For a budget that builds an economy for all

Contributed by Joe Montero

In the lad up to the coming Federal 2021-22 budget, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has called for funding for tens of thousands of care-sector jobs, , including in aged care, disability services and mental health and not to proceed with planned tax cuts.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We need to generate decent, new jobs in the community service sector, which is made up of 80% women, so that we can properly resource important services like aged care, disability, mental health, homelessness and domestic violence services.

“The Budget should equip us as a community to handle the big challenges we face together, like the yawning gaps we can see in the delivery of human services. As a first step, $2 billion per year should be invested in community services to reverse the cuts seen since the 2014 Budget and respond to growth in population and increases in the cost of delivering services”.

Australia certainly needs this to combat past neglect and move forward to creating an inclusive economy and society. Without this, both will be compromised.

It must be added that those who currently do not have an income that provides a reasonable standard of living must see this changed. Without a major increase in all Centrelink benefits, any will be denied inclusion and participation, and the economy will suffer for it in terms of lost jobs, income, and ability to spend. Furthermore, Australia will be creating a kind of society that most of us don’t want.

Inclusion can also be increased through funding for social enterprises.

Photo from Shutterstock: Melbourne’s Lentil As Anything is a good example of a successful social enterprise providing participation and food at a good price.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is calling for much the same as ACOSS. Unions also want more attention on infrastructure and building the foundation of a new manufacturing industry. Every sign is that both will continue to be ignored by the Morrison government.

Infrastructure is important because it provides the backbone of the economy through transportation, sustainable energy, communications, and other shared needs. Manufacturing is key to an economy that aims to create added value, and this is what our shared wealth depends on.

International trade is also important. The direction we are going in now, drives Australia into increasingly narrow dependence on the United States and British economies. The answer is greater independence and diversification, especially when those two economies make up a shrinking proportion of the global economy.

Australia should not be locked into any disadvantageous trading relationships.

The Morrison government’s decision to scrap Victoria’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative is wrong. It was blocked because China initiated it. This was a political decision connected to remaining in the orbit of the United States.

Contrary to all the hype of a Chinese takeover, it would pay genuine critics to look and see what it’s all about. The focus in on cooperation in the development of independent, balanced, and sustainable development, through cooperation in building infrastructure and helping those nations left behind to catch up.

By staying outside, Australia stands to lose opportunities for cooperation and trade with the 140 countries of the possible list of 193 participating at the start of this year. And more are jumping on board.

By 2019 most nations were already involved in the Belt and Road Initiative

The failure is about politics and the determination, at all costs, to maintain ongoing reliance on big foreign investors from the United Sates and Great Britain.

The Morrison government’s obsession with tax cuts is what these investors have demanded. This is not to grow the economy. It primarily is to pull funds out of Australia.

A government has a responsibility to effectively manage the economy. This means allocating resources to ensure an economy for all Australians and not just a few.

Past government policies have created a serious revenue shortfall, which does not allow the means to properly carry out this responsibility.

Rather than tax cuts for the very wealthy and big companies, the tax on them should be increased. This is about sharing the effort in a fair way and according to capacity to contribute.

Australia needs a change in direction.

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