Budget cheat sheet: what you need to know
Last night’s #Budget2016 announcement has been met with a resounding “meh” by state treasurers, leaders in the education sector and health practitioners. It was also vastly underwhelming for most people waiting with bated breath to hear about Australia’s plan for climate change, which failed to get a mention by Treasurer Scott Morrison.
Handing down his first federal budget, Morrison announced that “this is not a time to be splashing money around”, which meant there were obvious losers in this year’s budget. While there were a lot of unremarkable decisions made, there were some wins within the announcements.
So how did students fare in this year’s budget?
Well, there’s some good news and there’s some bad news – as well as a whole lot of debate in-between. Here’s what you need to know from the budget and how it might affect you.
Youth job plans
In response to claims that graduates straight out of uni aren’t work-ready, the government is dedicating 750 million dollars to a new youth employment program called Jobs PaTh (Prepare, Trial, Hire). Coming into action April next year, the government will subsidise businesses that run internship programs with an up-front $1,000 incentive payment and a wage subsidy from $6,500 to $10,000.
And what do students get? The scheme aims to provide job seekers with “intensive pre-employment skills training”. Participants will be entitled to a $200 fortnightly payment on top of their usual income support.
While this decision has been met with approval from the Australian Council of Social Services and poor students everywhere sick of unpaid internships, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has criticised the government’s plan. The union’s national president, Andrew Dettmer, argued that this will be another form of underpaying interns, with the proposed rate equating to no more than $4 an hour.
Uni fee deregulation
If you think the Libs made concrete decisions regarding universities, you’d be wrong. Nah, that’s a future budget’s problem. Although the Federal Government has ditched its controversial plans for full university fee deregulation from the 2014 budget, the budget’s ambiguous plans for universities inevitably means cuts to the higher education sector. The same budget announced a 20 per cent funding cut to universities that still remains on the table, with this year’s budget spouting that a cool two billion dollars can be saved from the higher education sector.
No concrete decisions were made regarding universities, with the need for “further consultation” left for another year. Potential changes that the government has suggested have been reducing the income level for HECS repayments from $54,000 to as low as $40,000, partial fee deregulation for some courses, and increased repayments for high-income earners.
If you’re a smoker, prepare to start paying a lot more for cigarettes. Just when you thought taxes couldn’t get any higher on a pack of smokes, the government has planned a 12.5 per cent increase on tobacco tax over the next four years. That means the price will continue to go up each year until 2020 when they will be almost $40 a pack.
Buying a home
The news just keeps getting worse. The future continues to look bleak for millennials who want to buy a house in the next 10 years without remaining in debt forever. Despite longstanding discussion, negative gearing and the capital gains tax will remain unchanged. In a bid to protect property owners from having the value of their houses undermined, negative gearing will not be removed, meaning house prices will continue to rise.
A small win for women! If you’re thinking of eventually taking time off to have children, the government will build upon your super savings. From past cuts to maternity leave, this is an improvement that will see $500 refunded if you earn less than $37,000 and the chance for your partner to get tax offsets if you’re a low-income earner.