The summary of the federal budget for 2022 tells us who will win and who will lose.
Bob Katter, the governor general, job seekers, seniors, and people who listen to Double J – The federal budget affects everyone, but some have done better than others.
The first budget of the new federal government hasn't had too many surprises. As expected, families and health care have gotten a lot out of the plan to cut down on fraud and waste. On the other hand, tax cheats and dams have had to pay the price.
Here is a list of who won and who lost in the October budget.
Parents of babies and young kids
Parents and children will both benefit from the government's decision to spend $4.7 billion over four years on cheaper childcare. The goal is to get more people to work.
The government has promised to spend $204 million on a "well-being boost" for students after the pandemic. Schools can use the money for a variety of things, like helping students with their mental health, going on trips, and doing sports and social activities. There is also $271 million to improve ventilation and air quality in public schools and make bigger repairs.
Labor has set a goal of building 1 million new homes over the next five years, starting in the middle of 2024, when it is expected that there will be more space. It includes 20,000 affordable homes, and through the housing Australia future fund returns, another 30,000 affordable and social homes will be built. Up to 15% of the purchase price of a home will be backed by the federal government for up to 10,000 first-time buyers in the regions.
Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the maximum cost of general prescriptions has gone down for the first time in 75 years. From 1 January 2023 the PBS general co-payment will be lowered from $42.50 to $30 a script, saving about 3.6 million Australians $190m in out-of-pocket costs a year. Also, $1.4 billion will be given to PBS for new and changed listings.
Nearly 170 million dollars have been set aside to pay 500 frontline workers to help women and children who are victims of family, domestic, or sexual violence. Almost $40 million will be spent to increase the escaping violence payment, and $25 million will be spent over five years to test out new ways to deal with the behavior of people who cause domestic violence.
The income limit for the seniors' health card will go up from $61,284 to $90,000 for single people and from $98,054 to $144,000 (combined) for couples. This will cost almost $70 million. It will go from $7,800 to $11,800 before a pensioner has to give up some of what they earn. And $74 million will be given to encourage retirees to move into smaller homes. For example, the assets test exemption for the sale of the main home will be extended from 12 months to 24 months.
The world around us (sort of)
In the October budget, there are some good things for the environment. The Climate Change Authority will get $42.6 million in funding when it comes back. Through Rewiring the Nation, $20 billion will be spent to improve Australia's power grid, which will get 10,000 km of new transmission lines. Regional industries will move toward decarbonization with the help of $1.9 billion. Reducing emissions from transportation will get $500 million, and community batteries and solar banks will get $300 million.
Islands in the Pacific
With the new Pacific engagement visa, people from Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste will be able to get up to 3,000 permanent jobs each year. When sponsored, Pacific Australia Labour Mobility participants who are working in Australia for a long time will also be able to bring their partners and children with them. Over the next four years, the federal government will also give $1.4 billion in extra aid, with $900 million going to the Pacific and $470 million to south-east Asia.
Double J listeners
The ABC will get $83.7 million over four years to make up for the money it lost when the previous Coalition government put a freeze on annual raises. The ABC's digital music channel Double J, which is for older Triple J listeners, will get an extra $500,000. This money will go toward a study to see if it is possible to bring Double J to FM frequencies.
Taking a hit
The ATO's Tax Avoidance Taskforce will be given a lot more money in the 2022 budget so it can crack down on multinationals and individuals who try to avoid paying taxes. In order to close tax loopholes, a multinational tax integrity package will bring in about $1 billion over four years, while a shadow economy and personal income tax will bring in $3.7 billion over the same time period.
The head of state
Labor has cut the $16 million from the last budget that was set aside for the Future Leaders Forum. The governor general, David Hurley, lobbied Scott Morrison personally for this money.
There were almost no new arts projects announced, and most of the ones that were were small and involved redirecting funds left over from the Covid response for the sector or from other parts of the arts portfolio. From 2022–23 to 2025–26, costs for the arts and cultural heritage sub-function are expected to go down by 20.6% in real terms. The government said that it is "working on a national cultural policy" to fulfill its promise.
Trains that go fast
For the Sydney-to-Newcastle high-speed rail project, there is $500 million for corridor acquisition and early works. However, this is only a small part of what the project needs to move forward.
There is also $18 million for the high-speed rail authority. However, unless many billions of dollars are put into high-speed rail, it doesn't look like it will go anywhere quickly.
The member for Kennedy is a big supporter of the Queensland dam project and has said in the past that it would decide which party he would vote for if there was a tie in parliament. The Morrison government promised to do a feasibility study for the $5.4 billion Hells Gate Dam, but Labor has saved money in the budget by not going forward with the project. The government has put off spending $900 million on other water projects, like the Dungowan dam and pipeline, the Emu Swamp dam and pipeline, the Hughenden irrigation scheme, and the Wyangala Dam wall-raising project.
Australia's north (relatively)
The Northern Territory, the Pilbara region of Western Australia, north and central Queensland, and other parts of northern Australia were set to gain a lot from the Energy Security and Regional Development Plan, which was announced by the Coalition before. This program will lose $6.4 billion, leaving only $672.7 million to be spent over the next seven years.
Before the election, the Australian Council of Social Service and other groups hoped that Labor would promise to raise the amount of money given to people who are looking for work. But Labor was quick to say that the payment, which is still well below the poverty line in Henderson, would not go up.