Friday, 25 October 2013 10:55

Tax is the Price We Pay for a Decent Society

As the community considers its contribution to the Government’s Commission of Audit, and as the Government considers its legislative and policy agenda, it’s important to take the time to think about what we cherish, Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia, said.

“Our economy is strong compared to the rest of the world. We can afford to restore our tax to GDP ratio to fund the things that matter. Providing health, education and social services will require collecting more tax. Lifting tax as a share of GDP to at least the 23.7% level of 2007, up from levels around 20% in 2010-11, would enable us to pay for what we value,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“People are Australia’s greatest asset. Supporting the full participation of all people will see Australia reach its full potential. Ensuring all Australians have the means and opportunity for a decent life requires a healthy economy delivering sustainable growth, government policies that put people at the centre, and effective and well-targeted revenue collection.

“Australia continues to have pockets of entrenched disadvantage, some of which are growing. We can do better than this. Using revenue to raise benefit levels and enhancing support for services such as child care, job coaching and aged care would improve capacity and motivation, and help ensure no one misses out.

“The popular preoccupation with debt and deficit risks tilting policy away from providing much needed support for the long-term unemployed, and other disadvantaged and vulnerable people, just when we should be increasing our investment in empowering disadvantaged groups to participate in work and social life,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

UnitingCare Australia is one of the largest providers of social services in Australia, via a network that employs 35,000 staff, supported by 24,000 volunteers, to one in eight Australians each year in 1,300 sites in every state and territory across remote, regional, rural, and urban Australia.

“Tax is the price we pay for a decent society. The values of a society are revealed, sometimes in stark relief, in how we treat our most vulnerable citizens,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.