Treasurer: Responsible budget in uncertain times

FEDERAL Treasurer, The Hon Jim Chalmers MP says the Albanese Labor Government’s first Budget is responsible, right for the times, and begins to build a better future for Australia.

Mr Chalmers said the Budget delivers on our commitments including:

Responsible cost-of-living relief which doesn’t put additional pressure on inflation.

Targeted investments to build a stronger, more resilient, and more modern economy.

Beginning the long-term task of Budget repair.

“A deteriorating global outlook, high inflation and energy prices, and rising interest rates make this a time of great challenge for Australians, with impacts on the economy and the Budget,” Mr Chalmers said.

“Our best defence against this combination of challenges is a Budget that is solid, sensible and suited to the conditions we confront. 

“The Budget implements our commitments to the Australian people to deliver cheaper childcare, fee-free TAFE, cleaner and cheaper energy, and a future made in Australia.”

Mr Chalmers took a swipe at the previous government in his statement.

“After years of wasted opportunities and warped priorities under the former Government – that delivered energy chaos, stagnant wages, a skills crisis, and a trillion dollars of debt with not enough to show for it – this Budget marks an end to the wasted decade,” he said. 

“It confronts the challenges that have been ignored for too long and seizes the opportunities that won’t wait any longer.”

The Government is delivering a $7.5 billion, five-point plan that delivers targeted cost-of-living relief for households without adding to inflation.

“Our plan puts some money in people’s pockets, boosts productivity and grows the economy. It’s carefully targeted, carefully timed, and delivers an economic dividend,” Mr Chalmers said.

The plan includes: 

• Cheaper childcare for more than 1.2 million families.

• Progressively expanding Paid Parental Leave to six months by 2026.

• Cheaper medicines by reducing the PBS maximum general co-payment to $30 a script.

More affordable housing – including a new National Housing Accord to build more affordable and well-located homes for Australians.

• Getting wages moving again – including supporting the increase to the minimum wage; supporting a wage rise for aged care workers; fixing the bargaining system; and investing in the capabilities of our people and the capacity of our economy.

The Treasurer said the Budget begins to build a stronger, “more resilient and more modern” economy with investments in:

• Fee-free TAFE and vocational education places – 180,000 places in 2023 as part of a $1 billion agreement with the States and Territories.

• 20,000 new university places over the next two years for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

• Advancing gender equality, including leading a national push to close the gender pay gap.

• Investments in cleaner and cheaper energy and transmission networks through our Powering Australia Plan and Rewiring the Nation.

• A future made in Australia with the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

• An investment pipeline of more than $120 billion in transport infrastructure over the next decade.

• Expanding access to the NBN and improving mobile coverage.

• Supporting small business with energy efficiency grants and tailored mental health and financial counselling programs.

• Allowing older Australians to keep more of their pension when they work.

• More funding and more staff to slash the visa backlog to help employers fill labour shortages.

• Safeguarding our farmers and primary producers from biosecurity threats.

• Improving our disaster resilience and preparedness.

• Investments to protect our precious environment, including stepping up our defence of the Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Chalmers said this was investing in what’s important to Australians

“Because of our responsible Budget management, we can pay for the things that Australians value most, including:

• Delivering our commitments for better health care and better aged care. 

• Repairing the National Disability Insurance Scheme and securing its future.

• Growing defence funding beyond two per cent of GDP over the forward estimates and strengthening our relationships in the region.

• A record Commonwealth investment over six years to end violence against women and children.

• Investments to Close the Gap and begin preparations for a referendum on a Voice to Parliament.

• Investing in better support for our veterans.

• Establishing the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

“This Budget begins to build a better future – with more opportunities for more people, in more parts of Australia,” The Treasurer said. 

The Budget documents are available on the website.