Da Budget Breakdown

To dorks like me, the federal budget is like Christmas come early. We all sit around the fireplace and wait for Santa (Josh Frydenberg) to deliver us a ton of goodies.


Content warning: Mental health, suicide in no explicit detail.

This article also discusses Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg.


To dorks like me, the federal budget is like Christmas come early. We all sit around the fireplace and wait for Santa (Josh Frydenberg) to deliver us a ton of goodies. And with less than two months before the Federal Election, which has yet to be called by ScoMo but we all know it’s happening, we have had one of the more intriguing budgets in (my) recent memory. There’s a lot on the line for the Coalition this year (such as, all their jobs) so they are trying not to screw this one up.

But if you didn’t have the patience to sit through Josh’s speech or are confused by all the infographics you’ve seen on Insta, allow me to try and decipher the good, the bad, the ugly, and the just plain weird from this year’s budget.


Is the government really giving us free money?

It seems like the Coalition looked at the rising cost of living, fuel prices, and house prices, then decided to just throw money at the problem to see if it goes away.

With a $420 tax return, $250 for anyone on welfare, and 22 cents off every litre of petrol, it’s easy to think that the Australian public got a pretty good deal out of these announcements. But once the money dries up, will we still be okay? Probably not.

With the Treasury underestimating inflation by 1.5 percent, wages are not increasing fast enough to keep up with the cost of living, and while fuel prices will be cut by 22 cents per litre, they are still going to be at some of the highest levels this country has ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly take $670 over nothing, but classic Frydenberg has sneakily put a tax offset for low and middle-income earners that’ll disappear on June 30, so really, we are losing roughly $1,500 over the course of a year. Suddenly $420 does not sound so good.

It seems that no matter what changes occur to the cost of living, the youth of Australia are constantly left in the dust. The NUS wrote an article highlighting the fact that young people are never mentioned in the budget speech, as if the Coalition are seeing our demographic as not valuable for their re-election efforts. And of course, if we’re not valuable to their campaign, they won’t bother to invest in improving our livelihoods.

Which begs the question, why are they doing it this way? Say it with me now, because it’s marketable.

Scotty knows a little something or two about marketing, and something about giving the public two “free” payments feels like a bribe to win the election in a couple of months.


Higher Education and espionage?

This budget was neutral for higher education students, with no massive changes in funding. Research funding was emphasised by the Government as a point of interest, with the Federal Budget creating a “$2.2 billion investment that will supercharge the generation and translation of Australian research into new commercial products”. So, while money is flowing in to help STEM researchers turn their ideas into real commodities, the Government is quietly altering subsidies given to study STEM? Make this make sense.

You may also remember the shake-up to university fees that happened back in 2020, where courses were raised or lowered depending on what the government found to be “valuable”. Unfortunately, it’s now going to cost more to run these courses which I’m sure will never ever backfire in the slightest.

And then there’s REDSPICE, the Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers package, the largest single investment into intelligence our nation has ever seen. Even though it has an awkward name, it will supposedly see an extra 1,900 jobs created at the Australian Signals Directorate. Yet they are not increasing funding to STEM majors they are inevitably going to hire? Feels like these ten billion dollars could be somewhat better distributed.


Please may I have a crumb of rent assistance?

You would think that after 2021 had both the highest rental rate and rent price spikes since the Global Financial Crisis, the Government would try to step in and alleviate some of the stresses renters have been facing, but the Coalition is nothing if not confusing.

Instead, there was a drop in how much you need to put in as a deposit, from 20% to 5%. According to realestate.com.au, the median price for a unit in Melbourne is $460,000. You’ll still need $23,000 to get in, let alone average house price which in September 2021 was estimated to be an eye watering $1,037,923!

Obviously, this is unattainable for most students, so it’s really disheartening to know that ScoMo doubled down the day after the budget was announced to tell The Today Show that the “best way to support people who are renting a house is to help them buy a house”. Yikes.


How’s the environment going Mr Frydenberg?

Oh it’s definitely going.

Some of the weirdest parts of the budget involve environmental measures, including $20.3 million in tree planting to mark the Queen's platinum jubilee. Not against it at all, but why are we doing this for the Queen?

But on the whole, the environmental aspects seem like common sense moves. $1 billion for rejuvenating the Great Barrier reef, $60 million to create more biodegradable soft plastics, $53 million to save the koalas after the bushfires of 2020, these are good ideas! Maybe this is a shining example of the good our government can—oh wait! They are cutting climate change funding by 35% over the next four years. Classic Joshy.

And it only gets worse, because even though these measures are good, nothing is being done to disincentivise companies to stop polluting.  Josh Frydenburg stating that “technology, not taxes” will ensure a greener future doesn’t help either. You know who’s had a great track record of keeping our nation environmentally safe? The mining sector of course (give me a fucking break).


Arts cut again? Wow I’m so shocked.

$190 million will be cut from funding to the Arts next year, and then another $63 million the year after that, that’s more than 25% in two years. Cuts to Screen Australia seems to be a reflection on how the Government would rather appeal to the big American companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime than develop homegrown concepts. Regional Arts funding concepts appear to be the hardest hit, with more than 50% of its money disappearing in the next financial year.

After the devastation COVID-19 presented the Arts sector as a whole, hearing that they are going to be receiving even less funding has angered the community, especially when parts of the country are still experiencing limits for indoor settings. Even in an election year, it appears that the Arts get left behind again.


So did anything good come out of this budget?

I know I’ve been very doom and gloom with this analysis, but there are some positives to take away from it all.

Mental Health funding is going to receive an influx of half a billion dollars to advance the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan; 4,000 more refugees from Afghanistan will be allowed to enter Australia for the next four years; $6 billion will be directed to rebuild areas affected by the floods earlier than year; small businesses are getting generous tax rebates for any training they oversee; and paid parental leave has been extended by two weeks to twenty weeks and a longer term apprentice incentive scheme will be implemented to encourage trade work. And while some aspects are rough, such as private schools gaining the majority of increased education funding, at least they are increasing education funding?

Look I’ll be honest I’m clutching at straws here; this was not a good budget in the slightest. Private schools should not be receiving government funding. It’s a rushed patchwork of a plan, a plan that doesn’t even want to consider a world past the far-off year of 2023, but it’s the only plan they have.

Roy Morgan polling places the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at a 55.5% majority on a two party preferred and that’s after the bullying scandals that have plagued the party for the past month. And now that South Australia has turned Labor, the Coalition have their backs to the wall and have used the budget as a heroic last stand. Has it worked? Only time will tell, but at least fuel won’t be two dollars a litre now.

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