Budget 2022: Paid parental leave boost and cash payments for pensioners while climate change spending to fall

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced the government’s budget to the nation.

The pre-election budget sees the government trying to counter surging cost-of-living concerns. 

Look back on 2022 budget night as it happened in our live blog.

Key events

Live updates

By Emily Sakzewski

That’s all for the ABC News federal budget live blog tonight

I think we’ll call it a night on the budget blog, folks.

Thanks to everyone who tuned in and sent us their feedback or questions. 

We’ll be back tomorrow morning to bring you the latest reactions to the 2022 federal budget.

By Emily Sakzewski

Who is eligible for the cost of living payment?

The cost of living payment for carers – is that for those on the carers payment or carers allowance? is it even specified?

-Bernice

Thanks for your question, Bernice. Here’s some clarification on who is eligible for the $250 cost of living payment, which will be paid next month.

Concession card holders will be eligible, as well as eligible recipients of any of the following payments:

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Parenting Payment
  • Carer Payment
  • Carer Allowance (if not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
  • Jobseeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance
  • Austudy and Abstudy Living Allowance
  • Double Orphan Pension
  • Special Benefit
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
  • Eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and Veteran Gold card holders

You will only receive the $250 payment once, even if you receiving more than one of the above payments.

The payment will also only be available to Australian residents.

By Emily Sakzewski

When will petrol prices actually get cheaper?

As we heard tonight, the fuel excise will be cut in half by Wednesday morning.

But your local petrol station is not likely to pass on the cut for a while.

By Emily Sakzewski

Some reader feedback on the budget

not sure if we are doing reader input tonight as I don’t see any at the moment but just wanted to say this budget seems to be so very short term and short sighted but not even enough to pitch at an election. That seems crazy and even incompetent but hey

-SW

Something needs to be done about investment properties to make housing more affordable for first home buyers. Scrapping the interest deduction across the board wasn’t popular. How about some type of limit on investment properties?

Some way of adding additional costs as the number of investment properties increase in a portfolio.

For example, after three investment properties, no interest deduction and 50% tax rate on the profit. Some investors may try to increase rents but they’ll eventually lose out as other properties in the area become cheaper to buy and/or rent from new property investors with smaller portfolios. Eventually, investors will look to upgrade the properties within their limit.

-First Home Buyers!!

The government needed to do something about housing…so archaic! Maslow says people need housing, food and water and education…basic needs/basic humanity

-Big miss

If you own a Business, take responsibility for it and the people you employ and that means good pay. If you cut and chop corners and pass the buck on to the consumer, you should not be in business at all. Mentality has to change.

-Aeva

There is nothing for those parents that have older kids (not primary school age children or babies). I’ve compared my wages from those that I earned back in the 1990s and embarrassingly I have only earned under 20k extra in that period of time! Ridiculous – wages are not growing but business is cutting labour by expecting one person to do a job that in the 90s 4 or 5 people used to do. Stupid! The CEO and the Panel guests talk about “Productivity”. I’m sick of that word. We are all taking on roles that expect a lot more. This talk has to stop.

-Aeva

The government of this country is so out of touch with ordinary Australians.
250 dollars will pay an outstanding power bill, then it’s back to being on your knees

-Lisa Cameron

By Emily Sakzewski

Cost-of-living payment ‘will do practically nothing’ for many

By social affairs correspondent Norman Hermant

The federal government will spend $1.5 billion on a one-time $250 Cost of Living Payment, but both National Seniors Australia and the Anti-Poverty Centre say it won’t have much long-term impact.

“People are talking about it being a week’s rent, or a few weeks of groceries,” said Anti-Poverty Centre spokesperson Kristin O’Connell.

“It will do practically nothing.”

The payment will go to about six million Australians on pensions and Centrelink assistance.

National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke said in a statement that pensioners would welcome the federal government’s one-off payment to help with soaring cost-of-living prices.

“However, if a landlord increases rent by as little as $5 a week, this money is gone — and rent is only one example,” he said.

Ms O’Connell also questioned the timing of the payment, which will be deposited by the government into bank accounts next month.

