ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Federal Budget 2018/19

8 May 2018

Federal Budget has ducked the long term challenge of inequality

The ACT Council of Social Service has joined the Australian Council of Social Service in saying the 2018-19 Federal Budget had ducked the long term challenge of creating a revenue stream capable of reversing inequality, addressing unmet service needs and providing pathways out of deep poverty.

Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, has said that, “A successful society is one that shares responsibility for social and economic wellbeing. That means everyone contributing through a progressive tax system and everyone being able to access vital services that are well administered, competently delivered, able to meet demand and sustainably funded. It also means securing a sustainable revenue stream to the Federal Government so that responsibilities aren’t pushed back to State and Territory governments without a capacity to resource these responsibilities.

“Our country can’t deal with growing inequality by flattening the tax system, making income support less adequate, funding emerging needs by diverting funds from existing services and cutting funding to essential institutions that defend people’s rights and entitlements such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“Newstart has not increased in real terms for 24 years. The last time Newstart, Youth Allowance and other allowance payments were increased, petrol was 66c per litre and a loaf of bread cost $1.67. There were almost no mobile phones or data costs. People did not need to have internet access services, apply for a job or fulfil their mutual obligations to Centrelink. The single rate of Newstart is $278/week which is $175/week less than the pension. The base rate of Youth Allowance is $225.25/week.

ACTCOSS has restated its opposition to continuing and escalating the flawed Centrelink debt recovery program, rejected the proposed approach to recouping outstanding fines and expressed concern about changes to obligations under employment support programs.

Some budget announcements were welcomed by ACTCOSS, including increased access to home care packages for older people and work on elder abuse, mental health care funding increases, medical services, research, devices and pharmaceutical benefits, science and research, veterans affairs, domestic violence response programs, early learning programs, school-based emotional wellbeing programs, regional tertiary education support, funding to the environment and to transport infrastructure.

Susan Helyar concluded: “As the budget deficit reduces, we have a growing deficit in compassion and support for people left behind through economic change.”

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987