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June 18, 2024

The 2024 budget wash up

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Budget wash up
Cloudcatcher Media.

It’s impossible to make everyone happy on budget night, but Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ 2024 effort has upset more than most, as the government struggles to avoid inflation rebounding, make more things in Australia, and do something about the cost of living.

This is the third budget of the Albanese government and the second in surplus, which won’t be much comfort for the millions struggling to survive on the edges of the economy, although Labor’s bean counters claim to be doing their best with the available resources.

As promised, most Australians will get a tax cut, and these will be a bit more equitable than those proposed by Scott Morrison. There will be more money for community legal centres. The price of medicines under the PBS will be temporarily frozen. Households will each receive a $300 rebate on their energy bills over the next twelve months (whether this help is needed or not).

HECS indexation will be slightly less onerous, Commonwealth Rent Assistance will become slightly more generous, and life will be better than ever for those who dig stuff up and export it, with fossil fuel subsidies growing well beyond spending on renewables, and the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax being revised down even further (tobacco tax raised nine times as much in the last financial year).

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers. Supplied.

With unemployment likely to rise, along with interest rates, and the global economy looking far from healthy, immigration has been cut back.

There’s no new money heading in the direction of mental health (apart from virtual consultations), emergency food support, or Indigenous communities.

Economy or ecology?

Nature has been ignored in this budget, and will apparently have to look after itself, with no significant additional funding to deal with serious invasive pests like fire ants, or to prevent more native species sliding into extinction.

Instead, the budget suggests that critical minerals are the future, never mind that these will end up in high-tech weapons as well as low emissions vehicles, and those likely to profit most will be Gina Rinehart and Twiggy Forrest, who hardly need more government support.

Perhaps renewable hydrogen, quantum computing and ‘green’ metals will save us all’? Unfortunately there’s no Biden-style money for large scale household electrification.

Once again, the government ignored the expert advice of the Independent Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which suggested that income support payments could be lifted substantially without affecting inflation.

Independent senator for the ACT, David Pocock, said that while there were some good things in the 2024 budget, it had a ‘gaping hole at its heart’, which left many vulnerable Australians behind.

Many of the benefits of the 2024 budget, such as the previously announced housing loan package, will take years to play out, and depend on the Albanese government being re-elected.

Cloudcatcher Media.

Uncosted dog whistling

Peter Dutton used his budget reply speech to indulge in a bit of uncosted dog whistling, saying that further migration cuts and a ban on foreign investment in housing would solve many of the problems confronting Australians.

Apparently migrants are also the reason roads are congested, and it’s hard to get a doctor’s appointment, never mind that Australia’s health and aged care sectors would likely collapse if all the migrant workers suddenly departed, not to mention all the other industries who are crying out for skilled employees.

The other complexities around the issue, such as the balance between permanent migrants and those here on temporary visas, and the effects on the university sector, have been ignored or obfuscated, with Dutton also recently proposing to let international students work many extra hours while they’re here (apparently it’s okay for foreigners to deliver Uber Eats).

Much like the Coalition’s nuclear policy, these latest thought bubbles have been made in the absence of any detailed deliberation, but are guaranteed to drag the ‘debate’ ever lower. America here we come!

David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

Long ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum.

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  1. No you can’t please everyone and none, it seems, are generally less pleased than those found on the pages of the Echo.

    At lease there’s some examination here of the Opposition reply. Along with all the justifiable cries of whistleblowing, it seems amazing that no one seems to have looked at the numbers. It seems that the Opposition seems to see a 1:1 correlation between new arrival and houses required!

    Especially with the natural rebalancing of numbers after the pandemic restricted years, the Coalition’s figures of 928,000 people brought into the country in the last two years – as opposed to 265,000 houses built – sound compelling. Few of our new arrivals however require a whole house to themselves – some are families, join family on family reunion visas or enter shared accommodation. The figures quoted represent 3.5 migrants to each new house built.

    It’s clearly desirable to do more than tread water – especially given the shameful inertia on social and affordable housing in the Coalition decade – but similarly, the calculation that reducing the migrant intake by 45,000 (185,000 down to 140,000) will free up more than 40,000 houses is certainly optimistic.

