Budget 2018

So the big news this week is Budget 2018. We were all glued to our television sets on Tuesday night to see Treasurer Scott Morrison (or ScoMo, as the tasteless insist on calling him) to hear the government’s economic plans for the future. Weren’t we?

We’ll do a deep dive into the budget and Bill Shorten’s reply next week. There is a lot to cover, including some potential tax relief for you as soon as next year. But here’s the big news:

  • Big tax reform, starting with more money for those earning up to $37,000 a year, who will see their tax bill reduced by $200.
  • The plan is to slowly move everyone who earns between $40,000 and $200,000 a year to paying around 32% of their wage in tax. The government wants to do this over seven years, but will start immediately with those earning up to $90,0000 to move from paying 37% to 32% – a drop that could see you save $10 a week.
  • There’ll be no increase to Newstart. And the Department of Human Services – who run Centrelink – are losing 1,280 jobs. Waiting periods will increase for some new migrants applying for welfare payments. There’s more money going into measures to make sure people aren’t scamming the welfare system.
  • The government reckons there’ll be a huge boost – about $5 billion over four years – from cracking down on the ‘black market’ economy. It will limit cash payments of $10,000 to businesses for goods and services, and initiate a taskforce targeting sectors with under reported income.
  • There’s a lot of money going into mental health services. $338 million into suicide prevention, $83 million for psychological services in residential aged care, $125 million in new research.
  • Uni students living away from their parents will now find it easier to access youth allowance.
  • The ABC will be losing $84 million, bringing the total number of cuts to $254 million since 2014.
  • The government is freezing the amount of foreign aid. They currently spend $4 billion a year on developmental assistance overseas. They will freeze that number until 2022 (so it won’t grow as the economy grows).
  • A number of medications will now be a lot cheaper to access, including several for a number of cancers, HIV and Multiple sclerosis.

If you simply can’t wait for next week’s deep dive, check out ABC’s Winners and Losers here, or their pretty interactive graph showing where all the money is going.

Make no mistake, the big headline is the tax reform. That’s a massive proposition. Most commentary suggests that this is a budget with an election in mind. The Turnbull government, behind in the polls, would like you to think they’re great, so they’re trying to cut your tax.

Labor are on board with cutting your tax – if you’re a middle income earner. But they want to hold off on instituting the seven years of reforms. Bill Shorten just delivered his reply last night, and he put his stake in the ground by claiming Labor would double some of the tax cuts to middle income earners. He also suggests the Lib’s plan will most benefit the ‘top end of town’. He’s thrown money to public hospitals and TAFE. We’ll do a full comparison next week.

Citizenship stuff-up

On Wednesday, federal politicians struggled to keep a hold of the media spotlight on the budget, because we entered into phase six hundred and forty-seven of the citizenship saga.

We did a deep dive into the messy citizenship stuff-up when it first arose last year. That first round of rulings wiped out a bunch of politicians. During that time, Labor remained stead-fast in their opinion that their party would be unaffected, stating that their candidates properly check their records before running for election.

Everything came down to Katy Gallagher, a Labor Senator, who at first believed she was safe because she had made all reasonable attempts to revoke her citizenship while running for election.

But everyone was caught off guard when the High Court ruled that wasn’t enough. Technically speaking, Gallagher was still a dual citizenship at the time of the election, and so she was ineligible to sit in Parliament.

Three other Labor MPs were relying on this same defence. Gallagher and the three other resigned immediately – triggering by-elections (special, one-off elections) in the four seats around the country. They are: Fremantle WA, Braddon TAS, Longman QLD and Mayo SA. All but Fremantle are marginal seats, meaning they could spin either way. This could have a potentially large affect on how the Turnbull government thinks about calling the next federal election.

The elections will most likely happen in July.

Trump: Korea and Iran

Trump will reportedly sit down with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un next week. Ahead of the meeting, Kim Jong-Un released three American political prisoners, who arrived back on home soil just yesterday. Mr. Trump has apparently suggested he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, and has criticised Obama for not securing the release of the three prisoners – even though two of them were imprisoned after Mr Trump took office.

In other news, despite friendly cajoling from France and Germany, Trump withdrew America from the Iran Nuclear Deal this week. We did a deep dive into Iran and the true impact of their nuclear deal that you can read here. Trump’s withdraws signals concerns for a Middle East nuclear arms race that is likely to make Israel, Suadi Arabia and Russia very nervous. Trump wants a new deal with Iran. A “really good one”. If Iran refuses to negotiate, he says, “something will happen”.

He’s a poet, ain’t he?

David Goodall

David Goodall, aged 104, was Australia’s oldest scientist. He died yesterday at his own choosing. He flew to Switzerland, where he was allowed to legally end his own life. In his final hours, he ate fish and chips and cheesecake. He died listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

We’ll be back next week.

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Photo at the top thanks to Guardian Media Services.

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