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Vinnies CEO makes bid for Labor preselection

The CEO of St Vincent de Paul, John Falzon, aims to lighten the pressure for charities and strengthen social equality

St Vincent de Paul’s CEO has launched a preselection bid for the newest Labor federal seat in the Australian Capital Territory to combat neoliberalism.

John Falzon will make a play for the seat to promote a “fairer deal” for refugees and asylum seekers, increase the Newstart allowance and restore single-parent payments, contending the need for charities to fill the gap left by governments.

Falzon said charity had become the default mode of delivering social security under the Turnbull government, an outcome he said is unfair to a society “that seeks to be progressive and fair”. His bid will counter this pressure on the sector.

“I’ve learned a great deal from the people most affected by exclusion and inequality – the victims of neoliberalism,” Falzon told Guardian Australia.

Falzon has worked with St Vincent de Paul since 2006 and has served on the board of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), having since been a vocal supporter of the ACOSS Raise the Rate to increase the weekly Newstart allowance by $75.

He has worked in community development in south-west Sydney and is a member of Australian Services Union. Since his 2006 appointment, Falzon has led the charity that has been the most vocally against the Coalition’s austerity budgets.

Falzon has spoken out about the tax cuts and social issues, adding that “inequality is a political failure; not a personal one,” in an opinion piece on Eureka Street.

“Social expenditure is framed as being a gigantic theft while the minimisation, avoidance and reduction of tax, especially on high wealth individuals and corporations, is framed with a pious reverence for the rights of the hard-working wealthy.”

Falzon aims to build a taxation system that would provide a strong safety net for the public and establish a “pay what you can” contribution. This comes after the Coalition’s decision to implement a mid-2024 tax package that will see workers earning between $40,000 and $200,000 pay the same marginal rate.

Falzon told the Guardian Australia that the proposed massive tax cuts will mean cuts to critical social services and social supports instrumental to the community.

“There is an alternative and it’s called government doing its job,” Falzon added. “Which is … to try and achieve the collective dreams of the many instead of pandering to the demands of the wealthy few.”

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