The upcoming federal budget will include cost of living support for some of the most vulnerable Australians, as the government seeks to provide relief amid soaring inflation. While Treasurer Jim Chalmers has not revealed specific measures, he has emphasized that the support must be delivered in a way that does not add to inflation. The budget is also expected to include $112 billion in debt interest payments over the next four years, as the government contends with a budget in structural deficit in the longer term.
Cost of Living Support for Vulnerable Australians:
The federal budget will provide substantial relief for vulnerable Australians with high electricity bills, according to Treasurer Jim Chalmers. While last year’s budget included a $1.5 billion one-off cost of living package for energy bill relief, Chalmers has not revealed any further efforts that might be included in the upcoming budget. The support will go to people on pensions, other welfare recipients, and small businesses, with the states and territories matching the federal program.
Structural Deficits and Debt Interest Payments:
While the short-term budget outlook looks buoyant, Treasurer Chalmers and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher have repeatedly talked about the broader structural deficits the budget faces. Chalmers has revealed that the cost of servicing the national debt will be $112 billion over the next four years, emphasizing the magnitude of this interest bill. He has also accused his predecessors of leaving a $60 million a day bill on interest. Gallagher has accused the Coalition of “booby trapping” the federal budget by failing to allocate funding to ongoing programs beyond the next year.
Speculation on Budget Measures:
There is speculation that the budget will increase the age limit from the single-parent payment, which is currently capped at 8 years old, to 14 years. There is also speculation that the government will increase the unemployment benefit, JobSeeker, for people aged 55 years and older. Figures this week showed that women aged between 55 and 64 years were the biggest cohort on the JobSeeker payment. Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has called for a surplus in the upcoming budget, while emphasizing the need to strike a balance between assisting people who can’t find work and providing incentives for those who can.
The upcoming federal budget will provide cost of living support for vulnerable Australians, with measures aimed at providing relief amid soaring inflation. While the short-term budget outlook looks buoyant, the government is contending with broader structural deficits and debt interest payments. There is speculation on measures such as increasing the age limit from the single-parent payment and increasing the unemployment benefit for people aged 55 years and older. The government must strike a balance between assisting those who can’t find work and providing incentives for those who can, while ensuring that the budget is sustainable in the longer term.