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A strong society is as important as physical infrastructure and tax cuts

Date published: Wednesday 9 May 2018

Category(ies): Media release

The peak body for Baptist community service organisations, Baptist Care Australia, sees the 2018-19 federal Budget as a lost opportunity to strengthen an increasingly fragmented society.

"Physical infrastructure is certainly an important part of being a healthy economy, and no doubt some Australians will be pleased with the government's income tax cuts," said Executive Director, Marcia Balzer.

"But the government has missed an opportunity. Investing in creating a strong society - in the humans who drive the economy, workplaces and communities - is the other side of the infrastructure coin.

"The reality is that Australians are a diverse bunch. We're stronger for it, but this also means we need to work at being a connected, trusting community.

"Every government in 21st Century Australia needs to grasp this reality if we want to move from where we are to the stronger, more cohesive Australia where we all want to live. This means paying as much attention to the people who make up our society as the infrastructure that fills the landscape.

"With increasing costs of living and stagnant incomes, many Australians feel they're missing out. And an increasing sense of mistrust and insecurity is fuelling the sense that things are getting worse rather than better," Ms Balzer said.

Baptist Care Australia believes that seriously addressing several urgent priorities would be a good start.

"A growing chorus of voices is calling for government action to heal some of our society's cracks by seriously addressing poverty - by raising the lowest income support payments and providing better opportunities to those in low-paid work.

"There's increasing public recognition of a growing housing crisis across the country, which is going to take a massive and coordinated effort to properly address.

"And it's long past time for us to take steps to recognise Australia's First Peoples in our Constitution in a spirit of reconciliation and generosity.

"These would be good places for the government to start if it wanted to balance an economic viewpoint with action to strengthen and repair Australian society," Ms Balzer said.