The Government aims to restore the Federal Budget to surplus in 2012-13. ACOSS and other advocates for people facing poverty and social disadvantage aim to repair gaping holes in our social safety net.
Higher social security payments and better employment services are needed to lift unemployed people and sole parents out of poverty; a National Disability Insurance Scheme is needed so that people with disabilities can participate in community life; and people on low incomes need affordable dental care.
How can these goals be reconciled? The answer is by cutting waste and poorly targeted programs from both the expenditure and revenue sides of the Budget: waste not, want not!
Action can be taken in this Budget to meet the most pressing social needs while at the same time restoring the Budget to surplus. A Budget surplus in 2012-13 is not a desirable goal in itself, but it does present the opportunity for Government to focus on measures to improve fairness. Now that the economy is recovering from the Global Financial Crisis, this is the right time to start saving to meet future needs - including to protect the most vulnerable in any future economic downturn and to meet the costs of health and care services for an ageing population1. The alternative is a future where users have to pay for essential health and community services because Governments lack the ability to do so.