The Federal Budget is good so far as it starts to address serious problems in areas as diverse as aged care, the NDIS, mental health, skilling workers, childcare and the treatment of women.
Yes it’s regrettable that it’s taken a global pandemic; the shocking revelations of the abuse of women, older Australians and those with a disability; and the looming election to force such a budget. But to be fair this is a welcome change in direction by a conservative government.
Tasmania will benefit from a boost in GST and specific purpose payments, and the tax relief I helped deliver for small brewers and distillers. Hobart is also among the most popular destinations in the half-price airfare promotion that has sold 660,000 tickets.
However there are still significant gaps in the Budget, for example the lack of effective action on the housing crisis, protecting the environment and climate change. Moreover government pensions and payments, in particular JobSeeker, Age Pension and Disability Support Pension, remain poverty by design.
Tasmanians in particular will be disgusted but hardly surprised by the pork barrelling in the Budget. For instance the Government is again throwing millions at the highways in the marginal seats of Bass and Braddon, while failing to address the traffic congestion in Hobart, urgency of setting up the Antarctic precinct at Macquarie Point and undertaking the next stage of the Royal Hobart Hospital rebuild. What’s left to do on the Bass Highway anyway? Diamond-encrusted cat’s eyes?
Of course this Federal Budget rests on a population-wide vaccination program being in place by the end of the year and international tourism gradually recovering late next year. This will be the real test for the Federal Government, and one the public is counting on it to pass.