The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia fears cutbacks flagged by the Government prior to the Budget will unfairly target the poor and has urged Treasurer Joe Hockey to find appropriate savings to reinvest in essential social expenditure such as social housing.

Chief Executive Dr John Falzon said: 

“What worries us is the perpetuation of the myth that people living in poverty or asylum seekers fleeing their homelands are to blame for their own situation. This position is ideological and it flies in the face of everything we see. We see people desperate to make ends meet, people who are locked out of both the labour market and the housing market, often without even a place they can call home. We see a housing market that is notoriously bad at providing affordable housing for low income families and individuals.

“The St Vincent de Paul Society refuses to accept the dystopian vision of an Australia in which people experiencing poverty are made to shoulder the burden of expenditure cuts while the people who have the least need for assistance enjoy overly generous tax concessions,” Dr Falzon said.

National President, Mr Anthony Thornton, asked the people of Australia to ask what kind of society we want: “We have one of the lowest tax rates in the OECD. How can we not provide an urgent increase to an unemployment benefit that hasn’t been raised in real terms since 1994 despite the massive increases in the cost of living?”

“We are not a mean-spirited people and yet by making severe cutbacks in the upcoming Budget our Government will hurt the very people it is sworn to protect,” Mr Thornton said.

“We have seen other countries go down the path of austerity. The simple consequence is greater marginalisation. It is the homelessness and poverty statistics that we must cut, not the spending on these important areas.

“Greater investment in social expenditure, that is spending on unemployment benefits, housing and education makes economic sense because it is an investment in people and communities, building them up rather than tearing them down and demonising them,” Mr Thornton said.