“This payment is going into the pockets of six million people right before an election. It’s very little money, but it’s coming just before they go to the ballot box,” she said.

By Jacqueline Howard

The budget top line

By Brett Worthington

When Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered his first budget on the eve of the 2019 election the words “back in black” were up in lights.

The budget surpluses were never to be with the COVID-19 pandemic sending the Australian economy into its first recession in three decades.

Fast forward to today and the budget is recovering, thanks to surging prices of commodities and a fall in unemployment meaning the government’s welfare bill has also fallen.

The unemployment rate is tipped to fall even further than its current 4 per cent to 3.75 per cent in September — a first in 50 years.

But real wages look likely to remain stagnant , with wage growth tipped to only just outpace inflation in the coming years. The budget papers estimated that real wages went backwards this financial year, thanks to a 4.25 per cent jump in the cost of living.

The budget forecasts deficits around $80 billion this financial year and in 2022-23. Over the longer term, the budget forecasts deficits for at least the next decade.

Net debt is set to peak at $864 billion in 2026, which is an improvement of a $1 trillion forecast in previous budgets.

By Emily Sakzewski

‘Budget has not delivered’ on calls to address family violence

Reporting by Indigenous affairs editor Bridget Brennan

A coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal and family violence prevention groups described the pre-election budget as a failure for First Nations people.

Antoinette Braybrook from Change the Record said the budget didn’t invest properly in housing and family violence prevention services, which she said were needed to meet some of the government’s Closing the Gap targets.

“The calls for urgent, meaningful action to address family violence have been deafening — but again the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been silenced,” she said.

“For years, we have been calling for adequate funding so our services don’t have to turn women away, but again this budget has not delivered.”

The Federal Government will extend custody notification services in Western Australia and the Northern Territory at a cost of $1.9 million. The services notify Aboriginal legal services when an Indigenous person is taken into police custody.

Custody Notification Services were a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody three decades ago.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said part of the funding would be spent on a review of custody notification services in all states and territories to “inform a best practice model”.

By Jacqueline Howard

How the budget tackles the cost of living

By Brett Worthington

Fuel is set to become cheaper — but maybe not for a fortnight.

Drivers will save 22 cents a litre for the next six months, a move to counter surging prices.

It won’t come cheaply for the government, costing the budget bottom line about $3 billion.

The government forecasts the fuel excise cut will save about $14 for the owner of a mid-sized car when filling up, while businesses with fleet vehicles will likely save thousands.

The government is also offering a one-off $250 tax-free cash payment to about 6 million Australians. Pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans and concession card holders will receive the payment.

By Emily Sakzewski

Budget ‘lacking in vision’ for health sector

By medical reporter Sophie Scott

Many in the health sector are disappointed with the budget, saying it was ‘sadly lacking in vision”.

“We had four asks from the federal government and unfortunately none of these have been delivered,” Australian Medical Association federal president Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“The Medicare and hospital funding in the budget amounts to little more than usual recurrent spending and planned growth, not the new injection of funds our health system desperately needs.

“The government has missed this opportunity to address public hospital funding.”

Trent Twomey from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the peak body for community pharmacies, said he was feeling “heart-broken” with the lack of broad measures to help reduce the costs of medicines.

“Tweaking around with the Medicines Safety Net doesn’t help people who are living pay check to pay check in March,” he said.

“If we keep going down the track we are going, we are going to end up with a health system more like the United States than what we have had here in Australia.”

By Jacqueline Howard

New apprentices to pick up $5k cash payments, but wage subsidies to fall

By Tom Lowrey

Cash is going to be put directly in the pockets of new apprentices after July 1, under a new scheme aimed at getting more people into trades.

New apprentices starting in “priority” occupations will be paid $5000, in four parts, across their first two years. There are no strings attached – it’s just to help them complete their apprenticeship.

But the news isn’t quite as good for their employers.

A generous wage subsidy scheme that’s been running for the past few years is ending on June 30, and being replaced with a new, but less generous, alternative.

