to most households will be provided as an upfront lump sum before the carbon price takes effect. Fortnightly payments will begin in March 2013 for pensions and most allowances, July 2013 for family payments and January 2014 for student on Youth Allowance. These payments will increase with indexation.
“There is an additional historic shift. The package uses revenue raised from an undesirable activity, carbon pollution, to fund fundamental policy reform.
“The climate package delivers a more progressive taxation system. It promotes fairness and removes barriers to employment by reducing poverty traps and excessive effective marginal tax rates (EMTRs) for low income earners.
“Income tax paid by low income Australians will be reduced and the tax system simplified. The package triples the tax free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200 per year from July 2012 and reduces the Low Income Tax Offset (LITO).
As a result Australians moving from welfare to work will no longer have to wait a year or more for their tax refund, and instead will receive that money in every pay packet.
“This is a significant first step towards the income tax reforms recommended in the Henry Review.
“UnitingCare Australia welcomes the Government’s commitment to ensure that providers of social services will receive a fair share of assistance. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure that the capacity of NGOs to deliver social services to disadvantaged and low income Australians is not compromised.”
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over two million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. UnitingCare has 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers.