Federal Budget 2014: Find out what it means for you | Live blog

Find out what the federal budget means for you and the Illawarra. 

9.45pm: That's it from us this evening. Mercury reporter Kate McIlwain was in the budget lock up on Tuesday.

Read her take on the budget papers here.

9.28pm: SMH Economics Editor Ross Gittins comments: 

This budget isn't as bad as Labor will claim and the Liberal heartland will privately think. It's undoubtedly the toughest budget since John Howard's post-election budget in 1996, but it's hardly austerity economics.

I give Joe Hockey's first budgetary exam a distinction on management of the macro economy, a credit on micro-economic reform and a fail on fairness.

Read more here.


9.20pm: Read the full text of the 2014 budget speech delivered by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey here.


8.54pm: ALEX ARNOLD - Kim Griffin, a sole parent from East Corrimal, said it was always hard to interpret the reality from the rhetoric. 

‘‘What was interesting for me was to hear that universities will be allowed to set their own fees. I think that could be a scary thing and potentially problematic. I work in a university environment and have children about to enter a university environment. What that means in terms of fees and quality of education I just don’t know. I think changes to Family Tax Benefit B will impact on families significantly. I am a bit shocked by that. There seems to be little recognition of the time and effort it takes to raise a child.’’

Kim Griffin. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Kim Griffin. Picture: ROBERT PEET


8.40pm: KATE McILWAIN -  New taxes, medical levies and huge structural changes to pensions, unemployment benefits and the higher education system are part of this year's budget. BUT despite the delivery of an $11.6 billion infrastructure growth package, the region did not rate a mention once in the budget papers. Read more from Mercury reporter Kate McIlwain here.


8.30pm: ALEX ARNOLD - Barrack Heights student Alannah Kejda thought it was interesting the government was introducing a new tax, but calling it ‘‘a levy’’, even if it is for people earning over $180,000. 

‘‘It seems silly to get rid of one tax [the carbon tax] and create another tax for political reasons considering there were environmental benefits with the carbon tax. Even though the maternity leave payments have been reduced I think it is silly to pay a percentage of a wage. The maternity leave money would be better spent on childcare. With regards to people having to work until 70, although the economy will grow, the workforce will stay larger for longer and I am concerned the youth unemployment issue will exacerbated, and this is already a problem in the Illawarra.’’

Alannah Kejda. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Alannah Kejda. Picture: ROBERT PEET

8.28pm: And, more job losses are coming for the Australian Public Service.

The APS has been primed for this, but the number is still big.

16,500 jobs will go across the four years to 2016-17. This includes the “previously hidden” 14,500 reduction “as a result of decisions taken by the previous government,” says the budget overview.

The government is also “systematically assessing whether government functions should be open to competition and outsourced”.

There is more money for Defence ...

A new white paper in 2015 will set out how to increase Defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP. (Although the paper will also be tasked with reducing waste and speeding up decision-making.)

Today’s budget also brings forward $1.5 billion spending from 2017-18 to earlier years.

“This will help Defence to invest in the capability needed to strengthen” the ADF.

... but less money for overseas aid.

Growth will be cut, to make a saving of $7.9 billion a year.

8.27pm: The budget would not be the budget without some inter-government manouvering.

This includes the announcement that:

Responsibility for public hospitals and schools will be pushed back to the states

“The extent of existing Commonwealth funding to public hospitals and schools ... is unaffordable," the government’s budget overview says.

So, the Coalition will take “sensible indexation arrangements” for schools from 2018 and hospitals from 2017-18.

It will also remove funding guarantees for public hospitals.

All up, this will save $80 billion by 2024-25.

8.24pm: ANGELA THOMPSON - UOW Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings: 

"They're reducing the amount of money ... in the Commonwealth Grant Scheme by about 20 per cent. It's a very large cut to the Commonwealth investment and the implication is that student fees would rise over time to compensate for that change. 

UOW vice-chancellor Paul Wellings. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

UOW vice-chancellor Paul Wellings. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO


8.14pm: ANGELA THOMPSON - South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said he expected a budget that punished everyone except for the big end of town and he wasn't disappointed.

''For regional Australia it’s particularly tough - tough on our kids who can't find work, who will be punished for problems not of their own making. It will be tough for the pensioners and it will be tough for families, particularly those in need of more regular medical care. If the Abbott Government had told Australia last year that it was going to deliver this attack on the country, there is no way on earth they would have been elected. That’s what makes this budget the greatest act of deception that we have seen in this country for many decades.''

South Coast Labour Council secretar Arthur Rorris in August. Picture: ROBERT PEET

South Coast Labour Council secretar Arthur Rorris in August. Picture: ROBERT PEET


8.05pm: HEALTH: Savings in health go towards a big brave new “Medical Research Future Fund”.

The government is set to build a $20 billion fund that will within six years, “be the biggest medical research endowment fund in the world,” says the Treasurer.

It will help find treatments for diseases like dementia, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

For each $7 patient contribution, $5 will be reinvested in the fund. And funds to the fund will start flowing from next year.

8.04pm: At the end of his first budget speech, the Treasurer said the budget “must always be about people”.

