Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down his 2020 budget on Tuesday night, and the TL;DR is that Australia is facing a long, hard slog to post-pandemic recovery. Debts are expected to blow out to $966 billion by 2024. There’s a reason people are calling this the most important budget since World War II: we’ve never seen anything quite like the pandemic-recession-global warming shitstorm we find ourselves in.
“Australians have been tested like never before,” Frydenberg said.
“Flood, fires, drought and a global pandemic. So many Australians, through no fault of their own, are doing it tough. Lives have been lost, businesses have closed, jobs have gone. Our cherished way of life has been put on hold.”
There’s a lot to go through, but we’ve broken down the big things in the 2020-2021 Budget impacting young Aussies.
1. Wage subsidies with JobMaker
“This Budget is all about jobs,” Frydo said, and with good reason: more than a million people lost theirs in one month of the pandemic.
He’s introducing a JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme, which will subsidise the wages of young part-time workers to the tune of up to $200 per week.
Employees aged between 16 and 29 will have their wages subsidised by $200 per week (as in, the boss collects the money), while employees aged between 30 and 35 will be subsidised by $100 per week.
The employees must be hired between October 7, 2020 (a.k.a. tomorrow) and October 6, 2021, work an average of at least 20 hours per week, and have been on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or the Parenting Payment for at least one of the previous three months.
The government is also creating 10,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships, with the government subsidising up to 50% of their wages.
These measures are expected to create up to 45,000 jobs for young people.
The aim is clearly to move people off JobSeeker and into work, but is already being slammed by the Greens.
Party leader Adam Bandt said the credit scheme will do little more than fuel insecure, low paid work by “throwing money at big corporations” for hiring part time workers on minimum wage.
“McDonald’s will be rubbing its hands together, but it gives zero job security for anyone trying to rebuild their lives,” Bandt said.
It all comes in the face of the JobSeeker payment (formerly Newstart) being slashed by $300 per fortnight, to just $250.
“Tonight’s budget is a middle finger to the millions of people who are unemployed or under-employed right now, including more than half a million young people,” Bandt said.
“The government’s cutting JobSeeker to throw people into poverty – and their solution to the unemployment crisis is even worse.”
Previous modelling from the Greens found that young people entering the workforce now are looking to be $35,000 worse off over the next decade. Yikes.
2. Funding for higher education courses
The government is funding some 50,000 new highest education short courses in agriculture, health, IT, science and teaching.
It’s part of the plan to get more people into crucial jobs faster, but the details remain fairly scarce at this point.
3. Tax cuts (but the best ones are for the rich)
We already knew tax cuts were coming, but here’s exactly what’s what.
People earning between $45,000 and $90,000 will receive a tax cut of $1,080, on top of the $1,080 provided under the Low And Middle Income Earner Tax Offsets (LMITO).
Essentially, the government has brought forward its Stage 2 income tax cuts scheduled for mid 2022.
The 19% threshold has been permanently lifted from $37,000 to $45,000, while the 32.5% threshold has been lifted from $90,000 to $120,000.
Of course, the people who get the biggest tax cuts are those earning over $120,000.
If you want a more detailed tax cut breakdown (and of course you do), then head right this way.
4. The environment – a small win and a lot of shite
The good news: the government is giving $1.9 billion to support low emissions and renewable technologies, helping to lower emissions and address climate change.
The bad news: they’re unlocking “five key gas basins”, starting with the Beetaloo Basin in the NT and the North Bowen and Galilee Basins in QLD.
The bonkers news: Frydenberg made these two announcements practically in the same breath.
So, here it is. The only mention of climate in Aus' new budget speech by the Treasurer is immediately followed by the government's plans to expand the extraction and burning of fossil fuels (and not just any fossil fuel: the key driver of global emissions growth) #Budget2021 pic.twitter.com/6MNNlqf0jF
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) October 6, 2020
We’re staring down the barrel of almost $1 trillion in debt. We’re also reaching a point where climate change is becoming too expensive not to do anything about. And young people will bear the brunt of all of it.
Bit terrifying, really.
The government will also invest $250 million in recycling infrastructure, preventing more than 600,000 tonnes of waste ending up in landfill (seriously, our recycling system is borked), and creating a further 10,000 jobs.
5. Medicare-funded psychological services are increasing to 20 per year
Okay, this is excellent: the number of Medicare-funded psychological services will be doubled from 10 to 20 per year.
Just 10 sessions has always seemed wildly inadequate to anyone with serious mental health issues; doubling it is a great start in addressing the battering everyone’s mental health is taking. (Of course, keeping people out of poverty by not slashing JobSeeker could also be a good way to tackle mental health…. but I digress.)
More funding is also being provided for Lifeline, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline, bringing the government’s mental health spending to $5.7 billion this year.
There will be more to come in the coming weeks, once the Productivity Commission’s final report into mental health and interim report into suicide prevention are delivered.
6. Another 10,000 spots on the First Home Buyer scheme
The First Home Buyer loan deposit scheme has been extended with an additional 10,000 places allotted in 2020-2021. That’s nice, I guess?
It’s the scheme which allows newbie buyers to enter the market with just a 5% deposit and while avoiding lender’s mortgage, with the government acting as guarantor.
There wasn’t much in the way of housing in this year’s budget – understandably, a few other things take priority – but an additional 10,000 spots added to 20,000 spots this year is good.
7. Vaccines $$$$$
First of all: PLEASE let the COVID-19 vaccine not be that far off.
Second of all, the government is spending big here.
We already knew about the government’s $1.7 billion investment with Oxford University and the University of Queensland, to provide more than 84.8 million vaccine doses when (or if) (no, when) it arrives.
It’s now also announced $32 million for the Medical Research Future Fund over two years backdated to 2019-20, to look into new antiviral therapies and support clinical trials in COVID-19 treatments.
There’s also $10 million for the CSIRO, to fast-track the development of a vaccine in Australia.
Now, could all the very smart scientists currently working round-the-clock on a vaccine which may not even be found pls hurry up? Ta.Image: Getty