What we know about the Budget so far

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Treasurer Scott Morrison says measures to be announced Tuesday’s budget will help ease housing affordability

Do you know what to look for in the Budget?


THE countdown to tomorrow’s Budget is on, so here’s our cheat’s guide to everything you should know in advance to sound like an expert on the day.

The Federal Government has already made some key announcements about education, housing and welfare that could affect you — but come back at 7.30pm tomorrow to see all the important hidden cuts and spending.

Here’s what we know so far:

First-home buyers will benefit from a new type of savings account, but there will be no changes to negative gearing or capital gains tax concessions.

First-home buyers will benefit from a new type of savings account, but there will be no changes to negative gearing or capital gains tax concessions.Source:istock

HOUSING

• First-home buyers will benefit from a new type of savings account that allows them to salary-sacrifice contributions towards a deposit from their pre-tax pay. They won’t be able to dip into superannuation, as was suggested earlier this year.

Retired couples who downsize by selling their homes will be offered exemptions from new superannuation caps of $100,000 in after-tax contributions and $1.6 million in retirement accounts.

A “ghost house tax” will be imposed on foreign investors who leave their properties vacant, a practice known as “land banking”.

• A “bond aggregator model” will enable loans to community housing associations at lower long-term rates to encourage investment.

The Government has ruled out doing much to reduce demand, including changes to negative gearing or capital gains tax concessions.

HEALTH

The four-year freeze on Medicare rebates will lift this July for some GP visits, extending to specialists and medical procedures over the next three years. A standard GP consultation, which has remained at $37.05 since 2013 when Labor brought in the freeze, will rise to $40. It could cost taxpayers up to $400 million a year.

It is part of a multibillion-dollar 10-year “national health plan” hoped to counteract Labor’s “Mediscare” campaign.

• It will include extra support for hospitals including $730 million for Tasmania’s Mersey Hospital, $6 million for prostate cancer nurses and medical research and preventative healthcare with an emphasis on mental health.

• Doctors will be encouraged to prescribe more generic brand medicine in an effort to save up to $1.8 billion over five years.

The Treasurer has indicated there will be a health announcement in his second budget.

EDUCATION

• An extra $19 billion will be injected into school funding over the next decade under David Gonski’s needs-based model, originally championed by Labor.

• Funding will increase from $17.5 billion this year to $22.1 billion by 2021 and $30.6 billion by 2027.

• The model will not discriminate between public, private and Catholic schools, so 24 of the nation’s wealthiest schools will experience “negative growth” in their funding and 350 “slower growth” — but more than 9400 will benefit.

• The package is still $22 billion less than Labor has promised to spend on schools over the decade to 2027.

• It will be paid for by last week’s announcement to cut university funding by $2.8 billion over four years.

• University students will face a 7.5 per cent tuition fee hike, phased in over four years starting in 2018. The maximum increase for a four-year, government-subsidised degree will be $3600, with a maximum total cost of $50,000. A subsidised six-year medical degree will cost a maximum of $75,000.

• Graduates will start repaying tuition fee loans at a lower income threshold of $42,000 instead of $51,957, high income earners (over $119,882) will pay 10 per cent of their income instead of eight per cent.

• Income thresholds for repayment will be indexed to the consumer price index instead of the faster rising average weekly wages, which means higher repayments to the government over the longer term.

• Universities will have to meet a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend, and funding will depend on performance.

Scott Morrison has promised a helping hand to reduce the cost of living pressures in his budget.

WELFARE

• There will be new measures to ensure benefits recipients “fulfil their obligations”, by meeting with employment groups, for example, or taking part in “work for the dole” schemes.

• Centrelink recipients could be restricted from buying alcohol, gambling or withdrawing cash.

• Up to $13 billion of 2014 “zombie cuts” to welfare and education will be dumped but replaced with the above $2.8 billion cuts to high education and $2.4 billion alternative cuts to welfare, passed by the Senate in March.

• These include abolishing end of year supplements for Family Tax Benefit Benefits, making the unemployed wait four weeks before receiving the dole and stripping carbon tax compensation from new welfare recipients.

• Up to 3.5 million people on the age and disability support pensions and parenting payment will receive one-off cash payments to help them cover their energy bills by June 30 — $75 for singles and $125 for couples.

• A $5.5 million awareness campaign will target anti-vaxxers, and from July, Family Tax Benefit A payments will be reduced by $726 a year for each child who hasn’t been immunised.

• Another zombie cut of $55 million over three years from community legal centres has already been restored.

INFRASTRUCTURE

• The Government will bring forward most of its $50 billion infrastructure program from last year to “fast-track” projects it sees as “good debt” rather than “bad debt”.

• Sydney’s $6 billion second airport at Badgerys Creek will be bankrolled by the Coalition after Sydney Airport declined the project.

• At least $1 billion will be put towards the inland rail connecting Brisbane with Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, which will be built in partnership with a private company for an estimated $10 billion.

• Expect the further roll-out of the Government’s City Deals between all levels of government and the private sector to develop urban areas, starting with $100 million for Townsville.

BUSINESS AND MEDIA

• The first tranche of the 10-year plan was passed in April giving businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million a tax cut. The Coalition wants to extend this to all businesses.

• Oil and gas companies could lose some tax deductions.

• Gambling advertising will be banned before 8.30pm during live sporting events, and for five minutes before and after the start of play.

• The $130 million annual licence fee for broadcasters will be scrapped in favour of a $40 million spectrum fee.

• New measures to claw back up to $15 billion from the black economy.

NATIONAL SECURITY

• Defence spending is expected to rise from $32.4 billion in 2016-17 to $58.7 billion in 2025-26.

• The Australian Federal Police will receive an extra $321.4 million to fund an expansion of the force with up to 300 personnel expected to be hired, including negotiators, tactical response officers, bomb squad technicians and forensic specialists.

• Around $350 million will go to preventing suicide among war veterans.

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