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Senate back Greens’ call for Inquiry into Inequality

The Australian Greens have successful moved for a Senate Inquiry into Inequality in Australia, opening the door for a proper review of the impact of the Abbott Government's budget.

The Inquiry has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee.

"I welcome the Senate's support, in recognition that inequality is a growing problem in Australia, and the Federal Budget will only make matters worse," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"This week, Oxfam's report Still the Lucky Country? has shown that 79% of Australians think the gap our richest and poorest has grown over the last decade.

"The Government's cruel range of budget measures, many of which were introduced into the House of Representatives today, is set to dramatically increase this inequality, by affecting some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.

"The budget deliberations, Commission of Audit and Welfare Review have been closed processes and we have legislation and policies that could harm people across the community and could expose them to poverty and entrenched, intergeneration disadvantage.

"Our Inquiry will provide an opportunity to look at extent of income inequality in Australia and the rate at which income inequality is increasing. Submissions will be encouraged and welcomed from individuals and organisation who wish to be involved. The Committee will also hold public hearings and consult widely with community and charity organisations.

"The Inquiry will examine the specific impacts of inequality on disadvantaged groups within the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older job seekers, people living with a disability or mental illness, refugees, single parents, those on a low income, people at risk of poverty in retirement as well as the relationship between gender and inequality.

"The Government cannot continue avoid scrutiny of their budget and the impacts it will have. Inequality is a serious problem facing Australia, and it must be addressed," Senator Siewert concluded.

The dates for public submissions and hearings will be determined by the Community Affairs References Committee in the coming weeks. The Inquiry is due to report by 26 November 2014.

Terms of Reference:

That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 26 November 2014:

(a) the extent of income inequality in Australia and the rate at which income inequality is increasing in our community;
(b) the impact of income inequality on access to health, housing, education and work in Australia, and on the quality of the outcomes achieved;
(c) the specific impacts of inequality on disadvantaged groups within the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older job seekers, people living with a disability or mental illness, refugees, single parents, those on a low income, people at risk of poverty in retirement as well as the relationship between gender and inequality;
(d) the likely impact of Government policies on current and future rates of inequality particularly the changes proposed in the 2014-15 Budget;
(e) the principles that should underpin the provision of social security payments in Australia; and
(f) the practical measures that could be implemented by Governments to address inequality, particularly appropriate and adequate income support payments.

 

 

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