Instead of paying 50 per cent of a new apprentices’ wage in their first year, it will only cover 10 per cent. And instead of applying to any new apprentice, it will only cover those on a “priority” list.
Those hiring a “non-priority” apprentice will still get a $3500 cash incentive.

By Emily Sakzewski

Boost for Indigenous ranger jobs on a ‘global scale’

Reporting by Indigenous affairs editor Bridget Brennan

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has made a big commitment to grow the workforce of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers.

The Federal Government will spend $636.4 million to create an estimated 2,000 additional ranger jobs by 2028 in regional and remote parts of the country.

The new funding will also encourage more Indigenous women to begin working as rangers on land and sea country.

The Country Needs People campaign has long been calling on the government to significantly invest in doubling the Indigenous ranger workforce and said the announcement is on a “global-scale”.

The campaign’s executive director Patrick O’Leary told the ABC the funding will assist traditional owners to “build and re-build” their communities in the face of climate change.

“It vindicates all the faith and work that traditional owners Australia-wide have shown in backing themselves and the Country Needs People campaign,” he said.

“Communitybased rangers protect nature, sustain cultural management and generate local jobs.

“We face challenging times for both the environment and culture which gives Australia its true riches. Boosting ranger jobs is a key step in facing that future together.”

By Jacqueline Howard

$4.1 million towards implementing findings of review into workplace culture in parliament

The government has set aside $4.1 million to implement recommendations of a damning review of workplace culture inside the federal parliament.

The Jenkins review, sparked by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins‘s rape allegations, was delivered to parliament in February and found that one in three women working in federal parliament had experienced some kind of sexual harassment.

The review also found half of people in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces experienced at least one incident of bullying, sexual harassment or actual or attempted sexual assault.

The majority ($2.6 million) of the money pledged will go towards setting up an Office of Parliamentarian Staffing and Culture (OPSC) which will begin work to create an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission.

A further $800,000 will go towards providing space for the OPSC at Parliament House, while $600,000 will go to expanding the Parliamentary Workplace Support Service.

By Emily Sakzewski

Why the paid parental leave budget measure is a big deal

The federal budget’s paid parental leave changes were flagged by the ABC’s parenting reporter Conor Duffy as being under consideration by the government last year after a campaign by the Grattan Institute and big business.

The budget measure is not quite as generous as the initial proposal, but crucially, it does now allow parents to share their 20 weeks of government-funded parental leave.

Previously, only one parent could take 18 of the 20 weeks leave – a design flaw that analysts said contributed to Australia’s globally low rates of dads taking parental leave.

That’s a big deal because it’s the single biggest factor contributing to Australia’s gender pay gap of 13.8 per cent.

By contrast, Scandinavian countries that have long embraced these policies have a gender pay gap of 7 per cent.

The Federal Government’s proposed change isn’t due to kick in until May 2023 though, meaning they’ll have to successfully navigate the looming election to implement it.

By Emily Sakzewski

More stakeholder reactions to the budget

Ron Gauci, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association:

The commitment of $256.6 million to develop a Digital Identity system is good policy. The benefits will be significant for our economy and for the provision of exceptional services.  The additional investment in digital infrastructure such as NBN and 5G also lends to supporting further Australia’s digitisation journey.

While the $7 billion total investment in skills and training is welcome, the AIIA would have liked to see more clarity around its allocation to ensure a heavier focus and funding allocation towards Australia’s ICT industry and business — this is the area that is suffering severely when it comes to skills shortage and is going to be the driver for economic recovery.

The AIIA is very pleased however, to see $3.9M to support women in mid-career transitions to the tech workforce.

Matt Tinkler, CEO of Save the Children Australia:

COVID, conflict and climate is driving a global and national crisis for children. This budget was a massive missed opportunity to deliver a child-focused recovery.

By Jacqueline Howard

What’s happening with the PBS safety net?

By Peta Fuller

This is one for anyone who regularly hits that safety net threshold — and now around 2.4 million people will reach the cap earlier in the year.

For most of us, the threshold figure drops from just over $1,542 to exactly $1,457.10 before those out-of-pocket costs are cut.

