2024/25 Federal Budget Wrap-Up

On Tuesday 14 May 2024, the Treasurer, the Hon Dr Jim Chalmers MP, handed down the latest Federal Budget.

While there were many welcome announcements in this Budget, TasCOSS believes the Government got its priorities wrong, particularly choosing not to increase JobSeeker, and instead providing universal, rather than targeted, cost of living relief. In this ongoing cost of living crisis, it was a missed opportunity to put people with the least, first. 

Increasing the rate of JobSeeker would have been the simplest investment the Government could have made to reduce poverty in this country and it chose not to do so.

People receiving these payments already know a lot about ‘restraint’ — only eating one meal a day, skipping essential medication and foregoing heating in a desperate bid to afford their skyrocketing rents and mortgages.

In addition to the Government’s own appointed Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee advice, Australia’s leading economists also urged the Prime Minister to increase income support payments, noting the impact on inflation would be negligible. 

The decision to increase the Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 10% is welcome, but it falls well short of what is really needed and based on median rents means private renters will still be in deep housing stress because their base rate of payment is so low. Even with the increase, many will be paying half their income in rent alone. 

Experts also agree lifting the rates of JobSeeker and other income support payments is essential to improving rental affordability. 

Additional funding for social housing and homelessness is welcome but we need bolder action: Tasmania has the worst rental affordability, the lowest share of social housing, and the most homeless people in recent history. We need a temporary cap on rents, governments to build more social housing, and a curb on tax incentives for property developers.

We welcome bill relief for those struggling to afford their energy bills, but the $300 energy rebate announced for every household is untargeted, helping thousands of Tasmanian households who need it least. Relief measures should be targeted and support those with the greatest need. 

It was also welcome to see the commitment to fund the Fair Work Commission’s wage increase for the early childhood education and care workforce, which will help attract workers to an essential industry that needs more workers. 

A clear message from other peak bodies across the nation in response to the budget was, while there is very welcome relief on some cost of living pressures, what’s missing was structural change that would help address poverty and inequality in the long-term, such as by lifting the rate of JobSeeker, investment in preventing homelessness, and investment in energy efficient homes.

We’ve collated feedback and reactions to the Budget from the community services industry, which you can view at the following links:

If you’d like to get in touch with your response to the Budget or have any questions, please contact Stephen Durney, Senior Policy Officer, on (03) 6169 9508 or email Stephen.

More 2024/25 Federal Budget analysis and information: