GRACosway Weekly Policy Wrap Up

15 May 2015

Treasurer Joe Hockey handed down the Coalition Government’s second budget on Tuesday night, revealing a 2015-16 budget deficit of $35.1 billion and new spending initiatives aimed in particular at families and small businesses.  See GRACosway’s comprehensive coverage from the night here.

In stark contrast to last year’s document where Treasurer Hockey set out major changes in higher education, health and welfare, this year’s budget was considerably more ‘dull’ in most portfolio areas.  With a 1.5 per cent tax cut for small business, and a new measure to allow small businesses to instantly write off purchases up to $20,000, Treasurer Hockey tried to talk up economic conditions and encouraged people ‘to get out there and have a go’.

Following the budget, the Government spent the rest of the week on the airwaves to spruik its jobs and small business initiative and its families package, which includes new money and changes to childcare from 2017.  Senior Ministers were also forced to defend the Government’s policy to remove any ‘double dipping’ to prevent women accessing both government and employer provided paid parental leave schemes.  Following the budget, Prime Minister Tony Abbott also ruled out making adverse changes to super, even beyond the next election.

Elsewhere in the budget, the Government has confirmed it will look at selling the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission company registry, however ruled out selling Defence Housing Australia.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivered his budget reply speech on Thursday night where he said the Opposition would cooperate with the Government on its small business package, but not help in delivering new money for childcare because the funding is tied to changes from last year’s budget to tighten family support payments.  Shorten promised that a Labor Government would create a $500 million Smart Investment Fund and encourage students to study science technology, engineering and maths.

With the budget now out of the way, the Northern Australia White Paper is expected next month, and the Tax White Paper process will continue with submissions closing in June.  The Government will also release its Defence White Paper in the middle of the year.

WA Treasurer Mike Nahan handed down his second budget this week, and the seventh of the Barnett Government.  The Budget reveals the impact of the economic downturn on the State’s finances, with confirmation that the State is to record its first budget deficit in 15 years.  GRA Everingham has produced budget briefs giving an overview of the budget (download here), and separate briefs looking at key services (here), the transport portfolio (here), and environment and related portfolios (here).

Queensland and WA parliaments sit next week.

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