From Divided Answers

Budget First Thoughts

I’ve spent the last fifteen or twenty minutes taking a very brief look over some of the budget papers released tonight. I intend to post a more considered and detailed response to the budget late on Thursday evening.

But I thought I’d throw my first two or three thoughts out here for your perusal.

Overall Impression: Good on the surface, but full of holes on even a slightly closer inspection.

Specific Notes:

Changes to Youth Allowance – probably quite good. I’ve little problem with removing the impetus to take a gap year. Dropping the age to 22 is a strong idea as well, though it’d be nice to see it done a little quicker than is proposed (of course, I also see the need to spread the costs at least a little this budget). Increasing the amount you can earn before losing YA is a god send. This is one section I will definately be having a closer look at – one of my main concerns remains the effect YA has in delaying entry to the workforce, which is by-and-large detrimental to your ability to get a good job once you’ve graduated. But, overall I think the YA changes are quite positive.

Uncapping University Places -!!! I have died and gone to heaven if I’ve read this part correctly and if the details follow the general direction in the way that I hope they do. I will definately be returning to this section for some detailed commentary.

Infrastructure Projects – good to see some cash flowing this way, though I withhold judgement until I’ve had a closer look at which projects the cash is flowing towards.

Paid Parental Leave – Yay! Finally we’re not completely backwards in this regard. Again, I reserve judgement until I’ve seen the details. I’m ecstatic (and surprised) that it’s parental leave and not maternity leave. I hope there are no provisions requiring employers to increase the parental leave they already offer. Real wages need to drop (and will one way or another), and relieving some of the parental leave burden from those employers that do offer it is a nice way to do this (plus, forcing them to do so would punish those employers that had already stepped up and offered parental leave whilst those employers who haven’t the moral decency to step up will now reap the benefits… And that’s enough hypothetical conjecture).

First Home Owners Boost – the FHOG is still bad economics. I wish they’d axed it.

Age of Retirement – I am absolutely amazed that they were prepared to move the age at which you become eligible for the aged pension, admittedly it’s only a small increase from 65 to 67 (and I’ve yet to look to see for changes in superannuation access age and the like). Still, I’m amazed they were willing to do this. Without real investigation my greatest qualm is probably that they should’ve taken the opportunity to up it a little more. Given the ageing population, it’s likely it will need to be increased again and I wouldn’t count on future governments having the political will to do so (I didn’t expect this one to have the will, I guess that’s an advantage of being able to point to the GFC and blame it).

Nurse Practitioners to get access to MBS and PBS – Fuck Yes! About goddamned time. Now, they need to expand the role and increase the number of nurse practitioners. (I can only imagine the current howling of hatred and “you’ll kill everyone” that must be flying through the AMA at the moment). I will definately be taking a closer look at these changes.

Defence Spending – The word ‘dubious’ doesn’t begin to cover my reaction to this area of the budget.

All in all, I’m quite optimistic that this is a good budget, especially if the projections for a return to surplus are accurate and feasible. The proportion GDP of the deficit is less than I had anticipated. Many of the changes are superficially brilliant, I am most eager to take a closer look at these changes and see if their details hold up to their promise.

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