If you’re on a concession card, that goes from $326.40 to $244.80.

And for those on concessions, that adds up to about 12 fewer scripts per year (two for the rest of us).

By Emily Sakzewski

Funding for drug used to treat rare form of breast cancer

By medical reporter Sophie Scott

The budget contains some good news for women with a rare type of breast cancer.

Some women with triple negative breast cancer will have subsidised access to a drug called Trodelvy, which currently costs up to $80,000 per treatment.

Trodelvy is an immune targeted therapy which is used to treat adults with advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer who have been treated with two or more medications.

Breast cancer advocates have been campaigning for the drug to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The government is also continuing to offer people on a mental health plan an additional 10, partially-Medicare subsidised visits to a psychologist each year, a measure first announced during the earlier stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Jacqueline Howard

Key Event

Labor: Budget does not address underlying problem of wages growing slower than inflation

Shortly after the treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered the government’s budget, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers appeared on ABC News to give the Opposition’s first response.

He said nothing in the budget made up for the years of Coalitions rule, which he said was fraught with “attacks on people wages, job security, pensions and medicare”.

“The government is now pretending to care about those cost of living pressures because Scott Morrison has to call an election in the next fortnight. If they cared about cost of living pressures they wouldn’t have spent the best part of a decade coming after peoples wages and job security,” Mr Chalmers said.

Mr Chalmers was asked what a Labor government would do with the fuel excise. He said Labor would not stand in the way of a cut to the cost of living, but “it would be hard to see any government able to afford to maintain this price cut after the price of fuel goes up in September”

“All the government’s done here is take a whole bunch of economic challenges before the election and push them to the other side of the election,” he said.

“So it’s very shortsighted, very desperate, very panicked and I think the country deserves much better.”

By Emily Sakzewski

Some stakeholder reactions to the budget

Jennifer Westacott, the chief executive of the Business Council of Australia:

“The biggest risk to stalling the momentum of the recovery is an acute shortage of workers and a critical skills deficit. This budget goes a long way to addressing these handbrakes on the economy.

“Business is particularly pleased with the $7 billion investment to skill and train Australians. This is a down payment on the future which will give Australians access to the skills and training they need to secure higher paid jobs and it is a crucial element in attracting more investment to Australia.

 Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service

“This budget ignores the big challenges that the country faces right now, which are poverty, inequality and climate change. 

“It does nothing to lift the incomes of people with the least. Whilst we welcome the inclusion of people on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance who will receive the $250 bonus payment, when you live on $46 a day, this payment will help for a week, but how do you pay the next week’s rent?

“The government says this is a cost-of-living budget, but it fails to deal with the biggest cost of living, which is housing. Its housing measures will very likely push house prices up and make housing affordability worse. There is no social housing investment in this budget, when we absolutely need it.

Jo Schofield, the national president of United Workers Union:

“The budget is big on one-off quick fixes, but completely lacking in long-term structural reform.

“The budget also shows Scott Morrison once again failing women.

“Why is it so hard to recognise investments in secure, well-paid jobs in areas including aged care, early childhood education and care and disability services, where women dominate employment stats, provide social and economic benefits far outstripping big-dollar ‘hard-hat’ infrastructure projects?

By Jacqueline Howard

People with disability ‘short changed’ by budget: advocate

Disability affairs reporter Elizabeth Wright has been monitoring reaction from the sector, and reports that the peak advocacy organisation, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has criticised the government for not providing better support for people with disability.

“This budget is a lean, mean budget for people with disability, their families and carers,” said PWDA president Sam Connor, who was in the Budget lock-up.

Ms Connor said their key requests – more support and protection for people with disability during emergencies, more protection from COVID and better support via the NDIS and advocacy services – had been ignored.

“The government has clearly decided to short-change people with disability once again with no new funding commitments of any significance,” she said.

“One in five Australians lives with disability and that’s a very significant proportion of voters… this is a budget that puts people with disability in the far queue.”

By Jacqueline Howard

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Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 13 seconds
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on the listing of Trodelvy for a rare form of breast cancer.