By Rachael Merritt
Photo by: ABC News- Marco Catalano
This week, the Coalition handed down its proposed Federal Budget for 2019. Think of the Budget as your weekly Uber Eats expenditure plan, but on steroids: it’s the government’s way of mapping out how and where money is spent across the country and where money can be saved. It’s a game of winners and losers as some Australians will benefit from personal and business tax cuts and new road infrastructure while high-income earners and big businesses usually end up paying more in tax.
If re-elected in the upcoming May election, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has forecasted Australia will be ‘back in the black’ with a $7.1 billion dollar surplus at the end of the 2019-2020 financial year. Just a few proposals the Coalition has made include support for lower and middle-income earners, more funding for health care, rural roads and rails and a crackdown on welfare overpayments.
But how do students and Australia’s youth benefit?
The good news is university funding is on the increase. Currently, the government is spending $17.7 billion on tertiary education but this will rise to $20 billion by 2024. If you are looking to study at a regional campus then you’re in luck, the Budget is spending $93.7 million over four years on scholarships (worth $15,000 a year) to encourage a greater number of university enrolments at remote campuses. International students can add an extra year to their visa if they live and study in regional areas.
The University of Melbourne will receive an underground physics lab, the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
SKILLS AND TRAINING
This year’s Budget is less focused on university funding as it is on investing in vocational education and training (VET). The Government has proposed $525 million for a skills package. Breaking down that figure, $200 million will help create 80,000 news apprenticeships in trades with skill shortages such as carpentry, plumbing, hairdressing, stonemasonry, plastering, baking and pastry cooking and wall and floor tiling. Employers who take on apprentices will receive a $4,000 incentive payment and apprentices themselves can pick up $2,000. VET training hubs will be set up in areas with high youth unemployment and 400 new training scholarships will be created.
Youth mental health and suicide prevention scored $461 million in funding and an additional $111 million for the creation of 30 new Headspace services for young people by 2021. All up $737 million is being invested in mental health, aiming to foster Indigenous suicide prevention programs, reduce the waiting list for Headspace, trial eight adult mental health centres and create four specialist facilities to treat eating disorders.
Funds have also been directed towards the sexual assault and domestic violence helpline 1800RESPECT and $82.2 million will go towards domestic violence services for women and children.
CLIMATE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The Coalition claims they are on track to meet Australia’s 2030 target of reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels. $3.5 billion is going towards a Climate Solutions Package which will be delivered over 15 years, offering incentive for industrial polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There’s money to protect Australia’s threatened species, restore wetlands, coasts and waterways and take action on waste reduction and recycling. However, the Great Barrier Reef was not specifically mentioned, despite scoring nearly half a billion dollars in funding last year.
$31 million will be spent boosting live music across the country: expanding the capacity of live music venues, supporting touring musicians and emerging female and Indigenous musicians and artists.