Image Source: The Conversation
By David McManus Jr | @davidmcmanusjr
As the nation prepares itself for the federal election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has provided little in terms of clarity as to when Australians will head to the polls, proposing three possible dates – May 11, 18 or 25.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg began his budget speech by announcing that “the budget is back in the black and Australia is back on track”.
The phrase “back in the black” refers to the $7.1 billion budget surplus expected by next year, which the government ensures will go towards aiding the country.
Despite the technical language and economic jargon, what is the bottom line for a university student in 2019/2020?
Frydenberg said that education is “the first defence of the nation” and is “critical to our prosperity, harmony and advancement as a country”.
- $17.7 billion will be directed towards Australian universities in 2019, with projections of that number growing to over $20 billion by 2024.
- The implementation of a $93.7 million scholarship initiative with the aim of enrolling over a thousand students at both TAFE and regional universities.
- Funding for schools is expected to reach $19.9 billion this year, as Commonwealth funding per student has increased from $3,755 since 2014 to $5,097 in 2019.
- Funding for schools will increase to $32.4 billion over the next ten years, equating to a 63 per cent rise.
- Along with pre-schools receiving $453 million over the course of the year, $30.2 million will be invested in the Local School Community Fund.
- Since September of 2013, an additional 1.2 million jobs have been created in Australia, with the hope for that number to climb further under continued economic strengthening.
- 80,000 apprenticeships will be generated through programs designed to assist skill shortages and connect workers with industry.
- Conduct a reform of VET through a National Skills Commission.
- Invest over $525 million into VET to further engage workers with the ten new hubs to be constructed.
- Place heavier cultural and economic significance on the role of education in the accumulation of skill.
- $309 million devoted towards diagnostic imaging, namely MRI scans, ultrasound and breast cancer screening, for those paying out-of-pocket, following the $379 million devoted to the matter since 2018.
- $187 million towards bolstering rebates for patients of over 119 GP services on the Medicare Benefits Scheme, starting on July 1 2019.
- $448 million will be involved in the construction of a new primary care funding plan catering to those with complex or chronic conditions.
- Funding for Heartkids Australia, as a preventative measure for heart disease.
- $1.3 billion to be directed towards the Community Health and Hospitals Program, with a focus on infrastructure, drug and alcohol treatment, preventative care and mental illness.
- $331 million for pharmaceutical access.
- Single Touch Payroll (STP) implementation, automatically sharing the income data of Centrelink recipients across government sectors, requiring recipients to check the accuracy of their data rather than manually calculate their income, estimated to save the economy $2.1 billion over the next five years.
- In 2024-2025 the reduction of the middle tax bracket from 32.5% to 30%.
- Abolition of the 37% tax bracket, meaning that 94% of Australians will be paying a marginal tax rate of 30%.
- Immediate tax relief will generate a net benefit of $1,080 for single earners and $2,160 for dual income families in the low to middle-income earners.
- Further tax relief for small businesses generating less than $50 million, with the immediate drop to 27.5% and the intent for the tax rate to drop to 25% by 2021-2022.
- No stated changes for Newstart recipients.
INFRASTRUCTURE & AGRICULTURE
- $5.7 billion will fund both urban and regional community development.
- An additional $200 million will further the Building Better Regions Fund, bringing the total cost to $1.5 billion, with the hope that it will support economic growth.
- Regional Australia will benefit from $220 million in funding for better internet and improved mobile services.
- $100 million will assist regional Australia’s airports in security and safety.
- Increased competition for national electricity costs through the greenlighting of twelve projects expected to bring down the prices for citizens.
- A $2 billion Climate Solutions fund is intended to meet the emissions target under the Paris Agreement, whilst simultaneously providing jobs to Aboriginal Australians and bolster regional economies.
- Support for micro-grids to help regional Australians with access to power.
- A $2.2 billion Road Safety Package.
- Urban Congestion Fund increased from $1 billion to $4 billion.
- South Australia ranked fourth in the infrastructure funding expenditure list, with four plans underway; the North-South Corridor, an SA Regional Roads Package, the aforementioned Urban Congestion Fund and “Roads of Strategic Importance”.
- Emphasis on sustainable energy with the Snowy 2.0 project receiving $1.4 billion in the form of an equity injection to assist with the project, which aims to increase Australia’s hydro-electric storage.
- The government intends to cut spending in this sector by more than $115 million, reducing foreign aid spending from $4.16 billion in this financial year to $4.04 billion from 2019/2020.
- The money taken out of foreign aid will instead be focused towards the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, the bulk of which will be given in the form of loans.
The 2019 budget follows the trend of 2018 in increasing the development, as well as the economic security and safety of regional Australia.
The Liberal National Party budget reinforces Australia’s standing as a mixed economy, with spending reflecting the strong standing of the economy.
Although the layout does not net a direct benefit for those on unemployment benefits or university students yet to earn as much as an employed graduate, the tax cuts will allow workers within the threshold to keep their money.
Infrastructure developments along with energy capabilities will ensure that students will be put at ease with mobility and access to technology in the near future.
The goals of both the Snowy 2.0 project and the billions devoted to the Paris Climate Accord demonstrate an acknowledgement and a promise for the many students concerned about climate change.
The neo-classical economic synthesis and tax cuts for working-class Australians are indicative of a return to form for the Liberal party but only time will tell whether they prove popular with the public.