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Vinnies sees tax cuts as WMDs for society

St Vincent de Paul has described the tax cuts tipped for next month's election year Federal Budget as "nothing short of WMDs - weapons of mass destruction for society".

Vinnies, which assists around one million Australians in need each year, carries out intensive research into the causes of poverty and suggests solutions to alleviate it. The Society is campaigning for a national strategy to combat poverty, similar to the European models.

Its spokesperson on social justice, Terry McCarthy, said millions of Australians already in dire straits were now facing a further decline in essential government services.

"Our government services are already in steep decline. Will Budget tax cuts preclude essential expenditure and decimate these services even further?

"Tax cuts may please many people as governments offer them to catch votes, but look at the human cost, particularly for low and middle income Australians. They have no choice but to rely on the Government for the essential services needed to survive, and as they continue to suffer so too will Australia's long-term prosperity.

"Tax cuts are indeed social WMDs, because they destroy the prospect of a fair society."

Mr McCarthy challenged Federal politicians facing the new century not to use these "weapons" which could see Australia plummet into 19th century social despair.

He said the recent Senate Inquiry into Poverty was the most far-reaching of its kind ever held in Australia. There was comprehensive evidence from witnesses and organisations in every State. "Across the nation, we heard the same message," Mr McCarthy said. "People struggling to survive on low incomes told the Senators that it is not just money that matters.

Meanwhile Vinnies spokesperson Gavin Dufty criticised Telstra's price increases for telephone line rental, which is regarded as an essential service.

"These charges are a direct gouge and they are picking the pockets of average Australians," he told the Herald-Sun following yesterday's announcement.

Most Australians will pay 13% more for their monthly phone rental from 1 June, plus a surcharge for using credit cards to pay their bills. The rise is the fifth in 3 1/2 years.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Target
Double hit to phone users (Herald-Sun 30/4/04)

Charities warns of emergence of permanent underclass (CathNews 6/4/04)
St Vincent de Paul Society

30 Apr 2004