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Catholic Welfare says Budget victimises Australia's working poor

Catholic Welfare Australia is disappointed that the Federal Government's obsessive focus on a Budget surplus ignores the plight of suffering Australians.

In a statement released last night, the peak body for Australia's Catholic welfare agencies said it confirms the Howard Government's move to a user pays system that decreases access to basic services for people on low and even middle-incomes.

"We live in a nation in which one in five children are fully reliant on income support," said the Spokesperson for Catholic Welfare Australia, Fr Joe Caddy. "This is a crisis and this ought to have been the focus in the Budget."

"The 'working poor' will also be hit by greater costs for access to higher education and medical services which shall far outweigh the minor tax cuts," he said.

"In this his eighth Federal Budget, Treasurer Costello will boast his achievement in attaining a successive string of budget surpluses - but at what cost to the community?" said Fr Joe Caddy.

Meanwhile Fr Peter Norden of Jesuit Social Services said tax cuts of $5 per week for low income families "will wear very thin after the extra costs of health and education services announced in this budget".

"Increases in university fees of up to 30% will make access to some professional courses out of reach for more Australian students".

"But what will reinforce the social divide in this country is the failure of the government to increase support for TAFE courses, giving access to education and training for those at risk of marginalisation".

"Access to education and good health services will be more limited, and it is those who can afford to pay who will benefit in coming years."

Catholic Welfare Australia/Jesuit Social Services

Catholic Welfare Australia
Jesuit Social Services
Treasurer's Website
Needy miss out: welfare groups (The Australian)

14 May 2003