Budget ignores those in greatest need

Money spent on incarcerating asylum-seekers could be better spent on the homeless (Bigstock)

The budget should have made social justice issues a top priority, writes Sr Mary Trainor RSM in the Central Western Daily.

With last week's announcement of the federal budget for the next financial year there are certainly lots of comments and issues blowing in the wind.

Most of us would make no claim to be financial experts or conversant with the finer details underlying the decisions being made. But on the other hand, we are Australian citizens for whom the well being of all Australians at all levels of the financial spectrum is important.

This allows us to raise pertinent questions for which there do not appear to be any answers forthcoming.

We have thousands of homeless people living in appalling conditions and our government is still spending billions of dollars incarcerating refugees – including those already acknowledged as eligible for resettlement in Australia – instead of spending that money wisely and well to help them and all Australians to have a proper roof over their heads.

The news that Mission Australia is close to opening the new accommodation for homeless people here in Orange, NSW, is cause to rejoice.

But the underlying questions would have to be: what has caused these people to become homeless? Are rentals too high? Are government subsidies adequate to provide a reasonable living? Are disability assessors able to look at the big picture?

There is also the issue of drug testing for people applying for benefits and the possibility of their pension money only being available through the use of a card system. While I am adamantly opposed to the misuse of drugs, it appears to me to be a punitive system being introduced without the proper supports and services to make it work.

The word budget is interesting. It implies a careful, well thought out process whereby each of us can make the best use of the funds available, letting commonsense prevail and the most urgent of needs be attended.

Our Sisters of Mercy Foundress Catherine McAuley described common sense as “that rarest of virtues”. I believe she was right.

She is also quoted as saying “the poor need help now – not next week” and I believe she was right there, too.


The power of nun: Budgeting for social justice should be a top priority (Central Western Daily)

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