The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has issued a timely reminder to members of the Senate Inquiry into the National Commission of Audit before its third public hearing held on February 18, 2014, that cuts to social expenditure will disproportionately hurt the poor.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said:“Everyone has the right to a place to live, a place to learn and a place to work. Government’s job is to strengthen these rights, not rip them up in a frenzy of cuts to the poor in order to protect the unaffordable tax concessions enjoyed by the rich.”
Referring to the cuts mooted in the Abbott government’s first budget, Dr Falzon added: “Let us be clear. We need a social security system that helps people into jobs where possible without ever forcing them to live in poverty. We need to recognise that unemployment on the whole is a structural reality and not a personal choice. People are not helped when they are blamed. No government can watch jobs being lost and then put the boot into the unemployed.”
St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia, National President Anthony Thornton said it was a question of what kind of society Australia wanted to create for itself in five, 10 and 20 years from now. “Is it a society where we can afford tax cuts for those earning higher incomes whilst reducing the meagre payments of those living on unemployment and disability benefits?” Mr Thornton asked. “Do we really want an Australia in which more and more people need to rely on charity as the default mode of social security?”
Mr Thornton particularly expressed concern over the problem of youth unemployment: “We won’t, as a nation, engage young people in education, training and employment if we focus on cuts. We need to invest in the young people of today to ensure that their talents are not wasted. This is good for our economy and good for young people who are currently missing out. It’s pointless to sit back and blame them if we don’t lift a finger to provide them with education, training and employment opportunities.”
The St Vincent de Paul Society’s 2014-2015 Pre-Budget Submission and its Submission to the Select Committee into the Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit are available to download here.