Submission to the Select Committee into the Abbott Government's Budget Cuts

Executive Summary

Every Australian has a right to a place to live, and place to learn, and a place to work, and the government has a concomitant duty to provide an adequate level of social services, and income support payments, to fulfil these rights. Our current spending on social services and payments is sustainable.

As the Society has consistently argued, this Budget risks violating the government’s duty to provide this basic level of services and support to its citizens. We are deeply concerned about the scrapping of many excellent programs such as Youth Connections, which have a proven record of helping the most disadvantaged to overcome structural barriers. We have expressed our fear that deeps cuts to payments received by young people, and Australians living with a disability, will see them unable to afford the basics of life. Some of these cuts are so severe that they can only lead to an increase in homelessness, and a far deeper exclusion from the labour market. Changing the indexation of pensions will also see older Australians suffer. These sorts of cuts are not only deeply damaging to millions of us today, but will end up costing the Budget more in the long-term, as social cohesion declines, and we must spend more on healthcare, emergency housing, and the criminal justice system.

We fail to understand why the Budget, in seeking to cut expenses and raise revenue, has targeted those at the bottom. There are a very wide range of other measures that could be taken to increase revenue, without violating the human rights of Australia’s most disadvantaged.