Treasurer Jim Chalmers has announced Labor’s first full-year budget and brought the country back into the black for the first time in 15 years.
“The Budget we present to the Australian people tonight provides cost‑of‑living relief that is responsible and affordable and prioritises those most in need,” the Treasurer told the House of Representatives on Tuesday night.
Chalmers went on to highlight Medicare, disadvantage and exclusion, clean energy, and small business as key focus areas for the budget.
“These are the foundations on which our Government is building a stronger economy and a fairer society,” Chalmers said.
Easing cost of living pressures is front and centre for the government. A centrepiece $14.6 billion package including cheaper medications and energy bill relief makes up the bulk of the offerings.
“We understand Australians are under the pump right now,” Chalmers said.
Returning the budget to a surplus has been a key aim of the Labor government since they took office last year. Chalmers has returned a $4 billion surplus just two years after the budget was $139 billion in the red in 2021.
However, the budget, which outlines what the government will spend our tax money on over the next 12 months or so, is a fairly muted affair this time around. Many of the major announcements have already been made and there are few eye-catching policies.
Instead, given looming economic disasters such as the ongoing interest rate rises, high inflation, and falling wages, Chalmers has been focusing on “responsible” budget management.
The Greens have said that this approach is a “is a betrayal of the people who promised that no one would be left behind”.
“Cost of living measures in the budget don’t address the scale of the rental, housing and poverty crises the country is facing. Capital city rent increases last year were ten times the increase in rent assistance. There is no new money directly invested in building new social and affordable housing,” they said in a statement.
While there is some additional support for the most disadvantaged in society, many have been questioning whether it will make any real difference at all. In addition, for more well-off Aussies, it’s slim pickings this time around.
Here are all the major announcements from the Federal Budget 2023.
Federal Budget 2023 Highlights
Cost of Living Relief
Chalmers has made tackling the cost of living one of the main focuses of the 2023 Federal Budget. A $14.6 billion dollar package has been put together to help with everything from energy bills to healthcare over the next four years.
In a bid to make living cheaper but not drive inflation, Chalmers is having to walk a tight path.
Cost of living measures in the Federal Budget 2023 include energy bill relief. Working with state and territory governments, Chalmers is promising $500 subsidies to the energy bills of the five million most vulnerable people. 1.5 million small businesses will also receive $650 subsidies.
The base rate of JobSeeker, Austudy, and Youth Allowance has been raised by $40 per fortnight while the age at which people can access the higher JobSeeker rate has been lowered by five years. 52,000 people between the ages of 55 to 59 will get a $92.10 boost per fortnight.
The 1.1 million people current receiving rental assistance have also done well, securing a maximum 15% increase in those Commonwealth payments.
Aged care workers have also scored a previously confirmed win with a 15% pay rise along with leave entitlement and superannuation increases.
On healthcare, Chalmers has a number of big policies that have previously been discussed.
$2.2 billion will be spent on an overhaul of the Medicare system which will see GPs move away from the fee-for-service payment model. $3.5 billion will be funnelled into bulk-billing, giving doctors access greater pools of funding and providing free consultations to 11.6 million young people and Commonwealth concession card holders.
As he announced last month, hundreds of PBS-listed medications will be able to be dispensed in two-month supplies for the cost of one. These changes are set to come in September, effectively halving the cost of some medications for people.
Tobacco controls and harm reduction are getting a major shake-up, with disposable vapes to be banned, $264 million for national lung cancer screening programmes, and $141 million to tackle smoking amongst Indigenous communities.
$720 million has also been allocated for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a record boost to its funding that will be used to expand the workforce and its capacity.
Changes to Super
Another previously-announced change that many will be focusing on are the alterations to superannuation tax. The government is set to raise an additional $3.2 billion by increasing the tax paid on super balances over $3 million from 15% to 30%. The vast majority of Australians will be unaffected by this.
The budget includes $28 billion in measures to tackle the teacher shortage and keep professionals in the industry.
Up to $40,000 each could be made available to 5,000 teaching students if they stay in the classroom, as part of an election promise to increase teacher numbers.
$10 million will also be spent on a marketing campaign to recruit new teachers.
In a separate move, $72.6 million is expected to be allocated for worker re-training programmes that focus on reskilling people for jobs in regional and remote areas.
The Environment and Climate Change
The government announced on Friday that it will be creating a new agency, the National Net Zero Authority, to help individuals and companies in heavy-polluting industries like coal, gas, and certain kinds of manufacturing to transition to new, cleaner jobs. The new authority will be kickstarted with a $400 million package.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science, headquartered in Townsville, will also be getting a $163.4 million refurb and new equipment. This is alongside a $14.8 million bundle to protect marine habitats and remove waste from waterways.
As previously announced, $146.1 million will be spent by the Federal Government on accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles. This will include funding for EV charging infrastructure.
National Anti-Corruption Commission Funding
The budget also contains funding for the new National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
The commission was a Labor election promise that aims to weed out dodgy dealings in politics at a federal level. All states and territories have a similar body but politicians have been shrinking from instating one at a national level.
Legislation was passed in November last year to establish the NACC and the budget contains $262.6 million to fund it.