Budget Speech 2023–24
I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Stronger foundations for a better future
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, the Yagara and Yugambeh Country around Logan, and all the First Nations of Australia – their Elders, customs and traditions.
And we recognise the opportunity we have this year to move forward together, listening to each other, in a spirit of unity and respect.
The Budget we present to the Australian people tonight:
- Provides cost‑of‑living relief that is responsible and affordable and prioritises those most in need.
- Delivers historic investments in Medicare and the care economy – making it easier and cheaper for Australians to see their doctor.
- Broadens opportunity by breaking down the barriers of disadvantage and exclusion.
- Lays the foundations for growth by embracing clean energy, and investing in value‑adding industries, people, skills, technology and small business.
- And strengthens the Budget – with a surplus forecast for this year, with less debt and smaller deficits compared with recent budgets.
These are the foundations on which our Government is building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
With greater security in a time of economic uncertainty.
More opportunities in more parts of our country.
And a renewed determination for Australia to make the most of the defining decade ahead.
In all our decisions, we seek to strike a considered, methodical balance.
Between spending restraint to keep the pressure off inflation, while doing what we can to help people struggling to make ends meet.
Making sure vital services like Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme are secure, reliable and sustainable.
And dealing with immediate, near‑term challenges – while investing in our long‑term national success –
Seeing our people through the hard times – and setting our country up for a better future.
The global economy is slowing due to persistent inflation, higher interest rates and financial sector strains.
Outside of the pandemic and the Global Financial Crisis, the next 2 years are expected to be the weakest for global growth in over 2 decades.
This will affect us here in Australia.
Our economic growth is expected to slow from 3 ¼ per cent in 2022–23 to 1 ½ per cent the year after, before recovering to 2 ¼ per cent in the next.
Despite this, our economy will continue to create jobs and unemployment is expected to remain low by historical standards – 4 ¼ per cent in 2023–24, 4 ½ the year after.
In this environment, inflation remains our primary economic challenge –
It drives rate rises; it erodes real wages –
Which is why this Budget is carefully calibrated to alleviate inflationary pressures, not add to them.
Our policies to ease the pressure on households will take ¾ of a percentage point off inflation in 2023–24 –
Which is expected to fall from 6 per cent this year to 3 ¼ per cent next year –
Returning to the RBA’s target band in 2024–25.
Still higher than we’d like for longer than we’d like – but tracking in the right direction.
So, while Australia may have a lot coming at us – we have a lot going for us too.
High prices for the things we sell overseas –
A strong, well‑regulated, secure banking system –
Low unemployment –
And welcome signs that after a decade of being kept deliberately low, wages are moving again.
Wages growth for 2023–24 is now forecast to be 4 per cent – up a ¼ of a percentage point from what was expected in October.
This combination of lower than expected inflation and higher wages, means that an earlier and stronger return to real wages growth is forecast for 2023–24.
Delivering cost‑of‑living relief
At the same time, we understand Australians are under the pump right now.
That’s why providing responsible, targeted relief is the number one priority in our Budget.
Our $14.6 billion cost‑of‑living plan will:
- Provide help with power bills.
- Bring down out‑of‑pocket health costs.
- Support vulnerable Australians.
- Create more affordable housing.
- And boost wages.
Power bill relief
Back in November, gas bills were set to go up by 20 per cent in 2023–24 – and electricity bills were set to rise by 36 per cent.
This was the high price Australians were slated to pay for the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and a decade of energy policy failure here at home.
Our Government refused to stand by and let this happen.
We took urgent and targeted action, to place a cap on coal and gas prices –
And tonight, we are delivering up to $3 billion in direct energy bill relief for eligible households and small businesses, co‑funded with the states.
More than 5 million households will have up to $500 deducted from their power bills in the next financial year.
Real relief, right off your power bill, right when you need it.
Because of our policies, electricity price increases are expected to be around 25 percentage points less than what was projected – and 16 percentage points less for gas.
A big part of making sure that energy bills are more affordable into the future is improving the energy efficiency of Australian homes – and not just new builds.
Through this Budget, we are investing $1 billion to help provide low‑cost loans for double‑glazing, solar panels and other improvements that will make homes easier – and cheaper – to keep cool in summer and warm in winter.
A common‑sense program that will help family budgets – and reduce emissions.
Lower out‑of‑pocket health costs
Our first Budget capped the price of medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for around 3.6 million Australians, so that most now pay no more than $30 for the medicines they need.
In our second Budget, we are investing $2.2 billion to increase access to life changing medicines through the PBS.
And from September this year, patients will be able to get more of the medicine they need for less money and less hassle.
