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Budget 2024 - Dr Sophie's view

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The Albanese Government delivered the 2024-25 Budget last night with a major investment in Australia’s transformation to a net zero economy as its centrepiece. The Future Made in Australia program is a big picture policy that will deploy $22.7 billion in direct investment, production tax incentives and loans to drive development of future industries like green hydrogen, critical minerals and renewables.

With the global energy transition already well underway, we either step into the race now to make the most of our abundant assets, or be left behind. Being a former athlete I believe in stepping into the race. It's time for Australia to move away from the 'dig it and ship it' mentality and future-proof our economy and prosperity by building our value-adding and manufacturing capacity here.

I support the Future Made in Australia program as an important investment in the diversification of our economy, future jobs and future prosperity.

The other big theme was cost of living, with the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers highlighting the Stage 3 tax cuts that begin on 1 July 2024 and handing every household $300 in energy bill credits. It’s a budget that’s designed to give everyone a lift. There was a further 10% increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance but no lift in JobSeeker or Youth Allowance.

Other spending in the Budget was modest. I am disappointed that the government has overlooked environmental repair and failed to address the critical GP shortage. There’s a lot of urgent challenges like addressing domestic violence that missed an opportunity for real change.

The Treasurer claims the Budget will not drive inflation which he’s now forecasting could come within the Reserve Bank’s 2-3% band by the end of the year. We will see. It might take longer for interest rates to fall, but if inflation shows signs of being tamed, we can expect the government to claim success.

Budget Highlights

  • $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia program to grow new industries like green hydrogen and critical minerals.
  • Modest cost of living relief, including extra Commonwealth Rent Assistance and $300 in energy relief for all households.
  • Relief for costs of prescriptions and $361 million for a free digital mental health program.
  • $1 billion to the states and territories to help speed new housing development.

Want to know more? Join us for a post Budget Zoom briefing with Dr Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute, on 21 May at 7pm. Register Here

If you have any questions about the Budget, email [email protected].

Cost of Living


  • Tax cuts for 13.6 million Australians commencing 1 July 2024.
  • $300 in energy bill relief for all Australian households at a cost of $3.5 billion.
  • 10% increase in rental assistance for low-income earners, on top of last year’s 15% increase.
  • Cheaper medicines. Pensioners and health care concession card-holders will pay no more than $7.70 per script for the next five years. Everyone else will pay no more than $31.60 per script (frozen for one year).
  • Changes to HECS indexation will wipe out $3 billion in student debt for 3 million students and prevent growth in future debt outpacing wages.
  • Inquiry into the supermarket sector and more powers for the competition watchdog.


  • No increase in JobSeeker or Youth Allowance.
  • No measures to mitigate insurance premiums.
  • No additional funding to help households transition to solar or batteries.

The government has chosen to deliver cost of living relief to as many people as possible, rather than more targeted assistance. Everyone will receive a $300 credit on their energy bills. The Stage 3 tax cuts will also deliver a tax cut to everyone, instead of only high-income earners. I supported that change as it will help those doing it tough. The freeze on the cost of PBS prescription medication will be welcomed by families and older people. Families will pay no more than $31.60 per PBS script (for a year) and pensioners and concession card-holders will pay no more than $7.70 per PBS script (for five years).

The government says that targeting cost of living relief to these areas will not fuel inflation. I hope they are right. More rent assistance will be welcomed by vulnerable households struggling to pay the rent. But this does not help those who cannot afford to rent, so I am sorry the government has not chosen to lift the JobSeeker payment, which is now 25% below the poverty line.



  • 10% increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance for low-income earners, which on top of last year’s increase means up to $70 a fortnight extra for families with kids.
  • A further $1 billion to states and territories to deliver infrastructure for new housing.
  • $88.8 million for 20,000 fee-free TAFE places to train more tradies.
  • $423 million extra toward the National Agreement on Social Housing and Homelessness, a five year $9.3 billion program.
  • $1.9 billion in concessional finance to community housing providers.
  • Some social housing funds will be re-prioritised for women fleeing domestic violence.


  • No relief for renters who are not eligible for Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
  • The housing problem is so big we probably need to spend even more.

Since 2022 the government has made significant commitments to housing investment and says its total homes for Australia plan now tallies $32 billion. However its goal of achieving 1.2 million new homes by July 2029 is hamstrung by the lack of construction workers. So the announcement of 20,000 fee-free TAFE places to train more tradies is a good move, but we won't see the results any time soon. There is nothing for ordinary renters doing it tough.

Small Business


  • $20,000 instant asset write-off extended for another 12 months.
  • $325 in energy bill relief to 1 million businesses.
  • $10.8 million in financial and mental well-being support.
  • Measures to train more apprentices and tradies.


  • Nothing to address insurance costs.

Future Made in Australia


  • $22.7 billion toward a Future Made in Australia program, through a combination of funds to drive investment in clean energy and advanced manufacturing. It includes:
  • $8 billion over 10 years to support the production of renewable hydrogen, including production tax incentives.
  • $7.1 billion over 11 years to support the processing and refinement of critical minerals, including production tax incentives.
  • $1.7 billion over 10 years for a Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund to promote Net Zero Innovation (including green metals and low carbon fuel).
  • An additional $1.5 billion to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to supercharge investment in renewable energy and related technology.
  • $1.4 billion to support the manufacturing of clean energy technology including $835.6 million for the Solar Sunshot program to increase the number of Australian-made solar panels and $549 million for battery manufacturing.


  • Simultaneously, the government has announced a Future Gas Strategy that will see major new gas projects approved with lifespans well beyond 2050.
  • No increase to our Petroleum Resources Rent Tax.