    How many houses wouldn’t, in the past two years, or won’t in the future be constructed without our skills targeted migration program. Migration has always been a handy target for blame shifting. It used to be, “they took our jobs! ” until we had a labor shortage. Now it’s “they took our houses!” – but we can’t build enough, quickly enough.

    • Lizardbreath may I add Dudton’s other ‘housing for Aussies booster’ , to no longer allow foreigners to buy home sin Australia , that’s around 2,000 homes a year. Wacky Doo!
      But the message really is all about ‘The Other’, to keep punching down on those non-Aussies ‘stealing away’ homes from Aussies.

    • Blame shifting….

      Fact is – successive Govts and Politicians FROM BOTH MAJOR AND ALL PARTIES have completely dropped the ball on housing over the last 40 years Lizzo!

      BOTH Govts have been addicted to unsustainable spending (like drunken sailors), while importing people (and the economic numbers with them – see “Ponzi Scheme”) and failing in their proper duty to invest in infrastructure to cope with the numbers, particularly the most important (aside from water), which is public housing. There was public housing extensively in just about every town up the east coast of Australia, even those lucky enough to snag one on the Northern Rivers, even Byron had plenty. One of my best mates grew up in one in the Bay, was never a social issue. Most of those homes were sold over time by Govts of the day. You couldn’t buy one now for less than a few million if you’re lucky enough to have the money.

      Politicians try to sell us solutions to fix the problems they create.

      You are kidding yourself if you believe one party is better than the other on this…completely kidding.

      • Rather than just reciting the mantra Stevie Wonder, have a look at the actual figures.

        Independentaustralia.net reported in 2021: “ Last week the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released data on housing starts in the private and public sectors, from 1983 to September 2021. Bob Hawke’s Government built an average of 12,563 houses for low-income Australians to rent or buy in each of its eight years. This collapsed to an appalling 4,399 per year through the hapless Howard period when the rich did very nicely while the poor were neglected. The Rudd Government almost doubled that to 8,615. It has been downhill from there.”

        A graph you could construct yourself with blue and red highlighters shows public houses built per year per 100 million of population:
        “Keating – 504
        Howard – 227
        Rudd – 399
        Gillard – 198
        Abbott – 156
        Turnbull – 114
        Morrison – 121”

        And yes there has been a perfect storm – less public housing and soaring prices in the private market. The latter has been strongly attributed by Alan Kohler to the halving of the capital gains tax (introduced by the Howard Govt late ‘90s). I’d add to that Howard Government changes to superannuation that also made investment in property very attractive.

        The Albanese Government has locked in expenditure on public housing with a 10 billion dollar investment in a housing future fund – among lots of other things.

        I know you’re not kidding Steve O – you just don’t think!

        • Mr Lizardbreath, when I read some of the mindless negativity some of these so called “Green inspired experts” espouse to in this forum, I often can’t make up my mind whether to LOL or weep on total despair. Sadly I mostly conclude that they’re not joking and are actually fair-dinkum, seriously. Jim Chalmers just handed down a budget that gives households a $300 rebate on power bills, a tax cut for EVERY taxpayer, wiping $3 billion in student HECS debt and fixing indexation, investing in additional bulk-billed Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, freezing the price of common medicines, kickstarting the construction of more homes in every part of the country, paying superannuation on top of Paid Parental Leave, delivering the first back-to-back increase to Rent Assistance in 30 years. And have set in motion the biggest transition to a clean alternative energy source Australia will probably ever see, and all these ideological misfits can do is whinge and whine and criticize and complain, seriously they must think that the Labor Govt just has to flick a switch and ten years of Coalition incompetence is wiped out; Wake up you ideological clowns, there is a real world out there.

          • But Keith, we wouldn’t know it was our Green comrades if it was any other way.

            I suspect they’d like the Coalition back. It’s not as good for their electoral chances if Labor is in office and doing a good job.

          • Keith… any reason why the Labor government just decided to extend
            The life of a Coal fired power plant ?

          • Mr Barrow, most people even with average intelligence would know the answer to that question. But just for you I will enlighten you, until the transition to renewables is complete and supply is guaranteed a back up with either coal or gas is required, a responsible and intelligent Minns Labor Govt would know this. Anything else I can help you with Mr Barrow?

