The Australian Council of Social Service, the peak body for the community sector, has released its submission to the Federal Budget, outlining plans it argued could create hundreds of thousands of jobs by investing in the solutions to Australia’s most pressing challenges.

The Budget Submission was informed by consultation across the community sector.

ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“Now is the time for the Morrison Government to invest in our recovery in order to make the most of the good work it did in protecting the community and stimulating the economy in its initial response to the crisis last year. We cannot stall now and risk the country slipping backwards. By embracing investment ideas that solve our most pressing challenges we can create a much healthier Australia, generating good jobs and emerging a more caring and confident country.”

“We need to tackle the big challenges – our public health response, record unemployment, the extreme weather of climate change, the social housing shortfall and under-resourcing in aged care and other essential services.”

“Currently, we have double the amount of people trying to get by on unemployment payments than we did before this crisis – they are looking to the Morrison Government to ensure they can cover the basics and to generate jobs.”

“It’s crucial that job creation plans are coupled with a permanent and adequate increase to the JobSeeker payment – we cannot leave people behind to struggle in the poverty trap as we get through this crisis. We need to work together as a community, as we have demonstrated we can do in dealing with successive outbreaks.”

“One of the most widely supported ideas we’re putting forward is the construction 20,000 to 30,000 social housing homes that meet accessibility and energy efficiency standards. It would generate more than 15,000 jobs a year and deal with our dire national shortage of social housing. The social housing shortfall came into stark focus during the crisis, when governments rushed to find emergency, short-term housing for people sleeping rough – many of these people now have nowhere to go.”

“We’re also calling for a national program to improve energy efficiency in low-income homes. It would cut energy bills for those struggling to pay them, lower emissions and create tens of thousands of jobs – a win, win, win on the social, environmental and jobs fronts.”

“The crisis also shone a light on the deep need for greater staffing in aged care and other community services. We have an opportunity to finally fix the gaps in these essential services of the care sector, while creating tens of thousands of jobs to give more people an opportunity to control their own futures.”

“Our sector has been on the front line of supporting people through the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, as well as the bushfires that have devastated regional communities. We’ve set out plans to create local hubs to build resilience to extreme weather events. By putting in place practical projects that make sense on the ground, we can sure up regional communities in the face of more extreme weather events in the future.”

“If we continue to work together, as we did to get through the initial crisis, we can achieve a healthier, brighter future for the country that does not leave people behind in the poverty trap,” Dr Goldie said.

ACOSS’ budget proposals related to tax and transfer policy include:

  • Permanently increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other allowance payments to pension levels and properly index them, to protect the 1.4 million people on those payments from poverty;
  • Extend and improve supplementary payments for additional living costs including private rents, and the costs of sole parenthood and disability;
  • Remove unwarranted barriers to income support including cashless welfare cards, the liquid assets waiting period, excessive waiting periods for new migrants, and automated suspensions of unemployment payments;
  • Do not proceed with $17 billion per annum in tax cuts for people with high incomes;
  • Extend the 15% tax rate on super fund investment income to post retirement accounts to fund a guarantee of high-quality aged care services for all;
  • Reduce tax breaks for capital gains and remove the tax advantages of negative gearing strategies;
  • Curb personal income tax avoidance through private trusts and companies;
  • Curb tax avoidance by multinational companies;
  • Phase out diesel fuel subsidies for off-road use (except agriculture) and divert expenditure into climate change transition and resilience strengthening measures

Read the ACOSS Budget Submission


Comments are closed.