This year, Australia had not one but two Federal Budgets because of the change in leadership and rapidly evolving economic conditions.
The October budget, handed down by Treasurer Jim Chalmers, reflected a number of election commitments.
Here are some of the highlights:
For Families and Individuals
If you’re planning to start a family over the next few years, you can look forward to more generous payments in terms of child care and parental leave.
A key feature announced in the budget is the evolution towards 26 weeks of Paid Parental Leave by 2026. Households with two parents will be able to decide how leave is shared between them.
In addition, over the next four years, the Government will spend $4.7 billion on child care as it increases the child care subsidy cap to 90 per cent for families earning below $530,000 in household income.
In terms of housing, the government has set a goal of building a million new homes over five years from 2024. The Help to Buy Schemes announced earlier in the year will remain in place.
The government has also committed $787.1 million over 4 years to reduce the general
patient co-payment for treatments on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from $42.50 to
$30 per script.
Education and economic drivers
The budget announced investment in skills training across a number of areas, including:
- Delivering 480,000 fee-free TAFE places and a $50 million TAFE Technology Fund to
- Providing 20,000 additional university places for disadvantaged Australians.
- $474.5 million over two years to support student well-being and improve classrooms.
- Supporting women’s workforce participation and advancing gender equality.
- Boosting the Work Bonus income bank to give older Australians the option to work and keep more of their pension.
Environment, restoration and energy
- A Powering Australia Plan to drive investment in cleaner, cheaper energy, including $20 billion of low-cost finance under Rewiring the Nation to upgrade our electricity infrastructure.
- Acting on climate change and a $1.8 billion investment in strong action to protect, restore
and manage our precious natural environment.
- Up to $200 million per year on disaster prevention and resilience initiatives through
the Disaster Ready Fund, as well as additional funding for flood affected communities and
extra staff to quickly get Australians the support they need.
- The Government is responding to rising energy costs by committing $62.6 million to support small and medium-sized businesses in improving their energy efficiency and reducing energy use.
- The budget’s Driving the Nation Fund invests $500 million to help reduce transport emissions, including electric vehicle charging infrastructure at 117 highway sites and hydrogen highways for key freight routes. The Government will also ensure its fleet purchases and leases will be 75 per cent electric by 2025.
- There will be more than $120 billion of investment in transport infrastructure over the next 10 years. Projects include:
- $500 million for corridor acquisition, planning and early works on high-speed rail between Sydney and Newcastle
- $300 million for the Western Sydney Roads Package
- $2.2 billion investment in Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop East over the next 5 years
- $586.4 million to upgrade the Bruce Highway through Brisbane’s outer northern suburbs
- $85.9 million in funding for Canberra Light Rail Stage 2A
There didn’t seem to be any big announcements in terms of cost of living relief, wages or tax breaks other than things like exempting eligible electric cars from fringe benefits tax (FBT) and the 5 per cent import tariff. There were also general promises to “improve the integrity and fairness of the tax system”, which will be done in part with the help of “a multinational tax integrity package which raises around $1 billion over 4 years”.
The Government has pledged to support increased pay for women in low-paid sectors, including through the introduction of a statutory equal remuneration principle, which will reduce barriers to pay equity claims. It has also discussed tackling insecure work to allow more workers to plan for their future and get ahead by making job security an explicit objective of the Fair Work Act 2009 and limiting the use of fixed-term contracts for ongoing roles.
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