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Everything you need to know about the 2024 Federal Budget

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The Government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has two big decisions to make: what to spend money on, and where to get that money from.
Tonight, Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered the 2024 Federal Budget.

Tonight, Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered the 2024 Federal Budget.

The Government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has two big decisions to make: what to spend money on, and where to get that money from.

Here’s what you need to know.

Cost of living

Energy bills

Every Australian household will receive $300 off their energy bills, while eligible small businesses will receive a $325 discount on their power bills. The package is worth $3.5 billion.

Tax cuts

Earlier this year, the Government announced planned changes to its Stage 3 tax cuts.

Under those changes, all taxpayers who earn more than $18,200 per year will pay less tax from July this year.

For example, those who earn between $18,200 and $45,000 will pay 3% less tax on every dollar earned in a year.

Rent

The Budget includes an extra $1.9 billion to fund rent subsidies for welfare recipients over the next five years.

From September, Australians who receive government assistance to pay their rent (e.g. Centrelink recipients) will receive an additional 10% in rent assistance.

Last year, the Government boosted the rent assistance payment by 15%.

JobSeeker

Anyone on income support payments who can work up to 14 hours a week will be eligible for a higher JobSeeker payment compared to their current eligible rate.

The budget forecasts unemployment will increase to 4.5% in the next two years. The unemployment rate measures the percentage of people who were looking for work but could not find any.

Currently, unemployment is at 3.8%.

Medicine

The Government has announced a one-year freeze on the maximum amount that Australians with a Medicare card can pay for medicine on the national Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

It means that Australians with a Medicare card won’t pay more than $31.60 for a PBS prescription.

The freeze will be extended to five years for pensioners and other concession holders. This will ensure concession holders, who access 60% of PBS scripts, won’t pay more than $7.70 for a prescription.

Supermarkets

The Government has announced consumer advocacy group CHOICE will publish quarterly reports on grocery prices, monitoring and comparing the costs of essentials, such as vegetables, bread, and household products, across retailers likes Woolworths and Coles.

The first report is due by the end of June.

Climate

‘Future Made in Australia’

The ‘Future Made in Australia’ (FMIA) is the Government’s plan to make Australia a “renewable energy superpower”.

A major part of the FMIA plan is to boost local manufacturing of climate infrastructure, such as solar panels and batteries.

Under the Budget, $22.7 billion will be allocated to fund Government’s transition to net zero, over the next decade.

Some of the funding is aimed at encouraging more industries to build and develop green energy technologies.

This includes more than $835 million to make more solar panels for homes and businesses.

Disaster payments

The budget includes more than $138 million to fund responses and preparation plans for natural disasters like fires and floods.

Some of the money will go towards boosting specialised plane and helicopter fleets to respond to bushfires.

$3.6 million will go towards mental health support for frontline emergency workers.

Climate research

As part of a partnership with the U.S, the Government will spend nearly $450 million to collect more data on the impacts of climate change.

The “Landsat Next” program will monitor the earth’s climate and natural disasters, helping researchers to track changes and trends.

Pacific neighbours

The Government has recently held a series of meetings with Pacific Island leaders.

It agreed to a $100 million fund over the next three years to boost climate and disaster resilience projects in Pacific Island countries.

Education and students

80% goal

The Government announced a new target for 80% of Australia’s working population to hold a tertiary qualification by 2050. That’s about 20% more than the current rate. It will invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to achieve this.

The funding will cover measures like making university and TAFE courses more accessible. For example, universities will receive more funding if they provide dedicated support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Uni access

The Budget includes $350 million for free bridging courses — prep programs that give students more pathways to uni by teaching them basic skills for undergrad courses.

About 25,000 students took bridging courses in 2022.

Fee-free courses will roll out from next year.

TAFE and apprenticeships

The Government will spend $89 million to fund 20,000 fee-free TAFE courses over the next three years. These places will be for construction courses and include access to pre-apprenticeship programs.

The Government will spend $265 million to boost worker numbers in fields where there are skills shortages.

This includes support for more apprentices and traineeships in areas like construction. For example, apprentices in priority industries will be paid $5,000 (up from $3,000).

Employers will also receive a $5,000 hiring incentive (up from $4,000) to hire and train more people in these sectors.

Childcare workers

The Government has set aside funding for increased wages for early childhood education and care workers, which is subject to a Fair Work Commission decision.

HECS

The Government will wipe $3 billion in HECS debts, as part of its overhaul of the student debt repayment system. This was confirmed in a pre-budget announcement last week.

HECS debts increase annually to reflect inflation. This is called ‘indexation’.

Under the new system, the rate of indexation will be determined by whichever is lower between the Consumer Price Index (inflation) or the Wage Price Index (the figure measuring rising wages).

Currently, the lower rate of these is inflation (3.6%).

The scheme will be backdated to last year, when student debts increased by 7.1%. The measure will need to pass Parliament before coming into effect.

Prac payments

Nursing, midwifery, teaching and social work students will be eligible for weekly payments during mandatory practical placements.

The Government announced the initiative ahead of this week’s budget.

