THE St Vincent de Paul Society has again criticised Prime Minister John Howard over his response to the Senate Inquiry into Poverty and Financial Hardship in Australia.
On March 11, the day the inquiry report was released, Mr Howard denied the report’s assertion that the poor of Australia were getting poorer.
The society’s national social justice committee president, Terry McCarthy, in a statement released on April 5, said Mr Howard was mistaken.
‘Believe the Government if you will, but the 3.6 million Australians living in households with a weekly income of $400 or less and the additional 1 million who live on less than $500 a week will know who to believe,’ Mr McCarthy said.
He said these millions of people were more likely to:
Suffer serious illness and die younger than the rest of the population, and increasingly be without access to a bulk-billing GP.
Have inadequate access to education and training opportunities for a job.
Be among the households where no one has ever worked. There are an estimated 700,000 children living in such households.
Be a household among the 1 million ‘working poor’, many of whom are in casual jobs.
Be among the households where one in six young people are at risk of never finding a full-time job.
Be excluded from home ownership, and spending up to 40 per cent of household income on rental accommodation.
Have children who would not go on to tertiary education.
Be one of 500,000 waiting for up to four years for dental treatment.
Be among the main candidates for family breakdown which further entrenches poverty.
Mr McCarthy said these poor had not received a share of Australia’s recent strong economic growth.
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