But uncertainty remains over cuts to services
SACOSS is today releasing a report card ahead of this Saturday’s state election.
In compiling our report card we wrote to and met with the parties to seek responses to 33 SACOSS policies across 7 areas.
SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley says, “In a time of political cynicism, SACOSS is pleased that all parties demonstrate in one way or another, they have taken the time to listen to the concerns of the non-government health and community services sector.”
“They have come up with meaningful responses to the policies we proposed to support vulnerable and disadvantaged people.”
“This election SACOSS has put a spotlight on digital poverty and its consequences,” says CEO Ross Womersley.
“We are seeing a growing digital divide with people increasingly locked out of participation in economic and social life, because of the cost, complexity and penetration of digital technologies.”
“We are delighted to see that all parties have taken digital inclusion seriously in this election, with four parties supporting the development of a statewide digital inclusion plan.
“Both Labor and Liberal have put together different packages which we believe are good starting points to address digital inclusion, while the Greens and Dignity both directly adopted key digital inclusion measures put forward by SACOSS.”
Supporting the Social Services Sector
“We are similarly delighted that all parties have supported the existing efforts to improve and simplify the funding regime for not-for-profits – and that the major parties have announced additional initiatives to support the sector.”
Tax and Expenditure
“Our one big worry for our sector is that cuts to funding of services to vulnerable and disadvantaged people remain on the table. We welcome Labor’s commitment that it would not make any cuts that haven’t already been announced, and we assume this will mean no sector cuts despite its own departmental efficiency dividend announced in the Mid-Year Budget Review.
“The Liberals have announced significant tax cuts in a range of areas which will impact on their available revenue should they form government and we note they are yet to announce how they intend to fund these election promises. That said, they have given no specific commitment to ensuring that there would not be cuts to funding of services.
“SA-Best also have made commitments to both significant tax cuts and new investments. It is not clear how these would necessarily be funded. However they do commit to making any efficiency savings created available for discretionary re-allocation within appropriate services.”
“The starkest difference in the positions of the parties is evident in the area of Gambling policy. While Dignity, the Greens and SA Best each supported the specific gambling harm minimisation measures SACOSS proposed, the Greens’ policy of phasing out pokies from pubs and clubs was the most welcome, followed by SA Best’s proposal to significantly reduce poker machine numbers.
“Both Liberal and Labor disappointingly stick with the status quo – despite the known problems of gambling harm.”
The minor parties
While the scorecard focuses on the 3 parties most likely to form government, we recognise the important role of the minor parties in the Upper House. We give them a score out of 10 based on the support they have indicated for policies we put forward that will require the passage of legislation.
The Greens get an outstanding 9.5/10. Dignity perform well with 7.5/10. The Australian Conservatives and Advance SA are both awarded a mid range 5/10.
Cost of Living
“Responses to our Cost of Living policies were on the other hand generally disappointing. Labor has however initiated a range of different measures (eg negotiating a better deal for concession recipients, and installation of solar and battery storage in conjunction with development of a virtual power plant prioritising Housing trust tenants) which clearly go considerable distance to addressing these pressures for many low income households.”
“SACOSS also welcomes SA-Best’s comments on Cost of Living, and its commitment to achieving lower prices by withdrawing support if it holds the balance of power.”
Children, Young People and Families
“We are glad that we should see a bill passed through parliament to mandate investments in harm prevention and early intervention activities that drive enhanced wellbeing for children, young people and their families.
“We are also particularly satisfied that the Liberals and some of the cross-bench parties have agreed to fix the flaws in the child protection Act passed last year.”
Health, Housing and Justice
“All parties recognised the importance of investments in disease prevention and early intervention through community based primary health services. And there was also unanimous commitment to maintain and develop stronger community services and support for people who have mental health issues.”
“We were disappointed no party was prepared to categorically say that there would be more public housing at the end of their term of government than at the beginning, but do welcome Labor’s most recent commitment to invest $150m in the replacement of 600 old Housing Trust properties.
“Access to affordable, safe and secure housing remains a foundation stone in being able to build a good life and the fact that public housing assets in SA have been eroded, is of deep concern to SACOSS.
Please note: The scoring of policies and report cards is always difficult because we are not always comparing like-for-like and the government party obviously has the advantages or Treasury and Departmental resources to assess and develop proposals, whereas a wise opposition needs to be more prudent in what they promise. This was taken into some account in scoring policy positions.
See the complete version of the SACOSS report card, including links to all policy responses: https://www.sacoss.org.au/2018-party-report-card .