Budget a pre-election cash splash: Labor

By Tom Ravlic

March 30, 2022

Jim Chalmers
Jim Chalmers. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

While the federal government believes it has targeted appropriate areas for financial assistance in the budget, the federal opposition has branded the fiscal announcement a pre-election “cash splash” with secret cuts buried in the budget papers.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the budget is the government’s pitch for another three years in office, but that there are measures that will have a longer-term impact if the Coalition loses the election.

“If the government is defeated in May, its parting gift to Australians will be an increase in petrol prices in September, pay not keeping up with prices, a trillion dollars in debt, and rising interest rates,” Chalmers said.

“They’re asking Australians for another three years but haven’t made any meaningful steps to addressing the aged care crisis and haven’t funded a National Anti-Corruption Commission.”

The opposition is not the only group with criticisms of what was delivered last night.

Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the budget has more temporary fixes than changes designed to improve the quality of life over the long term.

“Whilst we welcome the extension of a $250 bonus payment to people on pensions and allowances, if you’re living on $46 a day, this payment will help for a week or two, but people have to pay the rent 52 weeks a year,” Goldie said.

The ACOSS boss also said the budget, which has been tagged as a cost of living budget, did not deal with the issue of housing appropriately.

“Perversely, the housing measures it contains will very likely push up house prices and make housing affordability worse,” Goldie said.

Live Performance Australia, a representative body for the arts and entertainment industry, would like to have seen more attention paid to help the arts sector recover from the deep slump it had gotten into during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The industry lost $1.4 billion in revenue in 2020, with significant losses in 2021 when our two major markets were locked down. We’ve also lost thousands of people across the industry and now face a severe skill and labour shortage, the worst ever experienced by the industry in living memory,” Evelyn Richardson, the chief executive of Live Performance Australia, said.

“LPA is calling for support to drive investment and rebuild skills and capacity in the arts and entertainment industry. The current skills shortage is gripping Australian businesses nationally. We are not alone.

“There needs to be a much greater focus on skills and training, with a package that enables industry to provide both traineeships to address critical skills shortages and short courses for retraining established technicians.”

Accounting body CPA Australia welcomed the focus in the budget on technology investment for businesses, but Dr Jane Rennie, the body’s spokesperson, said that the technology investment boost measures should go for more than a year to have a proper impact.

“The skills and training boost should be extended to sole traders and the range of training providers be expanded,” Rennie said.


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