Instead of having to go back to their pharmacist every month, many people with common, chronic illnesses will be able to get 2 months’ worth of treatment for over 300 different medicines.
This change will save people up to $180 a year.
For millions of Australians, the cost of medicines will be cut in half.
Supporting Australians doing it tough
Our Government is proud that in our first year in office, 339,000 new jobs have been created.
But even with unemployment at historic lows, we know there are still people struggling to find work and struggling to get by.
The pressures on the Budget are acute – but as a Labor Government we will always strive to help those who need it the most.
That’s why, tonight, we announce a $40 per fortnight increase for JobSeeker recipients – plus those on Youth Allowance, Austudy and other income support payments –
Helping to deliver a much‑needed $4.9 billion boost in support to around 1.1 million Australians looking for work, studying or doing apprenticeships.
And we are going further to help the single biggest group of Australians on JobSeeker – those aged 55 and over.
Until now, people aged 60 and over and on payments for a long time have received a higher rate, in recognition of the additional barriers they face finding work.
But the truth is, it gets more difficult earlier than that.
The majority of people aged 55 and over on JobSeeker are women, many with little to no savings or superannuation, and who are at risk of homelessness.
So tonight, we’re extending the extra support for those aged 60 and over to include Australians aged 55 and over –
More help for some of the most vulnerable in our community.
In the same spirit, we are expanding Parenting Payment (Single), so it will now be available to single parents until their youngest child turns 14, rather than 8.
This will provide 57,000 families with an extra $176.90 per fortnight.
Over 90 per cent of these parents are single mums; they deserve our respect and support for the incredible job they do.
More affordable housing
For too long, secure, affordable housing has been out of reach for too many Australians.
Tonight, to help ease the pressure on people feeling the pain of rising rents, we are increasing the maximum rates of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15 per cent.
This will provide up to $31 extra a fortnight for people renting in the private market and community housing – the largest increase in more than 30 years.
But we know an essential part of the solution to pressures in the housing market is more homes for Australians.
Our Housing Accord aims to build one million, new, well‑located homes over 5 years from 2024.
We’re going to help drive this with a new tax break for build‑to‑rent projects, cutting the managed investment trust withholding tax from 30 to 15 per cent –
And by increasing the liability cap of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation by $2 billion, to support more lending to community housing providers.
We want more Australians to know the security of a roof over their head – which is why we’re also working with the states and territories to improve planning, build more houses and deliver a better deal for renters.
For this same reason, implementation of the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund is critical – to build more of the social and affordable houses that our people need.
Action to keep wages moving
Our Government came to office promising to get wages moving again –
They’re now growing at their fastest rate since 2012.
And let’s be clear:
When it comes to the cost‑of‑living, fair wages for workers are not the problem – they’re part of the solution.
Meaningful and sustainable wages growth is a fundamental feature of an economy that rewards people for their hard work.
That’s why we’ve consistently advocated for low‑paid Australians – so they don’t go backwards.
The Prime Minister has said it many times – the heroes of the pandemic deserve more than our thanks; they deserve fair pay for their vital work.
I am proud our Budget provides $11.3 billion to fund a 15 per cent increase in award wages, for more than 250,000 aged care workers.
This pay rise will help retain, reward and recruit the hard‑working people who care for our loved ones as they grow old.
And the message from our Government to the aged care workers of Australia is simple: you deserve every cent.
One of the things that makes this the best country in the world is our shared belief that every Australian should be able to access affordable, reliable healthcare.
But right now, too many people are finding it more and more difficult to see a doctor.
The costs are too high –
The wait times are too long –
And the consultation is too short.
Families are being forced into a lose‑lose choice between getting the help they need or paying their bills.
This robs parents of peace of mind; it puts families under strain.
It means more problems go undiagnosed or untreated.
And it means our workforce is not as healthy or productive as it could be – and should be.
We want to change that:
With new funding to build 8 more of our Urgent Care Clinics, so people in regional communities and growing suburbs can see a GP.
A further $445 million to enable doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to co‑operate for better care.
Changes that will make it easier for Australians to get essential services at their pharmacy – like vaccinations.
And – tonight – I am proud to announce, as a centrepiece of this Budget:
Our Labor Government is delivering the largest increase to the bulk billing incentive, ever.
A $3.5 billion boost that will help GPs provide free consultations to around 11.6 million eligible Australians –
Including children, pensioners and other concession card holders.
All of this will help take pressure off our public hospitals and emergency departments, still feeling the strain of a once‑in‑a‑century pandemic.
And it will ensure that for millions of people, the quality of your healthcare is guaranteed not by your credit card – but by your Medicare card.