I commend the government for taking the bold steps toward building our capabilities in future industries such as green hydrogen, critical minerals and renewable power. It gives us a fighting chance in the global competition to lure investment and capital to these transformative industries. But I am deeply disappointed that, at the same time, the government is preparing to greenlight new gas developments that will be producing gas well beyond 2050. I will be watching closely to make sure Future Made in Australia investments are made transparently and competitively. And we’ve again passed up the opportunity to increase the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax.

Climate Change and Renewable Energy


  • $27.7 million to integrate consumer energy resources like batteries and solar into the grid.
  • 10 year extension of funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
  • Funding for implementation of the New Vehicle Efficiency standard to drive rollout of EVs.


  • No additional funds to encourage households to install batteries or solar panels.

I would have liked to see more funds towards electrification and energy efficiency of households, particularly for low income households so they too can benefit from lower energy bills. The government however, has focussed on the big picture, clean energy and green industry sector investments.



  • $40.9 million extra over two years to implement the Nature Positive Plan. But $35.7 million of this is for the implementation of the Nature Repair Market, a system of tradable credits for conservation.


  • No funding to address the extinction crisis.
  • No funding for conservation.
  • No additional funding to preserve the Great Barrier Reef.
  • No funding to support a transition away from native forest logging.

This budget is deeply disappointing when it comes to addressing our environmental crisis caused by climate change. There was money in the last budget to establish Environmental Protection Australia but the delays in overhauling environmental laws are very worrying. The lack of funds in this budget for the reforms confirms the government has stalled in protecting our most precious natural assets.

Health and Mental Health


  • $361 million to establish a national digital mental health service for milder conditions, that is free and doesn’t require a referral.
  • $227 million for 29 new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.
  • $610.4 million over five years to support the states to achieve early discharge from hospital of older Australians and relieve bed block.


  • $14 billion to be cut from the NDIS over four years. The government has promised that new community supports will be delivered by the states but there is no detail on this.
  • No strategy to address the shortage of GPs.
  • A lack of investment in the prevention of disease with the National Obesity Strategy and National Preventative Health Strategy remaining unfunded.
  • No increase in the Medicare rebate.

The government has failed to use this budget to address the severe shortage of GPs across the country, the primary providers to Australian families. We need to encourage young doctors to choose general practice as a career. We are facing a 25% shortfall in numbers in the next few years. Also the government has failed to address the growing gap between the Medicare rebate and what patients pay. I do however welcome the spending on a digital mental health service. The money for preventative health mainly extends programs that were due to expire. There is no money for the National Obesity Strategy - again.

Young People


  • $3 billion in HECS student debt will be wiped. A student with an average HECS debt of about $26,000, will have their HECS debt cut by about $1,200.
  • $319.50 a week in a Commonwealth Prac Payment to support students studying teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work undertaking mandatory workplace placements.
  • $350 million for fee-free 'uni-ready' courses.


  • No increases in Youth Allowance.
  • Students studying veterinary science, radiology, pharmacy and other courses miss out on the Commonwealth Prac Payment.

Older Australians


  • $531 million for another 24,000 home care packages, allowing more people to remain at home.
  • Freeze on cost of PBS medicines for pensioners for five years at $7.70 a script.
  • $2.2 billion over five years to continue to implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care, including upgrading digital systems to administer aged care payments.
  • $190 million over three years to extend the Transition Care Program for older people after a hospital stay.
    Commitment to fund higher wages for aged care workers.


  • The response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care is very slow.
  • Future funding of the sector in response to the Aged Care Task Force report is still to be announced.

Our aged care system is facing major financial strains and aged care workers have been undervalued and underpaid for too long. The extra aged care packages are welcome, but the government’s response to the funding issues faced by the residential care sector is still to come.



  • $5,000 in financial support for women to escape their partner under the Leaving Violence Program. $925.2 million over five years starting mid-2025.
  • From 1 July 2025 the government will pay superannuation on the government-funded Paid Parental Leave.
  • $1 billion of social housing funds will be re-prioritised for women fleeing domestic violence.
  • $56.1 million to improve access to sexual and reproductive health care.
  • $55.6 million to support women’s careers in clean energy.
  • Revised Stage 3 tax cuts will benefit 90% of women workers.


  • No funds beyond what we already knew for domestic violence services.
  • Missed the transformative opportunity to fund the national roll out of the successful Staying Home Leaving Violence program.



  • $1 billion over five years for the establishment of the Administrative Review Tribunal, which deals with appeals from government decisions.


  • No funding to implement my ‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Bill - $3 million per year is all that is needed to establish an independent appointments process.
  • No funding for the Australian Institute for Applied Ethics proposed by the Ethics Centre in partnership with the UNSW and Sydney University.

Indigenous Australians


  • $2.4 billion over five years including $839.4 million investment in a program to ease overcrowding in remote housing in the NT.
  • $777.4 million over five years to establish the Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program, which will create 3,000 jobs.
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner for Children and Young People.


  • Nothing to support future development of state-based Voice mechanisms or to support truth-telling or treaty processes.

Big Picture - Inflation and Economic Outlook

  • The government forecasts inflation to moderate to below 3% by the end of 2024.
  • $9.3 billion surplus for 2024-25.
  • Growth expected to be 2% in 2024-25.
  • Unemployment expected to increase slightly to 4.5%.

Other Hits

  • $216 million over four years to further support Australia’s arts, entertainment and cultural sector.
  • $259.7 million for the investment in the Australian Institute of Sport.

" This is a Budget that gives a bit to everyone. I'm pleased to see this Budget start to invest in building the foundations for our future and addressing inequality. But it is just a start." - Dr Sophie