Letter to the editor

May 13, 2017

A budget blindspot?

Frank Purcell
North East Central Council
St Vincent de Paul Society

St Vincent de Paul Society fears an avalanche of calls on its services as a result of the Federal budget.

Corporate tax cuts will be funded by penalty rate cuts for mostly part-time workers. The highest income earners are to receive an effective tax cut of 1.5 per cent compared to all other taxpayers who will be paying an extra 0.5 per cent. There will also be further cuts to social services, making it a cut of $15billion since 2014.

It is the low-income people who are being forced to pay off the debt.

There is only one job for every 10 people looking for work or more work. One in three young people are unemployed or underemployed. Yet these people are being asked to live on a Newstart payment that has not seen an increase in real terms since 1994.

The St Vincent de Paul Society, funded by our Vinnies shops and donations, receives no government funding. We have 34 branches, in nearly every town, with 1000 people in the north-east. None of our conference (branch) members are paid. All are volunteers who have seen calls on our service increase dramatically in recent months.

Last financial year we spent $1.2million in helping families with food, rent and utility bills in the north-east. This year, as agencies dependent on government funding have had their allocations cut, calls to us for help have increased dramatically and we expect to spend close to $2million. We will do that as long as we can, but we are not a taxpayer-funded service. I’m sure people will understand, but it will be painful for many.

Paying off the debt by cutting government support for the most needy in our communities is a return to the 19th century workhouse treatment for the most disadvantaged people in our community.

Our grandparents built an Australia which gave work, housing, education and health services which were the envy of most of the world.

We must not let greed destroy one of our key cultural values.

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