Yesterday, I drew attention to Eureka St’s take on the Budget, with three principles for it to be good news for the poor. It looks to be a disappointment.
Frank Quinlan, Director of Catholic Social Services Australia, was allowed into the ‘lock-up’ for journos (where no doubt he saw David Koch salivating over his papers). He writes that he looked through the 30 cm-thick papers and the:
…in the ‘Budget Overview’ document, I found the section on social inclusion and my heart sank. I quote it directly:
‘Downturn or not, there will always be people in our society who suffer disadvantage. Through National Partnerships, the government is working to improve the social inclusion of the disadvantaged on a range of fronts, including homelessness, disability services, low socio economic status schools and Indigenous outcomes.’
Later, the detailed document indicated that the government has ‘sought further advice’ from the Social Inclusion Board.
After all that we have heard about the social inclusion agenda, after all we have heard about a new way of working with the community sector, after all the evidence we have presented that the community services sector will face unprecedented demand over the next two years … No comprehensive strategies to lift people out their immediate poverty. No coherent strategy to strengthen and support the community services sector.
While the government is prepared to spend only cautiously on a politically acceptable selection of the people that use our services, and while government is prepared to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into industries as globally uncompetitive as the car industry or as patently unproductive as the banking and finance ‘industry’ or on ventures as speculative and risky as carbon sequestration, we have not been able to convince government to invest directly and strategically in an industry as essential and as effective as the community service sector.
I wrote in response to the first Rudd Labor Budget that we may have turned a corner, towards a fairer Australia and a more sustainable community sector, but that only time would tell. After all the scripted theatre of pre-budget leaks, secure lock-ups and dazzling announcements are stripped away, the 2009–10 Budget seems to indicate that we may well be waiting for a long time yet.
Read the rest here, weep, pray & act.