Budget a 'shameless political fix', says Labor

Political and business responses to the Federal Budget are likely to be one-sided affairs – of course. But even taking that into account, retorts from Labor and the Greens make for colourful reading.

Labor shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers described the Treasurer’s third Budget as a “shameless political fix”.

He said it failed to deliver the genuine reform needed to make Australia’s economy stronger, broader and more sustainable.

“Despite spending almost $100 billion and racking up a record $1 trillion in debt, the Morrison government’s budget reveals real wages will go backwards.”

Read more: The key Budget policies aimed squarely at retirees

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the Budget was a “missed opportunity” to address long-term issues.

“There will be low wages, there is nothing there to grow productivity, there is nothing there to advance new industries, there is nothing there to build back stronger,” he said on Sunrise.

“If you are going to have $1 trillion of debt, you want a legacy to show for it, and there is nothing in this Budget that indicates anything other than low wages, low wage growth, low economic growth into the future and no real plan beyond getting through the next election.”

The Greens said the Budget was for the billionaires.

“The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg spoke in Parliament … about how our nation’s budget should change lives – and it should. The problem is, the lives he’s improving are those of his billionaire mates,” said Greens leader Adam Brandt and co-deputy leader Senator Nick McKim.

“It could have begun to tackle the climate emergency. Instead, after a year that’s seen billionaires make out like bandits while everyday people have been struggling to survive, it will further entrench a growing divide and fuel the climate crisis.”

Read more: Scandal-plagued aged care system gets funding overhaul

The Greens leaders said the Liberal party cared more about their big donors than Australia’s – and the planet’s – future, and was handing out more than $62 billion a year to big corporations and billionaires.

“We now have just eight budgets left until the window closes on humanity’s ability to keep the climate crisis within our control. And if we fail to act, if we delay, the lives of our kids, and their kids, are at risk,” they said.

“Instead of investing in a clean, renewable future, the government has chosen to pour $51 billion to prop up the coal, oil and gas industry, and has given the green light to dirty new gas projects that will only accelerate the climate crisis.

“If the billionaires and big corporations were made to pay their fair share of tax (instead of receiving even more government handouts), every Australian could have a secure well-paid job, and an affordable home, we could include dental and mental health in Medicare, and we could make education – from early childhood to university – free.”

The Australia Institute’s Ben Oquist said the Budget had failed to deliver any meaningful tax reform.

“A fairer and simpler tax system would wind back tax concessions, tackle inequities, ensure public goods are supported, discourage polluting and destructive activities, and collect more revenue more fairly. On any of these measures the Budget has failed,” he said.

“Too many tax reforms have been taken off the political table. Resource tax reform, wealth tax reform, property tax reform and carbon pricing have been put in the ‘too hard’ basket. From affordable, quality aged care to climate change, policy challenges cannot be best addressed without a better tax policy.”

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Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the Budget struck “a prudent balance” between growth and fiscal discipline. “We are on the right track,” she said. “The Budget builds on the significant gains we’ve made to create jobs, get people and businesses back to work, rebuild confidence and fire up economic growth.”

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Australia chief economist Jeremy Thorpe described the Budget as a “renovation budget, not a new built budget”.

“The economic environment means that the government is in a much better place than it expected just six months ago, and it’s been able to continue spending while still showing better fiscal outcomes than we expected last October,” he said.

“This is not a stimulus budget. This budget is [about] patching up existing arrangements as we emerge on the other side of the bridge.”

Do you believe there will be a federal election later this year? Do you think the Budget was geared towards that? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Written by Janelle Ward



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