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Budget surplus, but not everyone is a winner

While there were a few big pieces of spending and savings to come out of the 2023 Federal Budget, overall it wasn’t very exciting. It was touted as a budget that would focus on the cost of living but there doesn’t appear to be a lot in there to help ease the burden on families doing it tough. It’s only small, but this budget is heading towards the first surplus in 15 years, coming in at $4.2 billion for this financial year. It’s expected to be short lived, with a deficit of $13.9 billion in 2023-24 and even more lower deficits in the years to come. Some of the Cost-of-Living highlights:

  • Low-income households will receive relief in the form of a deduction of up to $500 from their power bills from July 1, 2023. Eligible small businesses will receive a deduction of up to $650.

  • Those on JobSeeker will receive an increase in their payments of $40 a fortnight from September 20 this year, while those over 55 on JobSeeker will receive an increase of $92.10 a fortnight, which is currently reserved for those over 60.

  • Also in September (subject to being passed in parliament), eligible single parents will receive the single rate of Parenting Payment until their youngest child turns 14 (currently only available until the youngest child turns eight). The current base rate of Parenting Payment (single) is $922.10 per fortnight, compared to the JobSeeker payment base rate of $745.20 per fortnight.

  • The maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance will also increase by 15% (subject to being passed in parliament). For a single CRA recipient with no dependants who does not share their rental home with anyone else and who is receiving the maximum amount of assistance, their payment would increase from $157.20 a fortnight to $180.80.

Some of the budget winners:

  • Small business – The government will reward small business owners with a range of financial measures. The instant asset write-off threshold will be temporarily increased to $20,000 from July 1 for a year. This means small businesses with an annual turnover less than $10m will be able to instantly deduct the entire cost of certain assets that cost less than $20,000, which are first used between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024. The $20,000 threshold applies to each asset, so small businesses can take advantage of this measure to buy multiple assets.

  • Health - The government will spend $3.5 billion to triple the bulk-billing incentive that GPs receive, meaning there will be more common consultation types which doctors can choose to bulk bill. The government will also spend hundreds of millions to better coordinate healthcare, including on telehealth, the digitisation of records and increasing Medicare rebates for consults longer than 60 minutes. Aged care workers will also benefit from a 15% pay rise.

  • Veterans - Services for veterans will be better funded, including $64.1m over the coming financial year for additional resourcing to tackle the backlog of claims for supports, as well as increased demand for complex case management, rehabilitation, pharmacy and health approvals. Another $2 million will be spent over two years to continue the Department of Veterans Affairs mental health literacy and suicide intervention training program for the ex-service community.

  • Cash boost for young carers - Young people aged 12 to 25 who are caring for a loved one will get a cash boost so they can continue their education. The nearly $10 million funding increase to Carers Australia’s Young Carer Bursary Program will be increased from $3000 to $3768 and the number of bursaries offered will increase by nearly 60% to around 1600 each year over the period 2023 to 2025.

Some of the budget losers:

  • Travellers - Whether you’re going on holiday or moving for good, you’ll have to pay an extra $10, as the government increases the passenger movement charge from 1 July 2024 from $60 to $70 a passenger.

  • Tobacco and vaping companies - Nicotine products will be more expensive, less attractive or illegal. The budget includes a 5% tax hike on cigarettes, taking the average price of a packet to roughly $50. The measure is expected to raise more than $3 billion in revenue. There will also be a ban on all non-prescription and single-use vapes, while all medically prescribed vapes will be flavourless and come in pharmaceutical-like packaging.

  • Scammers - A national anti-scam centre will be established from this coming financial year, at a cost of $58m, to respond to a spike in online scams and fraud. The centre will share scam data across government and the private sector. Scammers sending phoney text messages have also been put on notice, with $10m allocated for an SMS sender ID registry to stop criminals impersonating government and industry names.

  • Visa applicants - Applying for a visa is about to get more expensive. All application costs will rise at least six percentage points from July, except for applicants from the Pacific Islands. That means tourists will pay $40 more ($190 overall), a backpacking visa will cost $130 more ($640 overall) and students will pay $65 more ($715 overall).

Member for Longman Terry Young had a mixed reaction to this budget: “I was pleased to see the continuation of some of the work that we, the Coalition started in the last term of government such as the extension of the instant asset write off for small businesses, investment in programs to help women who are victims of domestic violence and additional funding for the processing of veteran’s affairs claims,” Mr Young said. “What I am not pleased about is that this budget has an extra $180 billion dollars of spending which will drive inflation up even further. At the election Mr Albanese promised Australians that under a Labor government they would be better off, that electricity prices and mortgage payments would drop when in fact nothing is going down, everything is going up, except real wages, noting that JobSeeker payments will increase. “So, wage earners effectively will earn less and job seekers will earn more? Surely, all Australians should be better off, not just some of those on welfare? The economics are simple - when government spending goes up, so does inflation and everything else.”

With our community struggling with infrastructure issues such as roads, Mr Young was disappointed to see there was no mention of any infrastructure spending at all, including the promise of a fourth lane on the Bruce Highway between Uhlmann Rd and Dohles Rocks Rd or the $3 million for Bribie Island Road.

“There is also no mention in the budget of all the other election promises made by Labor for our electorate of Longman,” Mr Young said.

“No mention of the $3 million for new clubhouse at the Narangba Eagles Football Club, no mention of the $3 million for the new Caboolture Rugby League Clubhouse and no mention of the $3 million for the splash park at Centenary Lakes in Caboolture.

“The people of Longman have been snubbed by this government and promise after promise has been broken, its simply not good enough and I will be holding them to account. I was truly hoping that this budget would help relieve cost of living to average Australians but sadly it does just the opposite.”


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