11 May, 2021
Zali Steggall OAM MP says Australians will be better off in the short-term following tonight’s Budget, but the long-term challenges of closed borders due to COVID-19, climate change impacts and investment into adaptation and climate resilience have been forgotten.
“There are important measures for many people,” Ms Steggall said. “I am pleased to see the sectors of aged care, disability care, mental health, childcare, women, and lower-middle income earners receiving particular attention.
“I’m disappointed however that there is no solution to opening the borders sooner. This would have been a serious investment in the development of a national federal quarantine system and would have demonstrated a commitment to resuming trade, investment and tourism.
“The Morrison Government has announced $487 million for quarantine in the Northern Territory but no new facilities nationally. Given the situation globally and the pace of the vaccine rollout domestically, it is difficult to see us opening the borders until well into 2022 without a different approach to quarantine.
ENVIRONMENT LOSES IN 2021 BUDGET
Zali Steggall MP says that in such a big-spending budget, the environment has lost out.
“The Treasurer talks about being the custodians of the continent but there is barely funding to protect the environment and certainly not enough to see Australia reach net zero by 2050.
“Australia is facing several crises. Biodiversity loss is accelerating, the global heating is worsening, oceans are acidifying and still overflowing with plastics. Communities are being flattened with successive, unprecedented disasters that are predicted to become more frequent and more severe. Yet the scale of these challenges has not been met with any urgency in this budget,” she said.
“There is some small expenditure for responding to inevitable climate fuelled disasters but the several hundred million dollars over the next decade is not enough to protect or prepare Australia for the climate impacts, which are projected to cost the economy an estimated $39 billion per year by 2050.
“Any positive work to reduce emissions is also being undone by the Government’s continued ‘Gas-Fired Recovery,’ detour. This budget sees several hundred million in handouts for the Gas Industry. This is not in line with the science which is calling for a phase out of fossil fuels.
“Details in the budget were also fuzzy around exactly where the $1.6 billion over 10 years put aside for the emissions reduction will go. Additionally, if you compare this to infrastructure spend of over $110 billion from the last several budgets it is a drop in the bucket.”
WOMEN ARE WELL SUPPORTED
The attention to women’s workforce participation and safety in the Budget is welcome, but Ms Steggall said the Government missed the opportunity to address the inequalities in the paid parental leave scheme and could have gone further.
“Funding for implementation of the Respect@Work recommendations is an important step, as are the measures to improve the economic security of women,” Ms Steggall said.
“The additional support to the childcare sector and funding for preschool education is needed, however, more should to be done to reform the childcare sector and increase the generosity and equity of Australia’s paid parental leave scheme.
“There are enormous economic benefits of getting the Australian Parenting Strategy right as shown by the motion I tabled in February this year, but the Government has underinvested and so the full returns won’t be realised,” Ms Steggall said.
INTEGRITY IS MISSING
Ms Steggall was disappointed that the Commonwealth Integrity Commission disappeared from this year’s budget papers, however was pleased to see that the Australian National Audit Office had its budget restored and an additional 49 staff have been allocated.
AGED CARE/ NDIS
Aged care and NDIS saw large increases in spending totalling nearly $30 billion in combined investment. “This is a huge investment in the care sector and a welcome start and much needed structural reform required to address the Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations.
ZALI STEGGALL’S COUNT OF WHAT IS MISSING FROM THE 2021 BUDGET
- University Funding
- Tourism - Unfortunately there was no new money set aside to support travel agents despite the borders now staying closed until 2022
- Beaches Link Tunnel – The BLT did not see any additional funding in this Federal Budget
- Quarantine facilities
- Arts – On top of the $300 million announced in March, there was nothing new for the Arts and Entertainment sector in this budget
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