Today’s increase in official interest rates—the 10th in a row—will punish Australia’s most vulnerable the hardest and push them further into disadvantage and despair as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.
‘Successive blows with the blunt instrument of interest rates have inflicted serious pain on many Australians,’ National President Mark Gaetani said.
‘Today’s blow from the Reserve Bank of Australia will force many Australians to their knees just as they need a hand up.
‘Australians are struggling – spiralling inflation has taken life’s essentials out of reach, housing is unaffordable, unemployment is rising, real wages are plummeting, and savings are at very low levels.
‘Low-income households are in acute pain, with discretionary cashflow for the bottom 20 per cent of income earners falling 24 per cent in 2023.
‘The Society, like many charities, is witnessing unprecedented demand for support as more Australians struggle to survive the cost-of-living crisis,’ Mr Gaetani said.
The Society calls on the Reserve Bank of Australia to halt further interest rate increases.
‘With inflation starting to trend lower, the RBA must stop inflicting pain on Australia’s most vulnerable people and halt further interest rate rises until the full impact of 10 consecutive increases can be property assessed,’ Mr Gaetani said.
The Society is urging the Albanese Government to provide immediate cost-of-living relief for Australians in the upcoming budget.
‘The Society calls on the Albanese Government to increase JobSeeker and other income support payments in the upcoming Federal Budget,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘JobSeeker traps recipients in poverty and cycles of ever-increasing despair,’ Mr Gaetani said.
The Society believes that a fair Australia is one in which everyone can live with dignity. Income support payments were designed to provide a safety net to allow Australians to live with dignity and to contribute to their families and the community.
‘Today, Australia’s social safety net is in tatters,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘More and more Australians on income support payments are living in poverty and despair, with lifelong consequences for children,’ Mr Gaetani said.
The Society has urged the Government to adopt a range of simple, affordable changes to the tax and super system to free up funding to fix Australia’s broken income support system and housing crisis.
A Fairer Tax and Welfare System in Australia, commissioned by the Society, models three different options that would lift up to one million people out of poverty. All three options require the Stage 3 tax cuts to be discontinued.
‘These funds would be better spent supporting people out of poverty,’ Mr Gaetani said.
‘Poverty in Australia is a policy choice.
‘Australia can afford a safety net and a secure home for those in need – we urge the Albanese Government to drop the Stage 3 tax cuts and to work with the Society and other welfare organisations towards a fairer and more equal Australia,’ Mr Gaetani said.