The 5 Big Thinky-Thoughts From The 2020 Federal Budget

In case you missed it, last night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the federal government’s 2020-2021 budget. While mostly aimed at delivering coronavirus relief, the budget was the first after a deadly bushfire season and during a time where we’re facing as bad, if not worse, of a recession as The Great Depression.

So, what exactly was in the federal budget and what are the big takeaways as a young person? Keep reading to find out.

Mental Health: The Government Said Mental Health Support? Yes ❤️

Okay, let’s talk about the best takeaway from the 2020 federal budget: mental health services are getting a boost. Per the Department of Health, for the next two years, you’ll be able to get an additional 10 Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions on top of your existing mental health plan. Because, y’know, this year has been fucked and you deserve it. 

The government is also spending $74 million towards immediate mental health support, including a dedicated coronavirus support line delivered by Beyond Blue, more staff on the ready at Lifeline and Kids Helpline, and support for socially isolated young people and Indigenous Australians. 

Also, according to Adelaide Now, if you’re living at home, you can stay on your parents’ health plan until you’re 31-years-old. Prior to the budget, once you turned 24, you were on your own.

Environment: No Extra Funding To Clean Energy In The Same Year As Our Country’s Worst Bushfire Crisis

Unsurprisingly, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s speech had very little to say about climate change. I mean, he literally said they were throwing “$1.9 billion in new funding as part of our energy plan to support low emissions and renewable technologies, helping to lower emissions and address climate change,” in the same breath as mentioning that they were planning to “help unlock five key gas basins.” And, only $52m of that $1.9b will help reduce our carbon emissions.

In a year where we’ve seen the worst bushfire crisis in Australian history, it’s disappointing to see that the budget doesn’t include an increase to the previously proposed plan for cleaner energy. As in, the plan to switch from one dirty energy (coal) to a slightly cleaner one (gas) instead of actual clean energy solutions (solar, wind and hydro). As RenewEconomy explains, the extraction of fossil gas is so emissions intensive that it is now the “primary driver” of our country’s national climate impact. 

It’s as Richie Merzian, of the Australian Institute, told The Guardian: “[the budget] “confirms the government’s commitment to fossil fuels with token support for renewables on the side.”

Other additions include a $249m boost for waste and recycling industries, $155.6m over four years for farmers and communities hit by drought and $47.4m over the next four years aimed at reviving ocean reefs and our country’s ocean health. 

Tax cuts: budget 2020 said we all deserve a little extra cash, as a treat

The federal government’s 2020 budget will see us all pay a little less tax, including, for some reason, the very rich 🙄.

The threshold for the lowest tax rate of 19% will be pushed up from $37,000 to $45,000—so if you’re a full timer on minimum wage, you won’t be taxed! Then, the 32.5% threshold is being pushed from $90,00 to $120,000. 

That means that, basically:

  • If you earn up to $35,000 a year, you’ll pay $510 less in tax compared to what you paid in 2017-18.
  • If you earn from $40,000 to $45,000, you’ll save between $1,060 to $1,935.
  • If you earn from $50,000 to $85,000, you’ll save $2,160.
  • If you earn from $90,00 to $120,000, you’ll save between $2,295 to $2,595
  • And, uh, if you earn more than that, you’ll save $2,565, which is set to increase in coming years because fuck the poor apparently???

It should be noted that these tax cuts will only be for the next few years, unless you’re in the over $120,000 bracket. So, fuck my broke drag, right? On the brightside, maybe you can finally afford that brand spanking new PlayStation 5 console this year?

University: expect to spend less time and more money at uni

All we can say is, RIP to all you Bachelor of Arts majors out there. The federal budget has given practically no support to the humanities, meaning that uni students studying law and humanities are looking at paying up to 113% more for their degrees. Yikes

Per The Guardian, the federal government’s 2020 budget is pumping university research with $1bn in an attempt to save Australian universities who’ve suffered from the loss of international students. The proposal comes after The Guardian last week reported that Macquarie University in Sydney was cutting entire degrees in maths and science and more than half of the current majors offered in art, and as Monash University in Melbourne cuts 103 subjects. 

And, to get more people into the workforce and generate more potential employees from university, the government is also funding a whopping 50,000 online short courses in teaching, health, science, information technology and agriculture—y’know all industries that are in dire need of workers rn—spending a $251.8m between now and June 2022. It should be noted, however, that some of these fields generally require more than a short course to be a trained and skilled individual in their industry, but it’s a nice gesture to help upskill people. 

Then again, it wouldn’t be a liberal budget without continuing to try to commercialise industries (lmao) and ignoring the arts industries, as the government will also spend $5.8m before June 2021 on a “scoping study of potential options to accelerate the translation and commercialisation” of non-medical research, with a focus on “new partnerships between universities and industry and opportunities for investments.” Idk about you but that sounds like it’s skewed to engineering, business and finance faculties to me. 

Then again, it wouldn’t be a liberal budget without continuing to ignore the arts industries and turn everything into a profit, lmao. The government will also spend $5.8m before June 2021 on a “scoping study of potential options to accelerate the translation and commercialisation” of non-medical research, with a focus on “new partnerships between universities and industry and opportunities for investments.”

Jobs: The Government Is Literally Paying People To Hire You

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is rolling out the government’s replacement to JobKeeper, the JobMaker Hiring Credit in an attempt to target youth unemployment. 

So, the way it works is if you were one of the many 16-29 year olds who have been on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or Parenting Payment for at least one of the last three months, and start a new job between the 7th of October 2020 till the 6th of October 2021 and work at least 20 hours a week during that period, your boss is entitled to claim $200 each week. 

That lil bonus is what the government is banking on (huhuh get it), hoping that it’ll encourage more businesses to hire young people. “Treasury estimates that this will support around 450,000 jobs for young people,” Frydenberg said in his speech. 

But, as Greens leader Adam Bandt sees it, this wage subsidy will only fuel insecure, low-paid work as “throwing money at big corporations” and patting their corporate back for hiring young part-time workers and paying them minimum wage.  

“McDonald’s will be rubbing its hands together, but it gives zero job security for anyone trying to rebuild their lives,” he said. “

Header Image source: Sam Mooy (Getty Images)

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.