Increases to income support need to be fair for all
11 September 2008
The Brotherhood of St Laurence said today that it was important that increases to income support were fair and delivered across the board.
“While we understand that it is urgent that aged pensioners get assistance – there are a whole range of very disadvantaged people who are looking to the pensions review for relief,” the Brotherhood’s Executive Director, Tony Nicholson, said today.
“People on carer’s pensions and disability pensions are also looking for this review to provide them with additional assistance,” Mr Nicholson said.
“Sole parents, for example, are some of the most disadvantaged people in the community and there are children growing up in sole parent households who are in dire need.
“The neediest in our community are in fact those on any form of income assistance who are at the mercy of the private rental market. Rents have increased at double the rate of CPI over the last two years.”
While there is clearly a need to act quickly, it is also important that any changes are fair and targeted to those most in need Mr Nicholson said.
“The needs of all disadvantaged people need to be considered – and unfortunately to get it right will take time.”
Mr Nicholson also urged the Government to crack down on tax concessions for the wealthy, like superannuation, as part of its review.
“Since July 2007 contributions to super have been taxed at 15 percent on entry and, after the age of 65, at 15 percent on annual income earned.
“At best this represents a flat tax rate of 15 percent, but affluent Australians are able to contribute much more which means they pay lower effective marginal rates of tax.
“This costs the Commonwealth some $20 billion per year and is highly regressive.
“There is blatant unfairness in our tax system at the moment. While pensioners are struggling, the wealthy are getting tax breaks,” Mr Nicholson said.