Laying the foundations for growth
Investing in Medicare, helping with the costs of energy and housing, and supporting people most in need, are all essential measures to assist Australians under pressure.
But we know the best long‑term guarantee of rising living standards, stronger wages and a better quality of life is a growing and productive economy.
That’s why our Budget is underpinned by a plan to modernise our economy and maximise our strengths by:
- Making Australia a renewable energy superpower, with strong strategic industries in global supply chains.
- Investing in our people and their skills.
- And supporting small businesses to innovate and grow.
Making Australia a renewable energy superpower
Australia’s biggest opportunity for growth and prosperity is the global shift to clean energy.
By acting now, our resources, our researchers and our regions can help power the world.
That’s why – in tonight’s Budget – we are investing $2 billion in a new Hydrogen Headstart program, so Australia can be a world leader in producing and exporting hydrogen power –
While reducing our emissions in heavy industry here at home.
Hydrogen power means Wollongong, Gladstone and Whyalla, can make and export everything from renewable energy to green steel.
Seizing these kinds of industrial and economic opportunities will be the biggest driver and determinant of our future prosperity.
The Government is making the biggest ever investment in Australia’s energy transformation.
This Budget allocates $4 billion to realising our future as a renewable energy superpower –
Bringing the Government’s total investment to more than $40 billion.
This includes part of our $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, to support the development of green industries, manufacturing and more.
And a new Capacity Investment Scheme that will unlock over $10 billion of investment in firmed‑up renewable energy projects up and down our east coast.
These strategic investments will work in partnership: abundant, affordable renewable energy powering new jobs and new industry in our regions and suburbs.
While our Safeguard Mechanism will encourage business to invest in the path to net zero.
Investing in strategic industries
To realise this vision, we’re making targeted investments in green industries, as well as in technology and other value‑adding areas, including:
- A new Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre to help Australian businesses manufacture renewable technologies.
- Funding to support the growth of quantum and AI.
- Plus $286 million of investment in our creative sector.
This will create new opportunities across our economy –
And so will our historic and vital investment in defence and national security.
The AUKUS agreement will directly support 20,000 high‑skill, high‑wage jobs over the next 30 years in advanced manufacturing –
And broaden and deepen our industrial base.
Investing in people and their skills
To make sure all of these jobs and opportunities extend to every part of our country, we’re investing $3.7 billion for a revamped 5‑year national skills agreement with the states and territories –
And we’re creating 300,000 fee‑free TAFE places to train Australians in critical and emerging sectors.
We’re expanding access to foundational skills so that all Australians aged over 15 can develop the language, numeracy, and digital skills that they need.
And we’re encouraging more women into apprenticeships through a new Australian Skills Guarantee.
Supporting small business
In this Budget we back Australian small business with:
- A $20,000 instant asset write‑off.
- A new Small Business Energy Incentive to support investments in power saving assets.
- And new help for small businesses to adopt and adapt to digital technology.
Women’s economic equality
We’re the first government in Australia’s history with a majority of women in our ranks.
And as the Finance Minister and Minister for Women often says: we know equality for women is not an add‑on, not a nice‑to‑have –
It’s crucial for our prosperity.
- We’ve taken action to close the gender pay gap.
- Introduced 10 days of paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave.
- Made gender equity an objective of the Fair Work Act – and put a new focus on workers in the care economy.
And on 1 July, Australians will begin to benefit from cheaper early childhood education and enhanced Paid Parental Leave.
Tonight, we build on this work, by dedicating almost $590 million to the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children –
Investing $72.4 million to retain and recruit more early childhood educators –
And by abolishing the punitive ParentsNext program, while getting on with designing a voluntary system that genuinely supports mothers preparing for work.
Addressing disadvantage in communities
Alongside financial support for Australians in need, we’re also investing in new programs to tackle entrenched disadvantage.
Putting our trust in the knowledge and passion of locals to break the chains of intergenerational poverty.
I see it in my own community: library programs unlocking the world of learning, sporting clubs building pride, community groups mentoring young people into apprenticeships.
Breakthroughs and progress, driven by locals and leaders.
Tonight, we back their hard work with a $200 million plan, which includes:
- Funding place‑based partnerships.
- Encouraging evidence‑based policy, directed at a local level.
- Investment in projects that are delivering measurable success.
- A new partnership that will help government and philanthropy to co‑ordinate their efforts –
Plus, more funding for community organisations so that they can pay their bills, pay their workers – and keep delivering for people in need.
This will sit alongside $1.9 billion for First Nations’ health, housing, education, employment and other essential services –
And $250 million for a new Central Australia package to improve safety and provide more opportunities for young people in their communities.
