Federal Budget 2024: Jim Chalmers promises to take the sting out of high prices

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed the figures in a Mother’s Day media blitz spruiking how women would be the big beneficiaries of his third Budget.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed the figures in a Mother’s Day media blitz spruiking how women would be the big beneficiaries of his third Budget. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

Childcare and aged care workers will get a multi-billion dollar wages boost in Tuesday’s Budget, while the pledge to pay superannuation on taxpayer-funded paid parental leave will cost the Budget $1.1 billion plus $623 million a year.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed the figures in a Mother’s Day media blitz spruiking how women would be the big beneficiaries of his third Budget.

He confirmed the Budget will set aside billions of dollars to fund a pay rise in the chronically underpaid childcare sector, as The West Australian revealed last week.

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The final amount will depend on a Fair Work Commission ruling in its annual wage review, expected in June.

Dr Chalmers has also hinted at more cost-of-living support such as boosts to payments for pensioners and others on fixed incomes and an extension of the power bill rebates given last year.

But his watchwords this year are relief and restraint.

“It will be a responsible Budget,” he told Seven’s Weekend Sunrise.

“It’ll be a Budget for mums and middle Australia, a Budget for families and pensioners and students and young people, which recognises the pressures that people are under.”

The $107b revamped tax cuts, which take effect in July, are the centrepiece of the relief but Dr Chalmers said the Government has also “found a couple of other ways, important ways to take some of the sting out of these cost-of-living pressures”.

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Australian Finance Minister Katy Gallagher pose for photographs on the roof of Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher. Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

The tax cuts will now go to every taxpayer.

However, Dr Chalmers said there would be help for people on pensions and welfare payments as well.

“We’re not going to leave them out. We’re not going to leave them behind,” he said.

Last year’s Budget included a $40-a-fortnight boost to JobSeeker and other welfare payments and a 15 per cent increase in rent assistance.

Further relief would not be identical to what was included last year, Dr Chalmers said — although the Treasurer is keeping close to his chest what might be repeated in terms of household power bill relief.

The WA Government’s Budget handed down on Thursday included a fourth round of power bill credits, worth $400, for 1.1 million households and small businesses in the State.

Unions have warned they are looking for “real cost-of-living measures in this budget”, ACTU president Michele O’Neil said.

“Wage growth has finally turned around as a result of decisions made by the Albanese Government, and we expect the 2024 Budget to continue to deliver on the economic conditions that support higher wages,” she said.

The Coalition promised after the Government reshaped the stage three tax cuts that it would release its own significant tax reform package before the election.

But shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said on Sunday “the best way to get personal income taxes back to where they need to be” was to act on inflation.

“We said we’ll deliver a tax package before the next election which is in keeping with the stage three tax cuts,” he said.

“Critical to that is making sure that we don’t see the insidious creep of income taxes ... But we’ve also been very clear, we’ve made very clear, we need to see more private sector investment.”

He pointed to the Coalition’s policy to reinstate accelerated asset depreciation for small and medium businesses as “a very crucial indicator of where we’re going” with the tax plan.

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