Massive poverty levels ignored in election campaign

Why have the major parties totally ignored the issue of poverty?

2.3 million Australians now live below the official poverty line.

"In a wealthy country like Australia, it is not acceptable for more than 2.3 million people, nearly 600,000 of whom are children, live below the poverty line," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for families and community services said today.

"This issue of poverty has been ignored by the old parties throughout this campaign. In fact they have made things worse for vulnerable people, the most recent example being dumping single parents onto Newstart, reducing their income by up to $130 per week.

"The Greens are the only party talking about poverty, and our initiative for a National Anti-Poverty Strategy delivers on the recommendations of a Senate Inquiry and a range of social justice and welfare organisations.

"Our strategy is founded on the principle that tackling poverty means addressing the range of underlying factors that contribute to it, such as housing affordability, access to education and employment opportunities and inadequate income support payments.

"$12 million over 4 years will be directed to the development of the National Anti-Poverty Strategy, which will include the establishment of an expert group to submit recommendations to COAG for action to reduce poverty as part of a national, coordinated approach.  

"This Strategy will also see poverty reduction targets set, which will be reported on to Parliament each year, to hold governments to account and ensure they remain committed to helping our most vulnerable.

"Central to an anti-poverty strategy will be the inclusion of service providers, in order to develop a national response that is focused on enhancing collaboration between governments and the community sector.

"An anti-poverty strategy compliments other key Greens initiatives, such as our commitment to raise Newstart by $50 a week and effectively reverse the impact of the cuts to single parents, improving housing affordability and homelessness and investing more into healthcare, Denticare, mental health care and justice.

"The old parties are ignoring poverty in Australia. While they turn their backs, the Greens are continuing to stand up for vulnerable people across the country," Senator Siewert concluded.

See also: 2,265,000 people (12.8%) were living below the poverty line