Eligible students will receive a $320 weekly payment from July 2025 during their placement.

The measure is expected to cost $1.6 billion over 10 years.

Ombudsman

Almost $20 million will be spent on establishing a National Student Ombudsman.

Students will be able to escalate complaints to the Ombudsman if they’re not satisfied with how a dispute was handled by their university. This could include university responses to complaints about gender-based violence on campus.

The body is expected to be set up by February 2025.

Sport

Brisbane 2032

The Federal Government has announced $2.2 billion to fund transport projects in southeast Queensland ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As part of a 2023 deal with the Qld Government, the Federal Government agreed to contribute funding towards helping the region build new venues to host the Games.

AIS upgrades

Almost $250 million will be spent on overhauling the Australian Institute of Sport — a national centre in Canberra for high-performing athletes.

This was a measure flagged by the Government earlier in May.

The investment is expected to fund a new multi-storey accommodation facility, a multi-sports dome, and a high-performance training and testing centre.

Grassroots sport

The Australian Sports Commission and the Department of Health will receive nearly $133 million over the next three years to support community sports.

This includes $63 million to fund an ongoing program encouraging sports participation among schoolchildren.

$17 million will go towards junior (aged 12-24) athletes competing at state, national and international competitions.

Integrity

About $94 million will be directed to Sports Integrity Australia.

This will include $17 million over the next two years to ensure the national body’s ongoing drug testing of elite athletes.

Some funding has been directed to investigating alleged corruption and bribery in Australian sports.

Health

Medicine price freeze

The Government has announced an incentive aimed at giving Australians more access to subsidised medication.

It means that for the next year, people with a Medicare card won’t pay more than $31.60 per prescription of PBS-listed drugs.

This will be extended to five years for pensioners and other concession holders, who won’t pay more than $7.70 for a prescription.

Medicare

The Government has provided more details on how it plans to spend $1.2 billion to strengthen Medicare services.

The funding was first agreed to by National Cabinet in December 2023.

The Government has now announced plans to increase the number of Medicare Urgent Clinics – centres designed to reduce the burden on hospital emergency departments – across the country. It will spend $227 million over the next two years to fund 29 new urgent clinics, including in regional Australia.

Reproductive health

The Government will invest $56 million over the next four years to improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Free menstrual hygiene products will be offered to rural and remote First Nations communities under a $12.5 million scheme.

Funding has also been directed towards research around miscarriages and sexual and reproductive health. This includes $7 million on miscarriage education and awareness, and for women and families impacted by stillbirth or miscarriage.

COVID-19

The Government will spend $490 million over the next four years to continue its national COVID-19 vaccine program.

About $336 million will go towards delivering more PCR testing.

HIV

Almost $44 million has been allocated over the next three years to support HIV care and treatment in Australia.

Most of this will be used to subsidise pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV prevention medication for those without access to Medicare.

Aged care

The Government will continue with a $2.2 billion investment, in response to the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

More than half of this will be used to improve digital systems in the aged care sector.

Funding has also been set aside for an expected wage increase for aged care workers.

Mental health

Almost half of Australians will experience a mental health concern in their lifetime.

The 2024-25 Federal Budget includes $888.1 million for mental health and suicide prevention services.

Funding will go towards several initiatives aimed at ensuring “Australians can access quality and affordable care when and where they need it.”

This includes free digital support services, new walk-in mental health centres and counselling for workers in some industries.

Digital services

The Government will spend $588.5 million to launch a digital service for people with “mild mental health concerns”.

The service will be free, and users won’t need a GP referral to access it.

It’s expected to be rolled out to all Australians by 1 January 2026. The Government estimates 150,000 people will use the free service annually.

Walk-in centres

The budget includes $30 million for walk-in Medicare mental health centres. The centres have been designed to support people with moderate to complex mental health needs through free services.

The funding builds on a national network, which will be upgraded to include 61 mental health centres by 30 June 2026.

Frontline workers

The Government has also allocated $3.6 million to provide targeted mental health support to emergency service workers over the next year.

This will target workers who respond to natural disasters, like bushfires and floods.

Small business owners

Small business owners will continue to have free access to mental health and financial counselling, under a two-year, $11 million investment.

The service allows small business owners to access free and confidential mental health support that can be conducted over the phone.

Disability

The National Disability Insurance Scheme was launched in 2013 to provide financial support to eligible people with disability.

A review into the scheme was launched in 2022. A final report handed down in December identified several flaws in the system, including concern over the quality of care being provided to NDIS recipients.

The Government responded to the findings by announcing $130 million in increased NDIS funding. The Federal Government introduced legislation to improve the NDIS in March. Its proposal is still before Parliament.

An NDIS Committee and Working Group will also be established to oversee the implementation of the review’s recommendations.

About $161 million will be spent over the next four years to upgrade the IT systems used by the NDIS.

The funding is aimed at better protecting the safety of NDIS participants from cybersecurity threats and reducing “regulatory burden” on NDIS providers.

Employment for Australians with disability

The Government’s announced almost $228 million for a new specialist disability employment program. This will replace the existing Disability Employment Services program by July 2025.

