Find right solution to carbon pollution: ACOSS

28/02/2011

The community welfare sector has urged the nation's leaders to work together in setting Australia on the path towards a low carbon future.

"This is a time for all politicians to unite on the sensible road that we must take, as a nation, if we are to reduce our reliance on high polluting forms of energy and secure a healthy and prosperous future," Australian Coucil of Social Services (ACOSS) CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

"One thing that is clear is energy bills are surging now and continue to increase in the absence of a price on carbon.

"The community sector sees the impacts on a daily basis in our work with people struggling to makes end meet. Low income households are already feeling the pain of increasing power bills."

ACOSS has called on the Government address the inadequacy of income support payments, as a precursor to pricing carbon, in particular the need to increase in Newstart Allowance as recommended by the Henry Tax Review.

"People on Newstart are currently living on just $33 a day, which clearly isn't enough to live on now, and will get worse in the move towards a carbon pricing scheme," Dr Goldie said.

"Our main concern is to ensure that low-income households are looked after because we know they have the least capacity to adapt or move."

Dr Goldie said ACOSS was reassured by the commitment in last week's announcement that households will receive assistance in any final agreement.

"However there is still much detail to resolve and we will scrutinise proposals every step of the way to ensure we end up with a fair scheme," Dr Goldie said.

"We will also insist on a high degree of investment in energy efficiency measures for households as a key part of the equation. This is vital if we are to mitigate the effects, adapt, and cut costs in the transition towards a low carbon future.

"ACOSS urges all political parties and the Independents to work together and include the voices and expertise of the community and other sectors in finding a solution, to ensure that we get it right."

ACOSS is the peak body of the community services and welfare sector. Among its members is Catholic Social Services Australia, which provides services to more than a million Australians each year through its 69 member agencies (including CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta) in remote, regional and metropolitan Australia.


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