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Catholic Welfare joins tax cuts call

Catholic Welfare Australia yesterday called on the Government to address high effective marginal tax rates for the poor, adding its voice to that of high profile Coalition back-bench MP Malcolm Turnball, who urged across the board tax cuts to counter tax evasion among the wealthy.

The call was in response to the release of the report Working for Australia's future: Increasing Participation in the Workforce.

Catholic Welfare also urged a nationally-coordinated strategy to increase workforce participation, including agreed national definitions for employment and workforce participation and better integration across existing employment programs.

The Report was released yesterday by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation.

Catholic Welfare's executive director Frank Quinlan said: "Whilst we do not agree with all the recommendations, there is much in this report that will improve the lot of our most disadvantaged job seekers."

He pointed out that while the unemployment rate has reached a low 5.1%, there are still many Australians who are not counted according to the current definitions of unemployment. He said that, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are around one in eight Australians underemployed, and another 789,900 people who want to work but who have given up.

"Implementation of Recommendation (5) will address these deficiencies in current definitions," he suggested.

Mr Quinlan added that a review and overhaul of the taxation system is long overdue.

"We welcome the Committee's Recommendation (4) suggesting a review of the tax free threshold, effective marginal tax rates and income test stacking with a view to maximising incentives from income support to increased participation in the workforce," he said.

"Catholic Welfare Australia also welcomes the Committee's Recommendations (6, 7 & 8) exploring potential improvements to increasing workforce participation by better integrating programs from a range of portfolios. National coordination of employment strategies, tying together projects between Commonwealth, State/Territory, Local Governments and other business, union and community organisations, is also long overdue," said Mr Quinlan.

"We remain concerned that more jobs must be created if workforce participation is to be increased significantly. The required job growth cannot be achieved at the cost of lower wages and increased casual and part-time work for low paid workers in particular," he concluded.

Meanwhile Malcolm Turnbull's call for a crackdown on tax minimisation schemes used by the wealthy received enthusiastic endorsement from some welfare groups.

The president of the Australian Council of Social Service, Andrew McCallum, said: "Malcolm Turnbull is quite right to point out that there hasn't been a lot of will or vigour in trying to crack down on the legal tax-minimisation schemes at the top end: family trusts, company cars, superannuation and negative gearing."

Government urged to Review Committee Report (Catholic Welfare Australia 14/3/05)
Level top tax rates: Turnbull (Sydney Morning Herald 15/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Welfare Australia
Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Workforce Participation | Employment: increasing participation in paid work (report tabled 14/3/05)

Vinnies brands tax system 'Robin Hood in reverse' (CathNews 14/2/05)
Catholic Welfare says ALP Tax Policy "goes some way" towards poverty fix (CathNews 8/9/04)

15 Mar 2005