The new program is designed to increase the flexibility of support services to meet individual needs.

Royal Commission

The Budget didn’t offer specific details in response to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The Royal Commission released its final report in September last year, which included 222 recommendations to make Australia more inclusive and safer for people with disability.

A formal Federal Government response is expected in the middle of this year.

Housing

The Federal Budget includes $6.2 billion worth of new housing measures.

This includes a deal with states and territories to boost funding for social housing and homelessness services.

Separately, the Government has also promised states and territories $1 billion for essential infrastructure like roads to support new housing builds.

Rent

The Budget includes an extra $1.9 billion to fund rent subsidies for welfare recipients over the next five years.

From September, Australians who receive government assistance to pay their rent (e.g. Centrelink recipients) will receive an additional 10% in rent assistance.

Last year, the Government boosted the rent assistance payment by 15%.

Emergency housing

$1 billion will go towards building crisis accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

It’s part of the Government’s broader strategy to tackle intimate partner violence and establish more support for families.

Uni accommodation

The Budget includes a requirement for universities to build more student housing. It comes after the Government announced plans to limit international student numbers.

Unis will be able to accept more international enrolments based on how much housing they provide.

The Government has allocated $2.1 million for the additional supply of uni accommodation but did not provide details on how this will work in practice.

NT housing

$4 billion in joint funding from the Federal and NT Governments will go towards building new homes to address overcrowding in the territory.

270 homes a year are due to be built over 10 years.

Some funding has been allocated to urgent repairs on existing homes in the NT.

Foreign policy and defence

Foreign aid

The budget includes $2.9 million in additional funding over two years for individuals and their families from “affected areas” in the Middle East, including Israel and Gaza.

The budget doesn’t specify any extra funding for Ukraine.

However, goods imported from Ukraine won’t be subject to tax for another two years (with exemptions for things like alcohol or tobacco).

Defence

Earlier this year, the Government announced an extra $50.3 billion to be spent on national defence over the next decade. This includes money for new navy fleets, logistics technology, and arms capabilities.

Overall funding for defence will reach $765 billion over the next decade.

Nuclear-powered submarines acquired through the AUKUS partnership are expected to contribute significantly to defence spending.

Visas and passports

From July, Australians can fast-track passports through a new process that will cost an additional $100, on top of passport costs.

The measure means passports can be approved within a five-day turnaround.

Tourists visiting Australia from China, Vietnam, and India will have to pay an extra $25 for a working or holiday visa.

First Nations communities

Closing the Gap

The Government is spending $2.4 billion over five years to support First Nations communities, some of which go towards Closing the Gap targets.

There are 17 targets to close the gap between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians, which include measures around jobs, health and education, as well as initiatives to reduce the rate of First Nations people in prison.

The Government is not on track to meet the majority of these targets.

Digital hubs

The Government has announced $68 million to connect First Nations communities to Wi-Fi.

The roll-out will include Digital Hubs to develop online safety and digital literacy skills within remote communities.

Jobs

The Government is developing a remote jobs program to employ an extra 3,000 people in regional communities.

The program will cost about $777 million over the next five years.

Jail-to-job program

The Government has announced $76 million for a program to help First Nations people transition into employment after serving jail time.

The voluntary program will connect people with support services before and after their release.

Health

The Budget includes $12.5 million to provide First Nations women in remote communities with access to free period products.

Women’s safety

Leaving violence

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged $925 million to establish the Leaving Violence Program. It followed a crisis meeting between the PM and state and territory leaders.

Eligible recipients will receive up to $5,000 in support. The program also includes support and planning services.

National Plan

The Government will fund preventative and intervention programs to support women’s safety, as part of its 10-year national plan to end violence against women and children.

The plan was launched in 2022 after a 2010 failed to meet its goals.

One of its key targets is to reduce the number of gender-based violence deaths by 25% a year.

Other funding

The Government will continue with a $35 billion, five-year investment to fund welfare payments for eligible single parents with a child up to 14 years old.

It will also progress a $253 million, four-year program to boost funding for 1800 RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence support service.

Housing

Almost $32 billion will be spent on an assistance package to support low-income renters. Just over half of Australians who receive rental assistance are single women.

Accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence will also be built as part of the Government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund.

Online safety

The Government has previously announced it would spend $6.5 million on an age-verification trial, aimed at blocking children from accessing harmful content online.

The Government is also expected to table legislation to ban deepfake pornography.

The reforms are intended to stop the spread of “misogynistic influencers and content”.

Arts and culture

Two Australian broadcasters receive Government funding: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Services Corporation (SBS). The broadcasters will receive a combined $1.7 billion for the 2024/25 financial year.

About $1 billion of that goes to the ABC and about $400 million to SBS. The remainder will be spent on transmission and distribution technologies.

Arts spending

Annual spending on arts and culture is expected to hit $2.1 billion this year, and decline to $1.85 billion within four years.

The Budget includes some funding for arts and film agencies, such as $9.3 million for the National Film and Sound Archive.

$117 million will go towards operating national arts training organisations and the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

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