26 October 2022
Labor’s first budget has plenty of teal linings – but more is required in key areas for equality, integrity and real climate action
This budget has a big focus on the issues that I have been campaigning for over 3 years - the ones that matter to our community. Climate and equality especially were big winners from this budget. I welcome the Government’s commitment to climate action but the target of 43% by 2030 remains inadequate to reach the Paris Agreement Goal to prevent the worst of the global warming induced impacts for our way of life. The government will provide $51 million in disaster support for communities in 2022-23 in addition to the $1.4 billion allocated via the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) and Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) and this will only escalate if measures are not extended. However, there are multiple meaningful commitments in the Budget Papers that will assist Australia’s long-term transition to a net zero economy.
As with every budget, I will be keeping a close eye on gas and fossil fuel subsidies. There are some questionable buckets of money in the budget such as $141 million for carbon capture projects and billions of dollars for Northern Australia Infrastructure which has historically been used to fund gas exploration in the Beetaloo Basin, not to mention the continuing increase in the fossil fuel subsidies through fuel tax credits to mining operations.
On the integrity front, the $262 million for the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is a good foundation on which the new body can quickly become established and make progress on initial investigations, however, it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to sustain the Commission for the next 4 years. It is a massive increase on the budget that the previous government had proposed which reflects the advocacy by myself and fellow crossbenchers that it is essential that the NACC have teeth and the funds to back it up.
On equality, we are seeing a shift in the way gender is reflected in the budget with it becoming more central to the economic argument and cost of living relief. Both paid parental leave and more affordable childcare have been highlighted by the Government as their key measures to address rising costs of living, solving skills shortages and boosting growth and tax revenue. While these measures are welcome, they won’t come into effect for another 8 months and paid parental leave changes won’t be fully implemented until 2026 – surely, we should be implementing these solutions sooner rather than later.
For the most vulnerable in our community, the Government’s announcement of a million new social and affordable homes over the next 5 years is a welcome market signal but there is a lot of work to be done to actually get there. The Federal Government is only committing to building 10,000 of those homes leaving the state governments and institutional investors to do the heavy lifting on the remaining 990,000. Sadly, there has been a clear failure to address the low rate of Job Seeker, leaving many below the poverty line.
Beyond these key areas there is a lot of bad news from the national and global economic outlook. The doom and gloom of this budget means that there are big decisions to be made. We need long term structural reform and a reset on resources revenue as soon as possible. A debt repair levy may also need to be considered to offset the impact of the tax cuts if the Government is not planning to amend them.
Overall, the budget is a significant improvement on the last. Thank you, Warringah, for your advocacy on these issues. I will continue to push for stronger action to reduce our emissions, bring forward cost of living savings for families, support small business and maintain budget transparency and fiscal discipline.
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