A Fairer Tax and Welfare System for Australia

Authors: Ben Phillips and Richard Webster (ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods)

This research paper was commissioned by the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia Inc. as an initiative to help address the growing gap between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots’ in Australia. The paper proposes three simple policy proposals designed to improve the financial position of Australians most in need.

The groups at most risk of deep poverty and financial stress are identified as persons receiving JobSeeker payments and working age pensions, defined in this paper as including Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payments (Single) and Carer Payments. Other groups also linked to poverty and financial stress are renters, single parents and young persons. Additional spending is targeted to these groups to maximise reductions in poverty and financial stress and we estimate would lower poverty by up to a million people or 470,000 households.

The proposed policy changes add to the equity of the existing welfare system, providing extra assistance to those who are most likely to be in deep poverty and financial stress. Increases are proposed to JobSeeker, Parenting Payment (Single), Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment along with increases to low-income renters through increased Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). The most generous policy proposal includes an increase to Family Tax Benefits.

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