Thursday, May 11, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The 2023/24 Federal Budget was released on Tuesday evening with the intention of easing the cost of living for all Australians high on the agenda and evident in the detail.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ Budget also delivers a $4 billion surplus with higher commodities, low unemployment and wage growth factors leading to this projection.
If achieved, it will be the first budget surplus in 15 years.
Here is how the budget will impact your hip pocket:
Cost Of Living
• You could be eligible to receive a $500 energy rebate
• Aged care workers will receive a 15% pay rise
• An extra $9 billion for additional childcare subsidies
• Sole parent payments extended until children turn 14
• $40 per fortnight increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy
• Rent assistance increased by 15% to an extra $31 per fortnight
• Family and friends can purchase homes together with 5% deposit
• From 2026 employers will need to pay Superannuation at the same time as the pay wages
Health And Education
• Cheaper prescriptions for people living with chronic illnesses
• Heart health assessments now on Medicare rebate
• $32 million to upgrade school infrastructure
Energy And Environment
• $1 billion to provide low-cost loans for solar panels and double-glazing windows
• $302 million to help farmers move towards low emission future
• $200 million for disaster prevention such as seawalls, drainage measures etc
• $2 billion for a new Hydrogen Headstart program and zero emissions future
What The Budget Means For Our Region
It’s still early days and there is much to dissect within the detail of the Federal Budget for 2023/24 and how it will impact our region.
Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, says he is “pretty disappointed in the budget as a whole as” he believes that more should have been allocated to the Whitsundays given that our region is one of the biggest food producers in the country.
Willcox asserts that the $4.2 billion surplus “is largely on the back of an increase in commodity prices”.
“We’ve got cattle, our beef industry’s been performing well, there’s more export dollars coming in there, and of course coal,” he said.
“In our particular area, we’re the biggest sugar cane growing area, 80% of that’s exported, so there’s export dollars coming in there.
“We’ve produced a lot of this extra income that’s gone towards the surplus and yet all our infrastructure that’s been in the budget has been scrapped.”
The one element of the Budget that Willcox is happy for is the increase healthcare assistance where he says he is “pleased our most vulnerable are being looked after”.
However, he is disappointed that there is no funding for the Bruce Highway, the Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Building or various water projects like the Urannah Dam.
“The North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority’s being scrapped, so that was $9.5 million and that was going to oversee projects like Urannah Dam, the Burdekin to Bowen pipeline, the raising of Burdekin Falls Dam,” he said.
“Australia’s a dry continent, we should be building dams, catching water and using our water for tourism opportunities, for urban use, for mining, for agriculture.”
• Truckies will soon have to pay an additional 6% tax to use the roads which could have significant impacts on our region with supplies for everything from farms to grocery stores relying on road transport. We can expect grocery prices to reflect this additional cost.
• No local hydro-electric projects have been included in the budget which means Urannah Dam, the Burdekin to Bowen pipeline and the raising of Burdekin Falls Dam will be put on the backburner.
• The Whitsunday VMR will not receive its $420,000 upgrade to their headquarters and operational centre
• There is no mention of any funding for the Bruce Highway