Budget should be statement of values: Vinnies chief

Tonight's federal budget should be a statement of values for Australia, according to St Vincent de Paul Society chief Dr John Falzon, who says the budget should also alleviate housing stress and ensure that climate change costs are shared equitably.

In a statement, Dr Falzon says that Australia faces "huge challenges" and that while it is an election year, "the forthcoming budget offers a watershed opportunity for the Government to address market failures and structural disadvantages in Australia".

"The budget should be a statement of values for Australia," Dr Falzon said.

"The St Vincent de Paul Society calls for Budget 07-08 to provide a fair go for all Australians, and in particular, provide clear policy directions with regard to low-cost housing, climate change, intergenerational poverty and a National Anti-poverty Plan," he continued.

According to Dr Falzon, Vinnies volunteers are reporting that high numbers of private renters are suffering from "unaffordable increases".

Some Australians are going without food, Dr Falzon claims, "so as to provide shelter for their families".

"We expect Budget 07-08 to provide significant funds to alleviate housing stress in the low end of the private rental market," he said.

Dr Falzon also highlighted the climate change issue calling on the Federal Government to produce a "strategic policy response to the overall issue of climate change, rather than relying on pricing alone to solve this complex social problem".

"Any response to climate change must be equitable, with those least able to carry the cost burden sheltered from the otherwise inevitably skewed outcome of market processes," he said.

On the issue of intergenerational poverty, Dr Falzon said that longer term preventative and early intervention programs are required to break the cycle.

"A future healthy economy requires that intergeneration poverty be eliminated. In the UK, Treasury set key targets for the eradication of childhood poverty by 2020. We call on the Government to announce in Budget 07 -08 targets to eradicate childhood poverty in Australia."

"While our country, and consequently government, enjoys prosperity on the back of a resources boom, it is for our government to ensure that the most vulnerable and voiceless members of our society are provided a fair share.

"Budget 07- 08 must fund a national anti-poverty strategy to coordinate all elements of government policy initiatives, and to coordinate expenditures by various sectors to build a more inclusive Australia in the future," Dr Falzon concluded.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello will reveal the new spending in his 12th Budget tonight.

Vinnies (Media Release, 6/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Federal Budget website

Welfare agency lists priorities for 2007 budget (CathNews, 11/12/06)
Vinnies says "no" to Govt money (CathNews, 6/4/06)
Vinnies rejects welfare reforms (CathNews 22/11/05)
Vinnies' Budget plea to Costello to think of poor (CathNews, 11/5/04)

8 May 2007