On Tuesday 2 April, the Liberal Government announced their federal budget for 2019-2020. Although deemed an ‘infrastructure’ budget, housing affordability seems to be a topic which is missing from the agenda.
It is unfortunate the budget makes no mention of an affordable housing plan or addressing housing affordability in Australia. The findings from the ‘Making Better Economic Cases for Housing Policy’ indicate a clear connection between productivity and locating housing close to jobs and services. Despite the Liberal Government’s budget investing millions into roads and transport, the budget has failed to make the connection between the necessity for affordable homes in close proximity to jobs and services which will ultimately increase productivity.
Here are the hits and misses in the Liberal Government’s budget:
Roads, rails and transport: $6.2 billion for Victoria, $7.3 billion for NSW, $2.3 billion for SA and $1.6 billion for WA have been dedicated to infrastructure projects for improving roads, rails and transport. This addresses the ‘infrastructure’ part of the budget which the Coalition will focus on.
Mental health and suicide prevention: The budget also announced much needed reform in the country’s mental health and suicide prevention strategy. A $461 million investment has been dedicated to improving the mental health and suicide prevention services across Australia. This includes $11.3 million towards the creation of 30 new Headspace services.
Fighting domestic violence: Over the next three years, an extra $328 million will be dedicated towards the fight against domestic violence. This includes frontline services ($82m), safe places ($78m), prevention strategies ($68m), hotline service ($62m), and support and prevention measures for Indigenous communities ($35m).
NT remote housing: The government has dedicated $550 million for remote housing in the NT. This matches a commitment by the NT Government.
Taxpayers: $158 billion in additional tax relief is the centrepiece of the budget. If the Liberal Government is re-elected, taxpayers earning up to $126,000 per year are set to receive immediate tax relief. More than 10 million Australians will benefit, though only 4.5 million will receive the full amount.
Small & medium business: The government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $25,000 to $30,000 per asset. Apprentices, including bakers, bricklayers, carpenters and plumbers, will receive a $2,000 payment, with incentive payments to employers doubling to $8,000 per placement.
NDIS: One of the biggest savings in the budget is the cuts to the NDIS. The government plans to reduce the $1.6 billion in National Disability Insurance Scheme payments with a slower-than-expected rollout. This money will be used for improving the budget bottom line and creating an emergency disaster response fund.
Welfare recipients: Employed welfare recipients will be asked to report their employment fortnightly in a new system, which is then checked by the Department of Human Services. The government hopes this will prevent over-payments for working income support recipients.
Foreign doctors: In last year’s budget, millions of dollars were saved through the reduction of the number of foreign doctors brought to Australia. This program is extended in this year’s budget with the number of overseas-trained doctors being reduced by another 155.
Canberra: While a large degree of money has been invested in other cities, Canberra’s infrastructure plans aren’t set to go ahead until 2021-2022. Canberra Hospital’s intensive care unit is set to increase by six beds.