We’ve summarised the key measures from the 2018-19 Federal Budget to look at what might impact your organisations, the sectors you work in and the daily lives of your employees.

The Federal Treasurer, The Hon. Scott Morrison handed down his third Budget at 7.30pm on 8 May (AEST). The overarching theme is focussed on tempering Government spending and tax cuts with a more pragmatic approach to deficit repair. We’ve highlighted the key measures most likely to affect either employers and/or their staff.

Key measures include:

  • Low to middle income tax relief
  • Baby boomer and aged-care measures
  • Deficit repair that balances spending with tax cuts
  • Cash injection to infrastructure projects
  • Improved fiscal position.

Full budget papers

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Measures summary

Tax relief measures targeted at lower and middle-income earners 
  • Tax relief and marginal tax rate bracket
    overhaul with the abolition of the 37% tax bracket so that 94% of Australian
    taxpayers earning between $41,000 and $200,000 will pay no more than 32.5 cents
    in the dollar – up from 63% previously.
  • Removal of the 0.5% increase to the Medicare Levy planned last year.
  • Seven–year personal income tax plan for lower, fairer and simpler taxes.
  • $200 - $530 “low and middle- income tax offset” for 4 years from 1 July 2018.
  • Revenue collected by the Government to be locked in at a maximum of 23.9% of GDP.
Greater provisions for aged-pensioners and baby boomers 
  • 14,000 additional home-care packages that help retirees stay healthier while remaining in their own homes.
  • Raising the cap on the Pensioner Work Bonus Scheme.
A budget surplus forecasted FY20
A $2.2 billion surplus a year earlier than expected in (Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook) MYEFO in 2019-20.
Boost to big infrastructure
$24.5 billion to the $75 billion already earmarked for big-ticket infrastructure projects Australia-wide.

Treasury media releases

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The cornerstone of the Budget’s health measures are plans to lock in its public hospital offering to the states. The plan is to fully fund a $30 billion, five-year public hospital agreement with states and territories for the years from 2020-21 to 2024-25. From 2020-21 to 2024-25, the new agreement will deliver $130.2 billion in public hospital funding.

From 1 July 2018, the Government will invest $106.8 million for an initial 18 months of an eight-year program of work to stabilise and consolidate health and aged care systems and provide a range of user benefits to consumers, health professionals and aged care providers.

The Government will provide a $4.8 billion investment to Medicare and a number of other medical procedures. Medicare spending will increase every year to 2021-22.

The Budget also includes funding commitment to the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). However, the Government is not proceeding with the previous plan to increase the Medicare Levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Following recent independent reviews of Medicare, new support will be provided for renal dialysis in remote communities, MRI scans for prostate cancer checks, a new 3D mammography test for the early detection of breast cancer and new genetic testing for cystic fibrosis.

Under a workforce overhaul announced in the Budget, 200 overseas-trained doctors working in primary care will be redeployed from the cities to rural areas, where they’re
more acutely needed.

Changes within the Budget, plus ongoing reforms are expected to help deliver an additional 3,000 doctors over the next decade. The Government has also decided to support a new Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network to get more students into regional communities.

The Murray Darling Medical Schools Network will provide end-to-end training in regional cities, via the University of NSW at Wagga Wagga, the University of Sydney at Dubbo, Monash University at Bendigo and Mildura, a partnership between Melbourne and La Trobe universities at Shepparton, Bendigo and Wodonga, and a partnership between Western Sydney and Charles Sturt universities at Orange.

There’s $1.4 billion over five years from 2017-18 for new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Listings. These include Spinal Muscular Atrophy which alone receives $241 million, which would have cost patients $367,850 a year. In line with a recent PBAC recommendation, the Government will list a breast cancer drug, which would otherwise have cost patients $71,820.

The Government is investing $338.1 million in mental health funding, including money for beyondblue’s Way Back Support Service to help people after a suicide attempt. There are also extra resources for the National Mental Health Commission and Royal Flying Doctor Service. Over the next 10 years, $125 million will be invested in new research to support an additional million people with mental illness, through new research, diagnosis and treatment.

Medical research will receive a major funding boost with $6 billion for Australia’s health and medical research sector, including $3.5 billion for the National Health and Medical Research Council, $2 billion in disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund and $500 million from the Biomedical Translation Fund.

The Budget also provides $248 million to support clinical trial activity through the rare cancer, rare diseases and unmet need clinical trials and registries program.

The Budget proposes $1.3 billion investment in National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan, largely funded from the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund. This will fund genomic research projects investigating medicines tailored to individual patients, clinical trials of new drugs and development of new medical technologies.

