Here’s What You Need To Know About The Budget

It’s an election year, which means the Budget the government delivered yesterday is less of a budget and more of a pitch to voters. And, considering the fact that the Coalition is in the dumps when it comes to polling, with most people treating a Labor victory as almost a given at this point, they really went hard on this one.

It’s a Budget targeted to win the suburbs back to the Coalition after a horror few years of instability, backstabbing, and not getting a whole lot done.

But how does it affect you, dear PEDESTRIAN.TV reader? Well, if Scott Morrison isn’t able to win voters over in the May election, it won’t affect you at all. But let’s humour them for the moment. This is your BUDGET EXPLAINER!

Tax cuts! Tax cuts! Tax cuts!

The centrepiece of the Budget – and indeed the centrepiece of any vote-craving election year Budget – is tax cuts.

If the Coalition remains in power, and is able to pass it through the Senate, taxpayers earning up to $126,000 per year are being promised some form of tax relief.

The government already announced last year it was going to give people earning up to $90,000 an instant tax cut of up to $530. That’s now being doubled for singles (up to $1,080) and up to $2,160 for double-income families. These tax offsets flatten out for those earning between $90,000 and $126,000.

But there’s more! Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also announced that the government would reduce the 32.5% tax rate to 30% by July 2024, which would affect everyone earning between $45,000 and $200,000. Obviously, a 2024 pitch is very much in the future – but they’re certainly trying to sweeten the deal.

The ABC has a nice little calculator if you want to figure out exactly how much your tax will be cut if the Coalition manages to hold on to power through 2024.

Nearly! A! Budget! Surplus!

Let’s get two things straight right now: both parties have promised they’re bringing the Budget into the black for years, and as yet no one has managed to actually make it happen.

Oh, and a third thing: who gives a shit. It’s not as important or vital to the functioning of the nation as people like to tell you it is. A government budget is not the same as a household budget.

But anyway. Some economists thought this Budget might show a surplus, but it hasn’t – it’s a $4.2 billion deficit. But Frydenberg says under the Coalition’s stewardship we’d have a $7.1 billion surplus next year, but that also depends on things wildly out of the government’s control, like the global economy.

Money for Queensland!

Queensland is going to be a huge election battleground, and the Coalition knows it. As such, the Budget promises money for Queensland. Simple!

$2.6 billion will be spent on the state in the 2020-21 period, largely on regional transport and infrastructure. That’s a little deal-sweetener for the LNP voters up there who are thinking about jumping ship to Labor in May.

More bullshit for welfare recipients

Despite the firestorm of criticism around how the government has gone about their much-maligned Centrelink debt recovery program, the Budget makes no concessions on that front.

The Coalition wants to introduce a new data-matching system to further police ‘overpayments’, which they anticipate will save the government $2.1 billion over five years.

Additionally, they’re expanding their controversial cashless welfare card to cover all welfare recipients in the Northern Territory, as well as select communities in Cape York in Queensland. If that sounds like deliberate targeting of Indigenous people receiving income support to you… well, you’re not wrong!

Investment in mental health

This is a positive. The government announced a further $461 million investment into youth mental health services, with a focus on suicide prevention.

Within that, there’s $152 million for Headspace services and $111 million for new Headspace centres.

On top of that, $5 million has been earmarked for suicide prevention services targeted specifically at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Infrastructure spending galore

A big, chunky part of the budget is $100 billion on infrastructure projects over ten years. That’s roads, bridges, dams, ports, carparks – the works, baby!

Money is being spread out across multiple states, especially in New South Wales, Victoria, and – as mentioned above – Queensland.

One interesting aspect in there: a $2 billion promise for a fast rail link between Geelong and Melbourne. That’s loooooong term, of course.

Bad news for tax avoiders

The government expects to claw back about $3.6 billion from multinationals and high-wealth individuals who have been dodging tax. Presumably if you are reading PEDESTRIAN.TV you are not among those people, but who knows?

A billion dollars will be dumped into the Tax Avoidance Taskforce, as well as $42 million over four years to the ATO for nailing tax cheats.

Lots of money for… killing ants???

Look, it’s not a particularly huge part of the Budget overall, but you have to admit that the slaughter of multiple ant species figures more highly than in previous years.

Money has been allocated to eradicate the imported red fire ant, which causes damage to ecosystems and also bites people. Further money has been set aside to fight the yellow crazy ant in the Queensland tropics, and Argentine ants on Norfolk Island.

Basically: ants are fucked. Get rid of them.

$150 in iTunes vouchers and a six month Anytime Fitness membership if you vote Liberal

Image result for itunes card

Okay I completely made this one up. But it’s the general vibe of the Budget.

There’s more!

As with every Budget, there’s lots of smaller bits floating around which you may or may not find interesting. If you’re looking for a very deep dive, I recommend The Guardian‘s writeup, or the simple visual winners/losers take over at the ABC.