Word budget written with people standing in background

ACOSS has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to invest in health, education and housing in the 2017–18 Budget, but has strongly criticised the government for a mindset that it says demonises and impoverishes people who are unemployed and otherwise disadvantaged. ACOSS was also critical of housing-related superannuation tax measures.

“The government is trying to put the 2014 horror budget behind it, securing the National Disability Insurance Scheme and putting housing affordability on the agenda but the government still neglects, blames and targets the most disadvantaged in the social security system”, said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“The government’s significant change of tack on Medicare and schools funding is welcome, recognising that people value essential services. But securing funds for essential services like Medicare while restoring the budget is not just an accounting exercise: it will require major reform to make sure that every individual and businesses pays tax according to their ability to do so.”

ACOSS welcomed measures in the Budget to encourage private investment in affordable housing and funding for homelessness services, but was critical of the decision to extend superannuation tax breaks to first time home buyers and people downsizing, noting the potential of these changes to increase house prices and waste public revenue.

"In social security, the government remains stuck in the 2014 budget mindset that demonises and impoverishes people who are unemployed," said Dr Goldie. "Access to their payments is restricted by the continuation of income management and extension of the ‘cashless debit card’. The wasteful Work for the Dole scheme continues, and the government is having another go at cutting the Pensioner Education Supplement.

“It speaks volumes for the government’s approach to social security that unemployed people are denied the one-off $75 Energy Supplement and it proposes to drug-test recipients and deny the Disability Support Pension to people if their disability is drug-related. New waiting periods are proposed for Age Pensions for people who are migrants and have had to rely on income support during working life.

“It’s time the government invested in jobs and unemployed people instead of penalising people for poverty."

Related items:
Budget 2017–18 Documents
Budget analysis articles from The Conversation

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