Note: Since this Media Release was issued, it has been brought to our attention that the Society was approached in one state to speak at the Summit. However, this was not referred to the Society’s National Council, which advocates on federal policy matters. As acknowledged by the Society’s National President, last year’s summit was a valuable forum, and we wish the Australia Institute every success with this year’s event. The Society considers these public events to be important opportunities to debate what should be done to address growing inequity in Australia and we value the important contribution made by the Australia Institute to the public discourse.
The Australia Institute’s Revenue Summit 23 is a welcome contribution to the nation’s tax debate but could benefit from a closer involvement by the charity and civil society sectors, according to the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia.
The focus of the Summit, scheduled to be held in Canberra on 27 October 2023, will be on revenue generation for government, specifically a better taxation system. However, there seems to be a lesser emphasis on how money saved through tax reform could boost expenditure on social welfare payments such as JobSeeker and other programs for Australians in desperate need.
‘Any high-level consideration of revenue equity is most welcome,’ said St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Mark Gaetani, ‘and most of the participants at the Summit are eminently qualified academics, parliamentarians and union leaders.
‘However, it is a pity that the not-for-profit sector is so under-represented because a key reason for boosting government revenue is to help lift more people out of poverty. This was analysed in detail by the recent study, A Fairer Tax and Welfare System for Australia, produced for the Society by the Australian National University.
‘This report shows how the lives of up to 834,000 people on income support payments could be significantly improved by reform options relating to welfare improvements funded by changes to the tax and superannuation regimes.
‘We sincerely hope that the findings and recommendations in this valuable study will help inform Revenue Summit 23, as this work was undertaken by a highly regarded team at ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods.
‘The Society’s position is that taxation, and, as the Australia Institute says, “the best way to collect it”, should not be aimed just at improving the budgetary bottom-line but at benefiting those Australians who are most in need.
‘As highlighted during this Anti-Poverty Week (15-27 October), a very large number of Australians are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with 3.3 million people living below the poverty line. This number includes 761,000 children, whose circumstances impact on their physical and emotional health, educational status and whole of life prospects.
‘Any consideration of the Government’s ability to more efficiently and equitably tax wage earners and businesses must be linked to how increased revenue can be used to create a fairer Australia. This lies at the heart of the Society’s philosophy and accords with the Catholic social teaching principles that guide us.’
Mr Gaetani noted that the Society had attended last year’s Revenue Summit and found it a valuable forum for exchanging ideas about the nation’s future. He hoped this year’s event would be a productive one whose focus includes discussions about how best to improve the lives of struggling Australians.
The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.
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