THE Government will invest $1 billion boosting innovation, productivity and competitiveness through its Plan for Australian Jobs, including $500 million to establish 10 Industry Innovation Precincts, and $378 million to stimulate venture capital.
Projects worth more than $500 million must include an Australian Industry Participation Plan, and there will be increased safeguards against unfair overseas competition through the new Anti-Dumping Commission. In an initiative that will help low-income people enter the workforce, income support recipients will be able to earn up to $100 a fortnight (up from $62) before their payments are affected. This will cost $300 million over four years.
There will be also be an extra $21.4 million to help workers who have been bullied take action through the Fair Work Commission, and $25.7 million more for the Fair Work Ombudsman to enforce rights and obligations at work. A widening of the Paid Parental Leave scheme will allow 1300 more families to access the scheme.
The Government will invest $9.8 billion over the six years from 2014-15 towards its schools funding reform package – the National Plan for School Improvement (the Gonski plan). This aims to place Australia in the top five countries for maths, science and reading by 2025. The plan establishes a benchmark funding amount per student, with extra loadings for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and to reflect school location and size. But on the negative side, $2.3 billion has been taken from university funding to pay for Gonski.
The biggest ticket item in the Budget is the $19.3 billion DisabilityCare Australia reform, partly funded through a 0.5% increase to the Medicare levy. DisabilityCare will not be fully rolled out until 2018-19, but the Medicare levy increase will begin in July next year, raising $20.4 billion up until 2018-19. The scheme will begin with regional trials from July this year.
The main initiative in this year's Budget is an extra $691 million over five years to widen the scope of medicines available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including drugs for the treatment of chronic nerve pain, hepatitis and Parkinson's Disease. The Budget will commit a further $226 million to cancer care and research, including $92.2 million for breast cancer and cervical cancer detection.
This year's Budget commits $24 billion to a new wave of infrastructure projects around the nation, bringing the total investment in infrastructure since 2008 to $60 billion. New projects to be funded include the $3 billion Melbourne Metro rail underground, $715 million Brisbane Cross River Rail, and $1.8 billion to the Sydney Motorways M4 extension and M5 duplication, and $500 million for Tasmania's Midland Highway. The Budget also says that 4.8 million premises will have access to the National Broadband Network by July 2016.
This year's Budget provides a $1.1 billion investment in early childhood education. This includes $300 million over two years in grants to childcare centres to attract and retain a qualified workforce through higher wages, and to improve the quality of childcare for children. While the Government is investing $22.1 billion over four years in direct benefits for childcare costs to families, it will save $105.8 million by continuing an indexation pause of the childcare rebate cap. The Baby Bonus will be discontinued from March next year, replaced with an increase in the Family Tax Benefit Part A by $2000 for the first child and $1000 for subsequent children (if Paid Parental Leave is not claimed).
The Superannuation Guarantee will rise from 9% to 9.25% from July, and continue rising until it reaches 12% in 2019. But from July next year, wealthy retirees earning more than $100,000 from their savings will lose their full tax concession, and pay 15% tax above on earnings above that amount.
Infographics that explain the Budget visually
- How we compare in debt and unemployment
- Where the money comes from and how it's spent
- By the numbers - cash balance, inflation, unemployment, economic growth
- Steady as she goes for the Australian economy
- Swan avoids the axe as he focuses on jobs and growth
- Let's focus on what the Budget does for us, not the bottom line