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The Albanese Government’s third budget handed down tonight tells a story of enormous missed opportunity, containing little meaningful reform and sticking to the small stuff while delaying action on the big pressing problems.

ACT Independent Senator David Pocock said the government had overlooked spending in critical areas that would not have impacted inflation, while squandering money in others.

“The Budget fails to adequately respond to the huge challenges facing Australians today, from housing to men’s violence against women, cost-of-living and climate,” Senator Pocock said.

“The Government has ignored for the second year in a row the expert advice of the independent Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee to substantially lift income support payments, showing they are prepared to leave people behind.

“Failing to means-test the $300 energy relief payment wastes precious government revenue that could be spent supporting those who can’t afford to buy food.

“Even investments in our future miss the mark. Household electrification was a core pillar of the US Inflation Reduction Act but is totally absent from the Future Made in Australia policy.

“Saving households up to $5000 year on year through electrification would have been a far better investment than a one-off payment that also goes to people who don’t need the help. 

“Providing production tax incentives to hydrogen and critical minerals but no production credits for renewable energy manufacturing misses an opportunity to accelerate the transition.

“New investments in Nature, especially invasive species management and preventing species extinction are embarrassingly low to non-existent. There is no way the government can make good on the promise of no new extinctions without investing in Nature.

“The new money going into health, aged care and the cost of medicines is very welcome, but the funding for mental health is hardly at the scale needed to confront the crisis we’re in. The largest investment is to establish a digital mental health service, which will support just 150,000 Australians each year. While welcome, this won’t put a dent in waiting lists or reduce pressure on hospitals who are seeing more mental health emergencies coming through their doors.”

“It’s good to see an urgent $44.1m funding injection for community legal centres but disappointing that there was no real investment in family and domestic violence beyond the Leaving Violence program and re-purposed housing funding already announced.

“No further funding for food pantries who are experiencing record demand is a real blow.

“On housing we are seeing some clever accounting but not the big new investments that are so desperately needed.

“Community Housing Providers have 60,000 dwellings coming down the pipeline - the government should be providing support to deliver them all as soon as possible and extending existing affordability schemes. 

“A 10% rise to Commonwealth Rent Assistance is less than $10 per week and won’t help 60% of renters.

“There’s next to nothing for small business other than a $325 energy bill rebate for 40 per cent of small businesses  and extending the instant asset write-off threshold increase from the last budget, which still hasn’t been legislated.

“Students have been completely let down by the timidity of what’s on offer.  

“While the rate of indexation might be lowered it looks like the timing won’t change so students will still get charged indexation on amounts of HECS-HELP already paid back.

“Placement poverty will continue for students outside of nursing, teaching, social work and midwifery and while $350m for fee-free university-ready courses is welcome, without reform to Job Ready Graduates we are just setting these students up for huge debt.

“I’m disappointed there wasn’t more investment in the ACT after decades of neglect and the big game Labor has been talking. 

“We’re still getting almost 20 per cent less than our per-capita share of infrastructure funding in 2024-25.

“Aside from the AIS, there is nothing major on the table to help deal with Caberra’s pressing problems like access to a GP or funding the big future-building projects our city needs.

“The Treasurer said ‘the number one priority of this Government and this Budget is helping Australians with the cost of living’, but it's hard to see how that is reflected in the Budget he has handed down tonight.”


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