I can’t imagine how difficult or time consuming it must be to analyze, compare and comment on the budget. I wonder how much energy goes into the Labor reply. Yeah, I know, an army of minions … But that worries me. Surely a reply should be given more consideration than a few days. I notice too that anyone not in government is, of course, not happy. And I suspect there’s a bit to be, not happy about.
We’ve missed the last 6 predictions on our return to surplus. We will miss this one too. All of these predictions are based on a faulty assumption that the economy will return to growing like it did in the commodity boom. Only serious economic reform could make that happen now.
Company tax cut: probably OK. The bulk of available evidence and expert opinion supports it, but economics is not like science and there are certainly respectable and well-founded objections. Our preferred stance is to cut company tax but also remove fund-shifting loopholes and concessions on fossil fuels.
Speaking of which - removing tax loopholes. Good thing. We will have to see if it yields the $3 billion that’s been mooted. You might want to be skeptical of the idea that all this money was just sitting on the table and successive governments chose not to take it.
National Innovation and Science Agenda - good thing. We have a real problem with commercialization of research in Australia, and that denies an important well of funding to scientific work. Good luck to them attempting to fix that and also to improve the incentives for small and new businesses to start. The Pirate Party would like to see more funding for basic research as well, but perhaps that will come. This policy is certainly a break from the Abbott years.
Defence spending - excessive. The goal of defence funding at 2% of GDP is spurious. Spending $50 billion on custom-made orphan boats that won’t be completed until 2060 is a bad idea. Technology moves too quickly and the later boats will be obsolete before they’re built. Buy subs off the shelf at half the price and dispense with the JSFs. Shift the savings to foreign aid and seek to build security by reducing poverty in our region.
The internship scheme is an improvement from the Abbott era of simply cutting off benefits for the young. It appears to be done with good intentions and a lot of expert review. It may work, but watch out that it’s not abused or turned into an alternative to full-paid jobs. It deserves a chance.
Grandfathering the carbon tax compo - mixed. Finding savings to fund the NDIS properly is certainly a good idea. But NewStart (in particular) is too low and this will make it worse. It could create poverty traps in that people who leave welfare and then have to go back on will get less than before, so they may choose to just stay on welfare perpetually. This measure would not pass in the current Senate.
Superannuation - they’re curbing high-income concessions and reducing super tax for low earners. It’s progressive and seems like a reasonable way to meet their objective of turning into super into a pure retirement-funding scheme (as opposed to a tax lurk).
Infrastructure funding extended to rail projects and not just roads: a good thing. Another break from Abbott.
Reversing some of the cuts to schools and hospitals. We should welcome that.
The huge gap is that housing speculators will still get tax breaks and use of negative gearing. No other country favours housing speculation in this way. Speculation is not investment and its losses shouldn’t need to be offset by taxpayers. We really need to stop sacrificing our labour, our productive economy, and our savings at the altar of the housing market. We’ll only ever have the same amount of land no matter how much we spend on it. If we want the economy to do better we should be directing our funds to productive things which we don’t already own.
We would also like to see a proper FTTP NBN. It will create an asset which can sold to recover much of the funds. Whatever costs remain will be more than met by the benefits.
Some analysis is revealing the mooted HECS change to instead consider household-income to be a bit of a nightmare, mostly depending on the threshold. Clearly if there is to be a ‘household’ threshold it should be significantly higher than the personal threshold, and also be limited to parents and partners and the like.
In particular, there needs to be worried about (possibly single) parents retraining once their kids are old enough.
For a side note, a budget surplus could be restored in one year by:
Removing drug patents, which would in turn allow the PBS to be removed ($9b saved each year once public drug research funding is allowed for).
Shaking wasteful spending out of the defence budget and setting ASIO back to its 2008 funding ($5b saved each year)
Cancelling the private health insurance rebate ($2b saved each year once added use of the public system is allowed for)
Setting per-student private school funding back to the 1996 level ($4b saved each year)
Abolishing Newstart client monitoring and various rubbish “employment services” ($2b saved each year)
Requiring pensioners with >$1m on hand to self-fund ($14b saved each year)
Ditching other wasteful stuff—grants to elite sports, war on drugs crapola, data retention compensation, community pharmacy monopolies, tourism promotion, automotive industry assistance—etc (around $1b saved each year).
Responding to the specific case of funding a FTTP NBN, could money be saved by scrapping, recycling or selling the existing copper as it is replaced? How much is Telstra’s copper network worth and can it be acquired or otherwise utilised in such a fashion?
Alternatively, what about bringing in a third party (such as Google fibre) and contracting the job out to them? It could be done in a similar way to the toll roads, where they are given exclusive rights to rent out or charge for use of the network as they see fit, on the condition that it be sold or otherwise turned over to the government after a set date. This method has the advantage of minimising or even outright avoiding the initial upfront costs but could conceivably result in the government being forced to purchase an outdated or derelict piece of infrastructure should it be mis-negotiated.
David, while I like your suggestions I think you need to consider the political influence of the Australian Christian Lobby, The religious vote is relatively small but very vocal and selling this to them would be difficult. (but perhaps not impossible…)
Although the superannuation tax changes are a modest step in the right direction, unless you also wind back negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, the effect is to create an even greater incentive for high income or wealthy individuals to continue inflating the housing bubble. People complain about the constant tinkering with superannuation, but I don’t think the country can afford to continue with the status quo as created by the Howard government during the mining boom. It would be best to have one ‘big bang’ reform that put the system onto a fair and financially affordable basis for the long term, ideally with the agreement of all sides of politics.
Attitudes are changing about organised superstitions and many humans are quietly rejecting them. What you hear from the ACL are death echoes of last century thinking and vast herds of internet apes are seeing the cost of “religious privilege”. Of course, so does the Pirate Party. From the Tax and Welfare Policy…
Remove ‘advancement of religion’ as a charitable activity for the purpose of determining tax exemption.
The Sex and Secular parties also support this Charities Act reform.
The “religious vote” isn’t the audience. The audience is the “none’s”, those electronic apes relieved of dogmatic servitude by: internet. We need to be louder, and smarter. $30 billion income from this Charities Act reform could just about pay for a new FTTP NBN, each and every year.
The short answer is “Bugger all” as the majority of the cost comes from labour, not materials and has all ready been factored into the costing of the roll out as most of the time they just slide the fibre in alongside the copper before taking the copper out.
Telstra also cannot be forced to handover or sell its existing network which is why the original plan was to build a new network from from scratch without their input.
Australian anti-competition/monopoly laws do not allow for this sort of thing and in the case of tolls, all the money goes back to the government, not to the construction companies as they tender to build the project for a fixed cost.
If they had stuck with the original plan it would nearly be finished and would have probably only blown over by 50%
I was in specialist support for Telstra when they were trying to be involved with the NBN back in 2013-14 and was on the change over support team for South Brisbane Exchange when it had to be converted to fibre to make room for the new children’s hospital
It is ridiculous that the US and UK are predominantly investing in research on new types of armoured vehicles to protect ground troops from IEDs and RPGs and we are spending billions buying into a second rate jack-of-all-trades semi-stealth fighter.