In responding to the release of the Federal Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, ACOSS said the improved outlook for the Australian economy has been overshadowed by further cruel cuts to vital social security payments for some of the most disadvantaged groups in our community.

ACOSS Director of Policy and Advocacy, Edwina MacDonald, said “The improved outlook provides the government with the perfect opportunity to strengthen our social safety net. Instead, at a time when we should be raising payments for people with the least, we are seeing further cuts to social security.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the government has decided once again to target the social security payments of the most vulnerable with a further $1.8 billion dollars in cuts. This is on top of $1.3b of cuts already before the parliament, and around $12b in the past five years.

“It is cruel to make newly arrived migrants wait three years to access benefits, including Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental leave and Carers’ Allowance. This will create an underclass of migrants – new arrivals who find themselves at even more risk financially as they try to settle into Australia.

“We know that migrants have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to our society. This will hurt people who lose their job, people who need to care for a child with disability, or a family member with a terminal illness. It will disproportionately affect women and see more children live in poverty. This will drive more people to our charities for meeting the essentials of life, such as food and shelter.

“The government is extending the freeze to Family Tax Benefit supplements and income thresholds, which means families will have to cover higher living costs with less. FTB supplements have been frozen since 2010.

“The government’s stubborn refusal to take drug testing off the table runs counter to all expert advice from health and addiction professionals and bodies, as well as the Parliament.

“We welcome the cessation of the punitive and ineffective School Enrolment and Attendance Measure. The small investment in programs to help retrenched workers is a good step, but falls short of what is needed to address the larger problem of long-term unemployment.

“We agree that investment in essential services must be guaranteed.

“However, the Treasurer has used MYEFO to reassert his government’s case for business tax cuts in 2018. ACOSS has consistently argued that the priority of the Federal Parliament must be securing the public revenue we need to fund essential services like the NDIS, healthcare, education, social housing and social security payments.

“It is unjustifiable to slash the incomes of people with the least to pave the way for election year tax cuts.”

(Source: ACOSS)

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