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Budget 2005: Hits and Misses

Thursday 19 May, 2005

Budget 2005: Hits and Misses

The commitments outlined in today’s Budget, which focused on savings and significant increases in portfolios such as health and education also provided benefits to areas such as housing, child advocacy and mental health, and this has been welcomed by Caritas, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development.

“The additional $134 million over the next four years to provide homes for those in need; the implementation of a new child advocacy service; and the continued funding of the Government’s Mental Health Blueprint, show that the Government is committed to helping the vulnerable in our community,” Caritas Director, Mike Smith said today.

The Government is looking to invest about $43.7 million over the next four years on proposals aimed at vulnerable young children and their families which have many positive aspects, but if not properly monitored, could worsen the situation for many families.

“While the Government has worked hard to lower the unemployment rate and encouraged more people to enter the workforce, we need to ensure that for parents who chose to stay at home with their children, that they are not unfairly disadvantaged,” said Smith. “We also need to recognise that for some living with severe disabilities or who are terminally ill, work will never provide a realistic path out of poverty and the Government needs to ensure their needs are addressed.”

Together with domestic advocacy, Caritas is a lead agency in overseas development and relief work and the 0.01 per cent increase in overseas development assistance was particularly disappointing.

The Government committed itself to giving 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income in overseas aid by 2015, when it signed up to the Millennium Development Goals in 2000.

“In the Budget today there was only a 0.01 per cent increase to 0.27 per cent which will rise to 0.28 per cent in 2007/2008. At this rate it will take the Government until at least 2045 to reach its 0.7 per cent promise to the United Nations and developing countries.

“As Dr Cullen said today ‘the building of a better future is by definition, a task which is never completed,’ and while there are many good aspects in the budget, there is room for improvement,” said Smith.


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