Mixed reactions to Federal Budget

There has been mixed reaction on the Central Coast to the 2020 Federal budget, handed down on October 6 by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who said it is “all about jobs”.

The Coast’s business community has welcomed a raft of measures aimed at getting people back into employment and offering more support to business, but some are saying incentives to employers to hire people aged under 35 are leaving many Coasties in a dire situation, with the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement set to expire on December 31 and the JobKeeper payment to cease after next March.

The Association of Independent Retirees said retirees who partly or fully fund their own retirement have been overlooked and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery foundation said the budget provides too little investment in nursing and midwifery and even less for aged care workers.

But taxpayers, roadbuilders and home renovators were among the big winners, with the Government to bring forward its second stage of tax cuts, back-dated to June 30.

The tax cuts are estimated to leave people earning $45,000 some $1,080 better off and people earning more than $90,000 with an extra $2,565.

Other major commitments included a $14B commitment to fast-track infrastructure projects, including bringing forward $7.5B of spending on road and rail projects, a new $2B investment in road safety upgrades and $1B for local councils to upgrade roads and footpaths.

There will also be $688M added to the HomeBuilder scheme, which gives cash grants for people to renovate or build new homes.

The budget deficit blew out to $86B in 2019/20 and is predicted to hit $214B in 2020/21.

Australia’s net debt is forecast to climb to over $700B, or around 35 per cent of national GDP, this year and peak at just under $1 trillion (over 45 per cent of GDP) by June 2024.

There was also some good news for older Australians on the Aged Pension and various welfare recipients with two lots of supplements on the way – $250 in December and $250 in March next year.

In an attempt to address the post-COVID rise in youth unemployment, the Government’s new JobMaker Hiring Credit is forecast to generate 450,000 jobs for young people over the next year and comes on top of the $1B JobTrainer program announced in August.

Under the scheme, employers will receive $200 a week for any new hires aged 16-30 and $100 a week for any new worker aged 30-35.

New employees must have been on JobSeeker and be given at least 20 hours of work a week to be eligible.

The Budget did not, however, increase or extend payments to JobSeeker recipients as many had hoped – the coronavirus supplement, currently $250 a fortnight, will end at the end of December, returning the benefit to its pre-pandemic rate of around $40 per day.

Another sobering feature was the forecast that Australia’s net overseas migration level will fall from around 154,000 in 2019-20 to -72,000 in 2020-21 due primarily to travel restrictions.

It is widely recognised that net migration growth has a key source of national GDP growth and ever-rising house prices over the past 20-30 years.

The Budget assumes a return of international students and permanent migrants in its forward estimates, but some analysts have questioned whether souring foreign relations with China may have a more enduring impact on international student numbers.

CCN Special Report

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