“I say to the Australian people, every dollar we spend in this parliament comes from you. If we can get on with the job of fixing this budget, then you and your family will benefit ...

 “We are a nation of lifters, not leaners,” says Joe Hockey, signing off.

“So tonight, we present you with a budget that delivers a sustainable future for your children and generations beyond.”

The government benches give the Treasurer a hearty hear, hear for his first budget speech.

And he gets a handshakes and kisses from the Coalition front bench.

There is a big smile and nod from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

8.03pm: HEALTH: There were also big cuts and changes flagged for health care. And there was a reason for that.

Turns out, all those reports about a GP co-payment were right. From July 2015, previously bulk-billed patients “can expect to contribute $7” toward the cost of their GP visits and out-of-hospital pathology and imaging services.

And there will be higher payments for drugs.

From January 2015, general patients will pay an extra $5 toward the cost of a PBS prescription. If you have a concession card, make than an extra 80 cents.

The PBS safety net for all patients will also be increased from January 2015. A general patient and their family will now pay “an expected” $145.30 more to reach the safety net.

After this, they can buy drugs at the concessional rate.

Those on concession cards will pay “an expected” $61.80 more to reach the safety net.

8.01pm: #ThreeWordBudget - 

7.59pm: EDUCATION: Universities to set own tuition fees from 2016 but existing students keep current arrangements until 2020.

Fees will be repayable after students enter the workforce and earn $50,000.

$820 million will be allocated to expand access to higher education

7.55pm:ALEX ARNOLD - Windang pensioner Jean Maclean said if the government reduced some of the wastage and closes some of the departments that had been set up and not done much then that is a good thing. 

‘‘I think we are going in the right direction. I think what Joe Hockey is trying to do is necessary. I don’t think pensioners will be terribly disadvantaged which I was worried about.’’

Jean Maclean from Windang. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Jean Maclean from Windang. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

7.52pm: YOUTH: Young people get singled out for particular attention in 2014-15.

The government has been playing up the rhetoric around getting young people off benefits and into the workforce in the lead up to the budget. 

“Young people should be learning, or earning,” it keep saying.

And so, Hockey has announced that: Young people under 25 will not be able to get Newstart if they are unemployed.

The government had already suggested this before the budget, and as predicted, from January 2015, those under 25 will be eligible for the (lower) Youth Allowance payment instead.

And: Young people under 30 will have to wait six months to get the dole and then have to work for the payment.

From January 2015, those under 30 will have to participate in “job search and employment services activities” (which are funded by the government) before receiving Youth Allowance or Newstart.

After six months, jobseekers will also have to do at least 25 hours a week of work for the dole “activities” to get their payment.

There will be exemptions for young people who are training, who have a disability or who are parents.

7.49pm:  FAMILIES: Family payments will stay – but it will be harder to get them.

The income threshold for Family Tax Benefit B (which provides assistance to sole parents and families where a parent stays at home) will drop from $150,000 to $100,000 from July 2015 – in a change similar to the Audit Commission’s recommendation.

Payments will only be made until the youngest child turns 6.  At the moment, parents can access the payment until the youngest child turns 16, or 18 if they are still in full-time high school.

Low income single parents will receive a “new assistance” of $750 a year for every child they have between 6 and 12.

“Staying at home should be a parent’s choice, but there are limits on how much support the taxpayer can give,” Hockey has told the parliament.

The rates of both Family Tax Benefit A (a payment made per child to assist with the costs of kids) and FTB- B will “remain at current rates for two years” (until June 2016).

Also: large families will have to be larger to get a supplement

The large family supplement currently pays out $12.04 a fortnight for the third and each subsequent child in a family. From July 1 2015, it will only be paid for the fourth and each subsequent child. 

7.45pm: Twitter is challenging you to describe the 2014 budget in three words. Here's a few beauties - 

7.42pm: PENSION AGE: Pensions will change, but not until 2017.

The Coalition has already pledged that there will be no changes to the age pension in this term of government.

But come September 2017, pensions (which include the age pension and the disability support pension) will be indexed at a lower level – pegged to inflation rather than wages growth.

This will bring them in line with government payments like Newstart.

Eligibility thresholds will be paused for three years to “assist in meeting the rising costs of providing the pension”.

NB. Hockey has already announced that the government will increase the age pension age from 67 by July 2023 to 70 by July 2035. And this too, is included in the budget.

7.40pm: TAX CHANGES: Temporary budget repair levy income tax increase of 2 per cent for for high income earners over $180,000 from July 1 for three years. Fuel excise indexation re-introduced from August 1, 2014

The carbon tax and mining tax will be abolished.

7.35pm: According to the budget, the federal deficit will fall from $49.9 billion to $29.8 billion next year.

By 2017-18, it will be $2.8 billion.

Hockey will say that the government’s decisions have “contributed $36 billion towards this improvement”.

Over the next ten years, the debt will fall from $667 billion to $389 billion.

7.18pm: The federal government is about to hand down its 2014/15 budget.

Watch Treasuruer Joe Hockey's budget address from 7.30pm and stay with us throughout the evening to find out how this year's federal budget will impact the Illawarra.



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