The Federal Budget always causes industry shake-ups and this year’s is no exception. The government said this budget would be the worst in living memory, but what exactly does that mean for Australia’s workforce? Here’s a snapshot of what’s in and what’s out for 2009 and beyond.
The budget predicts unemployment will hit 8.25 per cent by 2011 – meaning one million Australians will be jobless. Treasurer Wayne Swan says that number would be closer to 10 per cent if it wasn’t for the stimulus spending since October, claiming the government has saved more than
200 000 jobs.
$1.5 million will be spent on the recently unveiled jobs and training compact to get all young people out of the dole queue and either earning or learning. The plan aims to see 100 per cent of Australians under the age of 25 either in training programs or employment.
The government has vowed to create an extra 50 000 university places over the next four years, greater access for the disadvantaged and improved income support for financially-disadvantaged students. Five billion dollars will be spent on student research and innovation in order to improve the skills of the workforce and boost productivity.
Despite a record deficit, this budget will pour more money into infrastructure projects than any budget since the Second World War. The $22 billion nation building program covers roads, rail and ports, education, health and hospitals and aims to create 15 000 jobs.
Skilled migration numbers will be slashed by a further 20 per cent to ensure Australian workers aren’t beaten out of local jobs. The government has already announced changes to skilled migration this year – trimming the number of skilled workers to be accepted into Australia next financial year by 14 per cent to 115 000, the first reduction in more than a decade.
The new budget means Australians will be working longer, with the government extending the retirement age from 65 to 67 from 2023. The government says the historic move had to be made because the aged population is growing while the workers supporting them with taxes is shrinking.
The property sector is a big budget winner. The first home owners grant boost will be extended for another six months, but at a reduced rate after three months, giving a continued boost to the sector. Tax incentives will also be given to encourage the construction of rental properties, more than 800 new defence homes will be built for military personnel and their families, and more than $6 billion will go towards repairing 45 000 run-down housing commission homes and building 20 000 new ones.
Small business also came out a big winner, with an existing tax break increased to 50 per cent. The government said it was in recognition that small businesses represent 95 per cent of all business and employed 50 per cent of the private sector.
From 2011 the Government will introduce paid parental leave for 18 weeks at the minimum wage – around $540 a week. In opting for the plan, working mums and dads forfeit the right to receive the baby bonus and certain family tax benefits.