The last week has been an action-packed time politically – with both parties releasing their budget proposals and Scott Morrison calling a general election in the early hours of Thursday morning. With Australians heading to the polls in a little over 6 weeks, we are breaking down the key aspects of both the major parties’ budget proposals.
The Liberal Parties budget proposal, for the second year in a row, included tax cuts for low and middle-income earners. Under a coalition government, a saving of $1,080 can be expected.
Labor’s budget reply matched the tax cuts for low to middle-income earners but vehemently opposed Liberal’s stage 2 and 3 tax cuts. This included raising the upper-income threshold from $90,000 to $120,000, followed by eradicating the 37 per cent tax bracket, which would see incomes from $45,000 to $200,000 paying a flat tax rate of 30 per cent.
The battle of congestion within our major cities will be fought with a $100 billion initiative for roads and light rail. The scheme will include $2bn for a fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne, which will cut travel times in half. There are also talks of other co-funded fast rail projects around the country.
Bill Shorten revealed that Labor has transport plans and projects ready to roll out in every state. He officially announced a $1.5bn upgrade to the Gateway Motorway from Bracken Ridge to Pine River.
With the price of property continuing to slump in Sydney and Melbourne, there is much to be done to improve consumer confidence in buying and selling and avoid a greater risk to Australia’s economic outlook.
While the Labor budget includes tax cuts which will directly impact Australia’s property market, the Liberal government did not discuss its plans to boost the housing market in detail, with little to help those prospective first home buyers who can’t quite afford to get their foot on the property ladder.
With the Government only setting aside $23 million for Christmas Island detention facilities, and nothing dedicated after July 2020, it seems they believe the facilities will cease to operate after their promised repeal of Medevac laws.
The Liberals have also allocated $39.5 million to the Regional Cooperation Agreement in Indonesian, which deals with people smugglers in the region.
In October 2018, Labor promised $500 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to improve processing and resettlement. However it’s worth noting, border security didn’t get a mention in Bill Shorten’s official budget reply.
Both Liberal and Labor committed to tax cuts for small business – with Liberal promising a tax rate of 25% by 2021 and Labor not going into specifics in their budget reply.
The Coalition’s Climate Solution $2bn fund will be spread over 15 years, not the initially promised 10, meaning the Government will only be spending $189 million a year. Altogether the Government set aside $3.5bn for their proposed climate solution package.
Labor, on the other hand, has made huge promises in response: outlining a plan for 50% renewables and 50% of new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030. In comparison, the current Government has only allocated $400,000 to develop a national electric vehicle program.
Both parties have made big promises in regards to early education. The Liberal Party has proposed 600 extra hours of preschool a year for children starting school in 2021.
Labor have radically pledged 600 hours of preschool education for three-year-olds in an effort to achieve better educational outcomes and provide further childcare for parents.
Mental health was a major focus of this year’s budget, with $732.6 million allocated. $461.6 million of the sum was specifically reserved for youth programs, which included 30 new headspace centres. There was also major spending for aged care – with plans to fund 10,000 aged care packages costing $282 million over 5 years, and $84 million set aside for carers respite.
Labor unveiled a $2.3bn package to support cancer sufferers by reducing out of pocket costs. MRI machines will be installed in regional areas and outer suburbs as a part of the initiative, in order to reduce travel for cancer sufferers. An extra $433 million will ensure visits to oncologists and surgeons are bulk billable through Medicare.
Words by Nell Matzen.