Melbourne Talk Radio 1377 – Melbourne Tonight Show
With Matt Thompson
13 July 2011
E & OE
Subjects: Impact of carbon tax on charities, people with disability, carers and voluntary organisations
Senator Mitch Fifield joins us now, the Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector. Senator, good evening to you.
Good evening Matt.
Thank you for holding while we’ve been taking some reactions from our listeners to the day’s events. We want to get a little bit specific with you if we can. The area that you look after – how is this going to affect the disability sector?
I think people with disabilities and carers really have become the completely forgotten Australians in this carbon tax debate. There are 4 million Australians with disability. There are 2.6 million carers. Now, the Government is saying, ‘don’t worry about these people, don’t worry about their increasing cost of living, we’ve got that covered. We’re going to increase the disability support pension and we’re going to increase the carer payment.’
But even if you accept that the compensation will be adequate, which I don’t, only the 812,000 people on the DSP and the 170,000 people on the carer payment will be covered. What that means is that you’ve got about 3.2 million people with disability and 2.4 million carers who will get no direct compensation.
And what about the actual organisations that look after people with disabilities and work in the voluntary sector, and do such good work in the community? Where’s the compensation for them?
Well that’s the other side of it. Disability organisations, not-for-profit organisations, the voluntary sector no compensation for them. So take Australian Disability Enterprises, which used to be known as sheltered workshops. They provide jobs for Australians with disability, many of whom have an intellectual impairment. Sometimes they’re manufacturing operations. Or they might be a laundry operation, for example. They can have electricity bills of $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 up to $100,000 a year. So you’ve got to add 10% to the electricity bill straight away off the top. So that’s an extra $10,000 for every $100,000 of electricity expense, which is big money for some of these organisations who run on an absolutely shoestring budget.
And that’s before you get onto the not-for-profit and voluntary organisations. It could be the local footy club, a scout group, a surf lifesaving club. They have electricity costs they will go up. That’s going to mean more fundraising for these organisations.
You’re obviously pursuing the Government over this what’s their response when you come at it from a sector-specific angle? What are they saying to people in this sector?
They’re just saying, ‘trust us.’ They point to the small increase in the disability support pension and the small increase in the carer payment. As I’ve said, I don’t buy that that’s enough. And there will be plenty of people left out. And for not-for-profit organisations, for the voluntary sector it’s just complete silence. There is no answer from the Government. That’s why we think the best thing to do is not to fiddle around the edges and try to fix this thing because it’s a fatally flawed tax. Let’s stop it.
Senator, appreciate your time.
Terrific, thanks very much Matt.
Senator Mitch Fifield joining us there he’s the Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector.