By Matt Owen
The Federal Government’s 2021-22 Budget was handed down on May 11 and, as with every budget, there are winners and losers. With effects of COVID still influencing sectors of the economy the Federal Government is looking to stimulate spending and consumer confidence. Unfortunately, it is fair to assume COVID has also led to an increase in domestic violence, mental health issues and suicide.
Let’s start with The Winners:
Personal Income Tax
Tax relief will be provided to around 65,000 taxpayers in the Longman electorate with up to $2,745 more in their pocket. This is due to the extension of the low and middle income tax offset to 2021-22, coupled with the decision to bring forward stage 2 of the Government’s tax relief plan. It is hoped that this tax relief leads to increased local spending to drive sectors like retail, tourism and hospitality.
The budget also includes expanding the JobTrainer Fund that provides local opportunities for apprenticeships and traineeships. Wage subsidies to the tune of 50% are being provided to 170,000 new apprentices and trainees in addition to the 100,000 apprentices currently being supported. A major concern is our youth becoming long-term unemployed and by fostering growth in these areas it must be a good thing.
Asset write offs will continue to allow 14,700 Longman businesses to write off the full value of any eligible asset they purchase. Again, a tick for supporting local business and the flow-on effect to other industries such as machinery, vehicles and retail.
First home buyers are facing challenging times with a growing market and increased competition from investors (more on that later) and interstate buyers. The First Home Super Save Scheme and the similar program for eligible single parents are initiatives to help those that would possibly have been ‘locked out’ of the market.
Aged Care, Mental Health and Childcare
Probably the biggest winners. This budget provides the Federal Government with an opportunity to right some wrongs in relation to the treatment of the elderly and the failure of the aged care system. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety did get somewhat lost amongst the drama of COVID but the takeaway for many was that our elderly deserve better, and as a country we have been failing them with a failing system. We must be better in this area. Make sure to read the full report and the 148 wide-ranging recommendations to get the full picture.
The Federal Government response includes an additional 80,000 Home Care Packages, in what they call a $17.7 billion package of support. Hopefully this will lead to a world-class system for our elderly, a reduction in wait times, zero abuse, improved care, staff satisfaction and more dignity for our elderly. Time will tell with this one as it has been in the ‘too hard basket’ for a long time. A national disgrace.
Childcare reforms will increase affordability for around 1,770 families living in Longman, opening the door for parents to return to the workforce or increase their hours. Read the fine print on this one with single child families to miss out on the savings.
$2.3 billion has been committed to mental health care and suicide prevention, including more Headspace centres to support more young Australians, greater access to psychiatrists, through Medicare and a new National Suicide Prevention Office. Mental health and suicide have been two of the ‘hidden’ effects of COVID so again we can only hope that this $2.3 billion really makes a difference to those in need.
Addressing Domestic Violence
Unfortunately, domestic violence continues to be an issue in society. A shout-out to Bribie Island’s own Hairdressers with Hearts here. Additional Government support is coming in the form of emergency accommodation, more legal assistance, counselling, and financial support. Again, we can only hope that this leads to zero deaths due to domestic violence, but instinct tells me that this is not enough. These initiatives seem more concerned with ‘post’ domestic violence support. The opportunity here was to focus on the ‘pre’ domestic violence through changes to laws, punishment and zero tolerance in relation to stalking and continued abuse. A winner in terms of relative improvement but more needs to be done here. Loss of life due to domestic violence is simply unacceptable. Too many lives have been lost.
Major Local Road Upgrades
Local roads will continue to be improved with $10 million to upgrade Bribie Island Road between Hickey Road and King John Creek. We can only hope this doesn’t cause the delays that the current State Government Roadworks have done at Old Toorbul Road. Are these the worst roadworks ever in terms of productivity and time lost for road users where $30 million has been spent and near daily traffic jams for 6 months? With the planned upgrade to Beachmere Road (State Government) and the new lights at Spinnaker Marina, hopefully that is all the roadworks we need until we get the new bridge.
The environment has not been forgotten, with $1.6 billion to fund priority protection technologies including clean hydrogen and energy storage and upgraded recycling capabilities.
It seems to be the Australian way to invest in construction to stimulate the economy. This budget flags $10 billion committed to infrastructure projects across Australia.
Cervical and breast screening programs boosted in addition to funding for endometriosis and reproductive health. Surely, we can do more to fight cancer and for early detection? Our fight against COVID has shown us what is possible. What if similar resources were to be put into fighting cancer? Just imagine.
Federal Member for Longman, Terry Young said, “This Budget is the next stage in securing Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”
Yes it is exactly that, Terry. It is a positive step and we have seen personal income tax cuts, incentives for local businesses, new apprenticeship and training places, improved roads and mobile phone coverage and record funding for schools, hospitals, aged care, mental health and the NDIS.
Overall, a budget that is driving the economy in the right direction after the damage caused by COVID. But there is always room for improvement and there are always losers.
So, where is the room for improvement?
Maybe that isn’t the best way to put it. It is more about implementing the systems and getting value out of these billions of dollars to get real life results. We can’t continue stuffing up aged care, housing, NDIS and domestic violence. These areas are where we should be striving to be global leaders. Similarly, mental health and suicide. COVID has proven that things can happen, and that Governments can implement real change in real time. So why can’t the same happen for other issues like those mentioned above?
And The Losers:
Rental shortages, social housing, shelter. I have never heard of so many people about to be homeless, so many rental applications, rents increasing and so many people relocating. Schemes such as NRAS and social housing have not been game-changing in the past. $500 to rent a house is too much for many families. With supply and demand we are now at the point of $400 for a basic home. This requires an income of around $1000 per week to survive, taking into account other expenses. So roughly a $60,000 wage to scrape by with rent and costs of living.
Don’t hold your breath on this one. We are going to have to be happy enough to see Australia first and with crossing the ditch to New Zealand. Who knows what international travel will look like in 12 months?
Low interest rates are great for home buyers and those with a mortgage but not so great for those like retirees who rely on interest to survive.
So, there’s a summary of the 2021/22 Federal Budget. How did you fare?
It seems like the general consensus is that people are doing it tough and need all the help they can get. This budget attempts to do that by throwing billions of dollars at a wide variety of issues and is basically trying to be everything to everybody. You could argue there are no real losers apart from housing, which surely must be seriously addressed at some stage. It is a generous budget that will pump billions of dollars into the economy.
On the Federal Labor Party. The TAB has them paying $2.40 to win the next federal election with the Coalition at $1.55. I don’t think they will have many takers at $2.40. Sorry but I just can’t see Anthony Albanese as the next Australian Prime Minister. Can you? Probably time for Labor to do some polling and to look at leadership alternatives to give a new leader some time before the next election.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not without flaw and it would be great to see an opposition leader that can spice things up leading into the next election. Opposition parties seem too willing to simply go with the flow in these times and offer limited alternatives. This is said with last year’s State Election firmly in mind. Opposition parties need to provide an alternative or people will just go with what they know.
The real concern is how these billions of dollars will be spent, that it results in real change and that the money filters through to those in need such as aged care and NDIS, victims of domestic violence, those suffering from mental health issues, suicide prevention, the unemployed, the homeless and families doing it tough. This is the real challenge ahead: rebuilding broken systems and working through the bureaucracy to drive value and outcomes. The implementation is where the success or failure will come from this budget.
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