Strengthening the Budget
From energy bill relief to national defence, manufacturing to Medicare, investments in this Budget aim to make Australia more resilient and more secure in uncertain times.
Fundamental to this is our responsible economic management and our efforts to put the Budget on a stronger foundation.
This Budget, we’ve returned 82 per cent of the extra revenue windfall that’s largely come from lower unemployment, stronger jobs and wages growth, and higher prices for key exports.
We’ve now returned 87 per cent over this Budget and the last.
We’ve also found $17.8 billion in savings and redirected spending – $40 billion over both budgets.
And limited annual real spending growth to just 0.6 per cent over 5 years.
Because our first 2 budgets made such a firm commitment to responsibility and restraint –
We are now forecasting a small surplus in 2022–23 – which would be the first in 15 years.
We expect that to be followed by a deficit of $13.9 billion in 2023–24 –
And, lower deficits across the forward years compared to recent Budgets –
Leading to a $125.9 billion improvement over 5 years –
And a much lower public debt burden.
Gross debt to GDP is now expected to peak lower and earlier at 36.5 per cent of GDP in 2025–26, where it will be $154 billion less than was expected in March 2022.
And because we are returning most of the welcome improvement in revenue to the budget, debt will be almost $300 billion lower by the end of the medium term, saving $83 billion in interest costs over the next 12 years.
Sustainably funding government services
We’re expecting one of the biggest turnarounds on record –
While dealing with a whole host of programs and services that were left without ongoing funding.
In October, this meant an additional $4.1 billion in spending.
In May, we’ve had to find another $7.5 billion, including:
- $1.8 billion for legacy health funding, and to make sure that Australians retain access to their My Health Record.
- And more than $800 million to sustainably fund our biosecurity system to keep our farmers and producers secure.
Our Government is building a strong, sustainable care economy that works for carers and the people they care for –
Which is why we’re extending disability support programs and investing in additional home care packages.
We’re upholding the security of our nation, and the stability of our region –
Which is why we’re implementing the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review and allocating $1.9 billion to strengthening our relationships in the Pacific.
And we’re supporting those who have served and sacrificed –
Which is why we’re spending $64.1 million to continue eliminating the claims backlog, so that Veterans get faster access to the support they need and deserve.
Beyond the immediate pressures on our Budget, there are genuine structural challenges facing us into the future – defence, health, aged care, the NDIS and interest payments on debt.
Tonight, we’re putting in place some modest, but meaningful revenue measures like:
- Tightening superannuation tax concessions for those with balances exceeding $3 million.
- A 15 per cent global and domestic minimum tax for large multinational companies.
- Changes to the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax, so that Australians receive a fairer return on the sale of our natural resources, sooner.
- Raising the tax on tobacco by 5 per cent for 3 years.
- And extending tax compliance programs.
But the inescapable truth is that the Federal Government cannot put all the services that Australians expect and deserve on a more sustainable footing by ourselves.
That’s why the Prime Minister has brought together the states and territories to agree on a new, co‑operative approach –
So, we can secure the future of essential services and programs that both levels of government support –
And so we can make sure that the NDIS continues to provide life‑changing outcomes for future generations of Australians with disability.
Under Labor, the NDIS is here to stay.
We are determined to make sure every dollar counts and every dollar goes to improving the lives of the participants the scheme was established for.
Our changes are designed to put the interests of participants first, as we co‑operate to moderate growth in costs.
It took a Labor Government to create the NDIS – and this Labor Government will secure its future.
122 years ago today, the Federal Parliament first met.
Called to serve a new nation on an ancient continent, created by a vote of the people.
Today Australia is bigger, fairer, more diverse, more open to the world and more engaged with our region than anyone alive at Federation could possibly have imagined.
And yet what brought this country together was a belief that the future could belong to Australia and that we would be stronger, safer, and more prosperous if we worked to seize its opportunities and share its rewards.
A Commonwealth of common purpose.
That optimism and resilience has sustained us – and carried us – through downturns and disaster, through recession and pandemic.
And the belief in opportunity fairly shared has underpinned our greatest achievements – from Medicare to superannuation.
The same spirit underpins constitutional recognition through a Voice, it drives our Government, and it shapes this Budget.
A determination to tackle the big challenges – and seize the big chances.
A deep faith in our people, their skills, their smarts, their innovation and aspiration.
A plan for security, for prosperity, for growth.
An economic strategy to help with cost‑of‑living pressures now –
And to maximise and extend the opportunities of the future to more of our people in more parts of our country.
In the defining, decisive decade ahead.
For all these reasons, I commend this Bill – and this Budget – to the House.