Budget funding of $3.9 billion from 2018-19 to 2021-22, and $10 billion over a decade, aimed at improving Indigenous health and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

$33.4 million is provided for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, and funding to prevent and treat complex and chronic health conditions.

The Government will invest in a Rural Health Strategy to deliver quality care. This will support having the right health care professionals in the regions through better teaching, training, recruitment and retention, including $95.4 million investment to create a number of schools and university programs.

The Budget’s $83.3 million Rural Health Strategy over five years will boost the proportion of specialist training done in rural areas from 40% next year to 45% in 2021. While light on detail, the Budget also included changes to incentive programs, bonded medical scholarships and additional GP training places.

Education, child care and training

The Budget proposed a number of initiatives for students in regional, rural and remote areas, and
early education. For example, the Budget includes $96 million over four years for around 700 extra student places for young people from regional areas.

There was also further commitment to aligning school funding with the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) recommended in the 2011 Gonski report into school funding. The budget has
set aside $247 million over four years from 2018-19 in a new anti-bullying focus.

The Budget has committed $96.1 million over four years for young people in regional, rural and remote communities to transition to further education, training and employment. Then there’s $14 million over four years for 185 Commonwealth Supported Places annually for students commencing a bachelor degree at university through a Regional Study Hub.

Another $53.9 million has been earmarked over four years for regional students’ access to youth allowance, plus $123.6 million over five years to regional universities for additional Commonwealth Supported Places from 2017-18.

Much of the Quality Schools reform package introduced last year centres on a commitment to align school funding with the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) recommended in the 2011 Gonski report into school funding. Within Budget 2018-9 the Government renewed its commitment to the Gonski report, which over the next 10 years, provides an additional $24.5 billion for the needs-based funding model.

To achieve this, the Government plans to progressively raise funding levels for government schools from 17% to 20% of the SRS and for private schools from 76.8% to 80% of the SRS by 2027. Given that the Opposition doesn’t not support the Gonski report, these reforms maybe a focal point of the next general election.

From 2 July 2018, a New Child Care Package means families with incomes of up to around $187,000 will not have an annual limit on the amount of Child Care Subsidy they receive. Families will need to complete an online Child Care Subsidy assessment on their Centrelink online through the MyGov website.

The Child Care Safety Net package includes $1.2 billion for disadvantaged children, and those in regional and remote communities.

The Government is planning to spend $36.2 million over four years for a new IT system to ensure compliance in the replacement VET Student Loans program. To help deal with the large numbers of people making complaints about vocational education lending, the VET Student Loans Ombudsman is to receive another $1 million.

There is no major change in the 2018-19 Budget to the decision announced mid-year to pause tuition subsidy growth, and a range of reforms to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) for two years. For domestic bachelor degree places, universities will receive the same total amount that they received for 2017 for each of 2018 and 2019.

This funding freeze means that universities won’t receive the value of inflation indexation to per student Commonwealth contributions, or Commonwealth contributions for any additional students they enrol above 2017 levels. But they will still receive indexed student contributions for all students they enrol.

The number of Commonwealth-funded diploma, associate degree, and postgraduate coursework places has also been reduced. Soon after these policies were announced, partial exceptions began with the University of Tasmania, the University of the Sunshine Coast and Southern Cross University all receiving additional places. These have been confirmed within the Budget at a cost of $124 million over five years.

Funding on Commonwealth contributions through the Commonwealth Grant Scheme will be around $7 billion for 2018-2019, and from 2020 the Government plans to resume funding increases based on population growth for universities that meet yet-to-be determined performance criteria.

While the relevant bill is still before the Senate, proposed changes to HELP are the  income thresholds determining whether, or how much, a HELP debtor needs to repay each year. If it passes, the bill would lower the initial repayment threshold from $52,000 a year to $45,000 a year.

The Budget confirms that the cap would be $100,000 of HELP debt at any one time, which means those who have paid off some debt could borrow again. The government also plans to charge higher education providers $10 million a year to recover costs associated with HELP.

  • $440 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on universal access to early childhood education for a further year.
  • $154 million to promote active and healthy living. This includes $83 million to improve existing community sport facilities and expand the Sporting Schools and Local Sporting Champions programs.
  • $11.8 million over three years to expand the Early Learning Languages Australia program to more preschools and trial the program in 2019 and 2020 from the first year of school through to year two in primary schools.
  • $6 million over two years (from 2017-18) to continue and update the communications campaign to increase public awareness of changes to the Quality Schools package (aka public relations to sell the government’s reform package).
  • $1.3 million per year until 2020-21 to continued funding the MoneySmart Teaching program, designed to improve financial literacy education in schools.
  • $134.3 million over four years to the Northern Territory as part of the children and schooling component of the National Partnership Agreement on Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment.

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