          • Barrow, the answer is very simple, it is the ALP repaying their fossil fuel industry masters.
            All those $’shundredsofthousands Fossil Fuel Industry ‘donations’ to the ALP must deliver a ROI.

        • So Gillard was twice as bad (or half as good) as Rudd and the stand out is Turnbull.

          Good for you – It must be some sort of self assurance mechanism to hang on to a belief that your preferred political party is superior to the other 🙂

          But it must be really difficult when someone like the current Qld labor premier agrees with Dutton’s immigration policy recommendations.

          The “my side is better than yours” thing isn’t really a thing so much anymore for younger crew.
          Hence why primary votes to majors was at an all time low last Fed election and independents did so well, “surprisingly” well for some.

          • You wouldn’t be cherry- picking the data here would you Stevie – re Gillard? I think she had a bit on her plate, what with Rudd, Abbott the media and the minor matter of the GFC.

            Nonetheless her minority government managed to pass a record number of bills and initiatives including the National Broadband Network (reversed by Abbott, schools funding following the Gonski Review and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

            I’m not really concerned about differing opinions within a party. Surely someone of your penetrating intellect would see that as healthy? I just know what I think of Dutton’s posturing.

            But there you go again getting condescending and personal when caught out with your “facts”. I mightn’t be one of the “younger crew” but, as I constantly remind our friend Joachim, I know voting isn’t like attending a football match. Deciding who to back is a bit more involved with considerations of underlying philosophy, values and past performance.

            So tell me – what is the younger crew’s “thing”? Following every zeitgeist instead of keeping informed? Voting informal because you’re above it all and it’s all too tedious? Believing anyone who tells/promises you everything you want to hear?

  2. David cost of living pressures..well when you have
    Woolworths & Coles smashing customers..
    Airlines Once again as the above two
    Have no real competitors..return from gold coast
    Melbourne 5 days notice Jetstar 550 return
    Rex 300 Return..just absolute 💯 gauging !
    Senate inquiries..out of touch CEO’S most just
    Answer to Blackrock etc.. so toothless tigers
    Unfortunately the sitting Government to bring this cost of living pressures downwards..!
    Not to mention the hotel’s taking the piss
    Charging almost 20 bucks for a Pint ..blaming
    The government for 6 monthly tax rises..
    Yet RSL’s bowling clubs less than half the price ..
    Years ago the sitting government put a tax on
    Mixed spirits ‘Alcopop tax ‘ those taxed drinks
    Increased by almost double ..yet 18 months later
    The tax was meant to be removed ..
    Yet the Hotel’s bottle shops etc ..just left those
    Taxed prices as is..what is even worse is that
    The cans reduced from 375mm to 320mm
    Alcohol content also was reduced from 8%
    To 4.9% with further price rises ..ripped off
    And not to mention Fuel prices rising by almost
    1.20 a litre …blaming conflicts.. ripped off
    in all consumption areas that most affect cost
    Of living pressures…”not happy Jan”

    • Barrow, don’t stick with just the Woolies and the Coles for your trolley shop. The Aldi is open for your business.
      On the alcohol, higher price isn’t all bad news. Less consumption will lead to overall better health and less of the all the bad impacts of alcohol fuelled behaviour.

      • Thanks Joachim agree.. Australia’s Alcohol consumption is huge and it’s affects on families is devastating..yes Aldi is on my list .

  3. Absolutely crazy to not give more funds to fire ant control. If we give up, or become complacent about their spread, it will cost billions when we acknowledge their devastating effects

  4. Labor, damned if they do and damned if they don’t?
    Chalmers has delivered his second budget surplus after 9 wasted years of LNP Noalition stagnation, incompetence and economic policy catastrophe that resulted in a trillion dollars debt and virtually nothing to show for it.
    Dutton and his policy void Noalition leftovers in response have climbed to the top of the high dive board, to attempt to execute a distractive and spectacular racist dog whistle swan dive, but has failed to notice that Chalmers had previously drained the water from the pool!
    The take on the budget, Labor surplus, LNP splat!
    Maybe Dutton can scrape something off the bottom of the pool, but it’s not going to pretty?
    Have you seen the LNP Noalition proposed nuclear reactor locations, instant 25% drop in real estate value for your surrounding suburbs?


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