A few days ago, the Coalition government delivered a rather unique federal budget. With an election just around the corner, Australia’s budget reveal doubled up as a Liberal political campaign. As predicted, Morrison splashed the cash on this one, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg boasting about delivering the first surplus budget in 12 years; but of course, there is a catch. At first glance, the “no loser” budget seems almost legit; but when you dig a little deeper—it’s not all raindrops on petals and whiskers on kittens.
The leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, labeled the Coalition’s Budget a “bunch of election bribes”.
So, let’s take a look at who they’re apparently bribing.
Designer of Julie Bishop’s dress
According to some media outlets, Bishop’s “more disco than deficit” frock stole the budget’s limelight. The designer, Rachel Gilbert, described it as “perfect for a special occasion”—and what better occasion than the budget reveal, ey? I suppose it shows how, to some, a dress is more newsworthy than what our hard-earned tax money will be spent on this year.
Small to medium businesses
The expanded asset write-off scheme is set to increase the threshold from 25 thousand dollars to $30,000 per asset, with eligibility expanded to businesses with a turnover of up $10 million dollars for small businesses, and $50 million dollars for medium-sized businesses. Employers who take on apprentices will see their incentive payments doubled to $8,000 per placement, with apprentices set to receive a $2,000 payment. Over the next five years, 80,000 new apprenticeships have been planned.
Services for older Aussies
Over $700 million dollars (over the next five years) has been put aside to improve the quality of aged care. This includes: $282 million to fund 10,000 new home care packages, $38.4 million towards strengthening aged-care regulation, and $185 million towards dementia and aging research. Additionally, there will be a once-off $320 million subsidy boost, which will see pensioners receive a one-off payment of $75 for singles, $125 for couples, to go towards their electricity bill. But how much of a difference will that make to struggling seniors?
The tax payer
$158 billion of additional tax relief is perhaps the showpiece of this budget. People earning up to $126 thousand, could get up to a grand back with their tax return. High-income earners are also set to benefit, with the Coalition wanting to cut the five income tax brackets down to four, meaning that everyone earning between $45,001 and $200,000 will essentially get taxed at the same rate of 30 per cent. No wonder it’s been dubbed a “win-win” budget. But, here’s the catch—the government won’t legislate the tax-cut until it’s re-elected. On top of that, the 30 per cent tax bracket is for 2024/25, so the Liberal party would need to re-elected twice for this to happen.
In order to provide drought relief, the Coalition government has repurposed $3.9 billion dollars, originally put aside for the NDIS, to set up an Emergency Response Fund. According to Frydenberg it will “ensure additional resourcing is available to support future natural disaster recovery efforts”. Additionally, more than $29 million is also set to enhance Australia’s agricultural exports over the next four years. The Government has even put aside $8.7 million over the next eleven years, on the already announced ‘Dairy Code of Conduct’, in order to reinstate a power balance between farmers and processors.
This year’s budget is brimming with infrastructure funding, with a whopping $100 billion spent on road and rail projects across the country. The aim is to ease congestion and create safer travel. Morison was in Perth last week to announce that $1.6 billion will be spent on WA’s roads and rail lines to support the state’s post-boom economy. It is worth noting, that only $25 billion of that is new spending, the other $75 billion was already announced or underway.
It’s not looking too great for young people this year, with university funding being largely ignored—along with our climate action pleas. There is also no relief for unaffordable housing or Welfare recipients.
First time home buyers
Despite saying “Affordable housing is a priority for the government” in his Budget speech, Frydenberg has failed to provide the details. So if you’re a working class millennial hoping to buy your first home this year, unfortunately, your best bet is waiting for your parents to die—as grim as that may be.
Clearly, last month’s ‘Strike 4 Climate’ didn’t make much of an impact on the Coalition, as they decided to cut the climate solution fund by $70 million. According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, for every dollar spent on climate action, four will go towards fossil-fuel projects, with $1.5 billion going to coal mining companies alone. Despite saying the Australian environment is a “precious inheritance”, Frydenburg only spared $100 million for an Environment Restoration Fund.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
While the nation may be celebrating a surplus, disability services have been left anguished, after not receiving $1.6 billion of their unspent funds from last year. Many, including Green’s Senator Jordon Steele-John, have shamed the Coalition saying we may be ‘back in black’ “but that surplus is built on the backs of disabled people”. And let’s not leave out this little shade-filled treasure.
One of the budgets saving measures was a $79 million cut to refugee support services. Arrival refugees will now have to wait a year, instead of 6 months, before being able to access Centrelink’s job-seeker programme. The government has also decided to close the Christmas Island centre just weeks after spending $185 million dollars to re-open it.
No that’s not a typo. The government has decided to drop $27.5 million on ant eradication plans, that’s right—ants, three in particular. The first is the Red Fire Ant, which could exceed the combined damage done by “our worst pests”, including “cats, wild dogs, foxes, camels, rabbits and cane toads” combined. The Crazy Yellow ant is another specie apparently threatening our eco-system, as well as the Argentine ant, with $9.2 million going towards the extermination of the former and $8.4 million towards the latter.
WA’s unemployment rate is at it’s all time highest in nearly two decades, with almost 100,000 people looking for work. So what solution does the government provide for the unemployed? Become an ant exterminator.
These are just a few of the winners and losers of the Government’s 2019 budget. If you’re looking to compare the pair, keep your eyes peeled for Labor’s budget reveal tonight!