CALLS to do more to help the state's poorest followed yesterday's news that almost 14 per cent of Tasmanians live in poverty.
The alarming data ranks the state second worst in the nation, with 13.7 per cent, or 56,000 Tasmanians, living on less than half the average Australian income.
For a single adult that equated to $358 a week. In the case of a couple with two children it was $752.
Even worse, if that line was raised to 60 per cent of the average income then 24 per cent of Tasmanians would, by definition, be living in poverty.
The 2012 Poverty Report, released by the Australian Council of Social Services to coincide with National Anti-Poverty week, also found:
- 13.1 per cent of Hobart residents live below the poverty line.
- 14.2 per cent of Tasmanians outside of the capital live in poverty.
Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Tony Reidy said too many were doing it too tough.
``These are essential services - things you can't live without. We're not talking about fluffy bits here, or anything thought to be an extra or a luxury,'' Mr Reidy said.
``We acknowledge that we're in constrained financial times at all levels of government, but have always maintained that it is a matter of addressing the right (spending) priorities.''
He is calling on the state government to:
Raise the indexation of grants to the community sector (cut from 3 per cent to 2.5 per cent in the last budget).
Implement the entire cost of living strategy (released a year ago).
Overhaul concessions so they reflect actual rises in the cost of essential services.
Parliamentary secretary for cost of living Rebecca White said boosting employment was critical to breaking the poverty cycle.
``This is why the Premier led a trade mission to Asia to build our export markets across a range of sectors, and why we are supporting jobs growth by investing in crucial infrastructure such as irrigation, progressing an economic development plan with a regional focus and reforming the planning system to encourage investment in Tasmania,'' she said.
Ms White said Tasmania had led the nation in creating cost of living and food security strategies.
``In addition to the $5 million we invested from the sale of Tote to cost of living initiatives, we have also increased concessions on electricity by $11.7 million in 2012-13, and $46.9 million over the next four years.''
Opposition spokeswoman for cost of living Jacquie Petrusma said the report should serve as a wake-up call.
``The best way to tackle poverty is to create jobs and value our communities, rather than destroying industries and abandoning our regions,'' she said.
``For 14 per cent of Tasmanians to be living in poverty, and many more at risk, is simply unacceptable.''
Meanwhile, Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne called on the federal government to abandon its long-held promise of delivering a surplus - or reconsider her party's suggestions to raise revenue.
The report was compiled using Australian Bureau of Statistics data for 2010.