Budget response October 2022
October 26, 2022
Uniting Church welcomes investment in climate action, Voice, Truth and Treaty and community services
The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment to prioritise climate action and to implement the key asks of the Uluru Statement in its revised Budget released on Tuesday.
Other welcome additions in the budget include investment in women, families, children and older Australians as well as a significant boost to international development funding.
Uniting Church President Rev Sharon Hollis said it was pleasing to see the Government stand behind its commitment to cut emissions and transition Australia to a low carbon economy.
“We welcome this commitment to take real action towards addressing the climate crisis,” said Rev Hollis. “This provides a new direction for Australia that is so urgently needed.”
A significant number of measures in the Budget will support the Government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050. This includes $20 billion to expand and modernise Australia’s electricity grids to allow for renewable energy to be fed into the system and $42.6 million to restore the Climate Change Authority.
“At the same time, we welcome the investment in disaster relief that will go to support communities in recovery mode and improve future responses and resilience to natural disasters.”
The President urged the Government to build on this commitment by ending approvals and subsidies for new coal and gas projects.
Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Interim National Chair Rev Mark Kickett said he was delighted to see funding in the Budget for implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart including $5.8 million over 3 years from 2022–23 to commence work on establishing an independent Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement making and truth telling.
The budget also includes funding for the referendum on a First Nations Voice to Parliament and investment in community-led health and justice measures.
“We welcome this investment and commitment to the requests of the Uluru Statement – particularly in the work that must be done in our walking together toward Voice, Truth and Treaty,” said Rev Kickett.
UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said the Federal Budget has delivered much needed investment in older Australians, women, children and families, and the vital community and aged care services that support them.
“In our election campaign we urged the Australian Labor Party to share our vision of uniting a caring Australia. We called for investment in older Australians, in women’s equality, and in stagnant incomes. This Budget reflects the shared commitment to these vital issues.”
Key commitments in the budget include increased funding for aged care, reducing childcare costs, 40,000 new social and affordable homes over five years and $560million for community services. There is also funding for gender equality initiatives and the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children.
At the same time, Ms Little flagged the budget provided nothing towards immediate cost of living relief.
UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe welcomed spending on International Development.
“The Official Development Assistance funds allocated in this budget are an indicator of Australia’s willingness to stand with the most vulnerable in our region, and a recognition of that our wellbeing is inextricably linked to that of our global neighbours,” said Dr Goringe.
“After a long period of neglect, we are glad to see this government begin the strategic reset of our approach to international development with foreign aid of $4.65 billion this year (0.20% of GNI), which includes an historic high of $1.9billion for the Pacific.”
“We are concerned however that this budget did not address the alarming rise in world hunger including millions of people on the brink of famine in the horn of Africa.”
Acting National Director for Frontier Services Rob Floyd welcomed funding for additional doctors and other medical professionals for rural and remote Australia.
“We also welcome the governments allocation of funds for disaster response and building community resilience. Acknowledging and making some contribution to mental health care for people impacted by disasters is also a positive recognition of the context of some of our deeply impacted communities,” said Mr Floyd.
“Whilst some other measures, including addressing housing and climate change, will impact and advantage rural and remote Australia, Frontier Services would encourage more targeted initiatives over time that clearly and directly assist these communities.”
In terms of support for refugees and asylum seekers, Rev Hollis said she welcomed funding for faster visa processing and support for refugees from Ukraine, but it was disappointing to see a $150 million increase in funding for the Government’s offshore processing regime and no increase to Australia’s humanitarian intake.