Australia needs a humanely balanced budget

Editorial by Peter Whiting

Political rhetoric in the run-up to the May Commonwealth budget is focused around “economic management” and “fiscal responsibility”, with the Treasurer set on honouring the government’s commitment to balance the budget in 2012-13.  No doubt Australia needs balance in its budget, but a humane balance can only be achieved with a direct focus on social and moral policies based on social equity, international responsibility and justice between generations. Read More

The burden of a tough budget

In the “tough” budget being talked about, which sectors of the economy are to bear the pain? Does the budget recognise that those on low wages and those reliant on work-related welfare policies are already poorly treated by taxation policy and need relief, not further burdens placed upon them? Prime Minister Gillard has been talking about reducing welfare support to encourage recipients into the workforce. Let us hope the budget outcomes do not exacerbate the burdens of low-paid working families to the benefit of the various industry sectors that clamour for taxation relief. Read More

Australia’s global responsibilities

With an economy that is identified by the Treasurer as “strongly recovering” after 18 years of continuous growth, will the budget demonstrate Australia’s willingness to play its part in providing economic aid to poorer countries? This need not be entirely about altruism since, as Mr Rudd when Prime Minister in 2008 noted:

“It is in our own interests to tackle poverty in our region, as part of a wider strategy to deal with the impact of terrorism, climate change, pandemics and refugees on Australia.”

Will the coming budget keep us on track to achieve our commitment to overseas development assistance of 0.5% of gross national income by 2015? To reach this goal, the new budget needs to allocate 0.38% of our GNI in 2011-12. Read More

From generation to generation

Improving Human Rights

Successive generations of indigenous Australians since white settlement have been discriminated against and their human rights trampled. An only too painful example is evident in recent policies about the Northern Territory Intervention. While the abolition of this misguided policy is not a budget matter, one measure of the government’s commitment to improving the human rights and wellbeing of our indigenous people will be the amount and nature of spending committed in the budget.  We need to expand housing, health and education opportunities for indigenous Australians, and not predicate spending on Aborigines surrendering control over their land and culture.

Climate Change and Inter-generational Justice

A further “inter-generational justice” aspect of great concern is especially that of climate change. The industrialisation of first the Western world, and now the developing world, has placed the issue of stewardship of world resources in sharp focus. In his 2009 address to SPC, Dr Geoff Lacey called for a prophetic stance, challenging the ruling values.

In its efforts to introduce a carbon tax the government is certainly experiencing the downside of adopting such a stance. The carbon tax will not form part of the May budget, but the commitment of the government to renewable energy sources will be on show and should be closely watched as an indicator of its resolve to address climate change. Read More

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