Australian Politics

Students React to the 2018 Federal Budget

Three UWA students react to the new Federal Budget released on Tuesday, with changes to the tax system and the ABC emerging as key issues.

Desiree Durrani (Communications and Political Science/International Relations student):

While I can understand why the government would give tax cuts to the low- and middle-income taxpayers and commit $24.5 billion to improving road and rail projects across Australia, I am deeply concerned about the cuts to public broadcasting.

I refer to the $84 million cut to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). As a Communications major, it worries me that the government seems to think that a broadcaster that needs government funding to produce quality news and programs isn’t worth investing in; apparently because it’s a ‘dying’ form of media and that money is better spent.

While the latter may be true, cutting funding from public broadcasting is by no means a good way to go. Public broadcasters need funding to invest in state-of-the-art equipment in order to keep up with the demand for instantaneous information; this would also mean to help journalists and the production team be more productive in a world where modern technology is taking centre-stage and is transforming the way we live.

It’s appalling to see that the government is cutting funding in the hope that the company will “live within their means” and find “back-office efficiencies”. In order to do that, they need to devote time and resources to make sure they re-evaluate – and that is a huge opportunity cost!

As a public broadcaster, the ABC has a duty to deliver quality programs and news reports to the Australian public, and it cannot do so if the government keeps cutting its funding and not allowing the ABC to find alternative means because of its “public” status.

Nicholas Cokis (Economics and Political Science/International Relations student):

In the lead up to next year’s election, it’s no surprise that at the forefront of this year’s budget is a tax cut that is going to effect more than 10 million Australians next year. I think pork barrelling voters is pretty much expected from any government leading up to an election, but the most anyone is going to receive from this cut is $520 a year. If you’re going to butter up the electorate you might need more than a smallish tax cut, especially when the government is offering a better deal to businesses, who will get a 5% cut to company tax rate.

You do have to commend the government on the nature of the tax cut itself however; it’s not trying to cheat its way into giving cuts to the highest income earners. Those who get the majority of the cuts will be on lower- to middle-incomes. The Government’s plans to ease the burden of bracket creeping should also be admired, but this seemingly good policy is made up for by their plans for a new tax bracket scheme which would see the middle tax bracket eliminated. Under the new system, incomes from $80 000 to $200 000 will only pay 32.5% as opposed to 37.5% tax. This change highly favours the top 50% of workers in the country and amounts to quite a significant tax cut before we’ve actually returned to budget surplus.

Cuts to the ABC are also particularly worrying, given the Coalition’s track record on ‘left-wing bias’ witch hunts against the ABC. Cuts to foreign aid are never ideal, and it’s also sad to see $247 million dollars still being awarded to the very broken national chaplaincy program. Meanwhile, no changes to higher education means that the cuts announced last December will remain in place. I do find it hard to buy the government’s logic on the necessity for increasing financial burden on young students, while somehow still being able to introduce tax cuts to the top 50% of the country over the next few years.

Overall, this is a budget with quite a few things to be upset about, but at the same time there are some things I think we can all agree are pretty fair.

Ian Tan (Political Science/International Relations and History student):

It is great to see a Budget which will back hard-working and aspirational Australians. Real tax-relief, the first in years, will give back up to $530 for middle income Australians for them to spend on what matters most.

It is also good to see the Budget in a better and stronger position, capitalising on strong growth to drive us back into surplus one year earlier than expected and for us to start repaying back our debt. It was also great to see more investment into mental health services, to protect the Great Barrier Reef and for national security while guaranteeing continued growth in funding for health and education.

There is nothing sexy about this Budget – disappointingly, most of the key changes to the tax system won’t kick in for another five/six years. This is a safe Budget, but it is a Budget which aligns to Liberal values: backing hard-working and aspirational Australians, creating opportunity, lower taxes and a government which lives within its means. It is only right that if families have to work hard and make sacrifices to balance the books at the end of the month, governments must too.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of UWA State, the UWA Politics Club, or any affiliates. 

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