Some of the $500 million budget savings from closing immigration detention centres should be reallocated to increasing the refugee intake, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
Managing Director Lyle Shelton said this was a big saving off the budget’s bottom line and the government should use it to help persecuted religious minorities fleeing Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
“Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims are among the religious minorities suffering the most. Now that people smuggling has stopped, Australia should help some of the victims of religious cleansing.”
Mr Shelton welcomed the fact that for the first time in years, the quantum of overseas aid money had not been cut or deferred on budget night.
However he noted that aid to Indonesia and Africa had been slashed.
“While it is good that the cuts to the quantum have stopped, sadly Australia has dismally failed to meet its Millennium Development Goal promise to increase aid to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income.
“Our current contribution stands at 0.22pc GNI and meeting the MDG promise of 0.7pc looks increasingly impossible.”
Meanwhile, families with children in childcare had benefitted from the budget, but single parent families had missed out.
“It’s disappointing that there is nothing in the budget for single income families who do not benefit from the increases to the child care rebate. An income splitting initiative would have been fairer and eased living pressure on families by doubling the tax free threshold per couple and reducing the marginal tax rate,” Mr Shelton said.
Additionally, of note is the $450 million to fight home-grown extremism and $750 million for military operations in the Middle East fighting Islamic State.
“Violent religious extremism remains one of the greatest challenges of our time and extremists have proven to the world that they cannot be reasoned with. Combatting them is not cheap.”