Australians talk: What do they really think of the Federal Budget 2020?

The government has handed down its 2020 Federal Budget, geared towards pulling the country out of an economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. We asked a handful of Australians what they thought of it, including a nurse, university student, small business owner and retiree. Here’s what they had to say.
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What do you think of the Federal Budget 2020? Image source: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock.

This week’s Federal Budget announcement may have been the one of the most significant national economic updates in many Australians’ lifetimes, as they waited to hear what measures would be introduced to help pull the country out of the COVID-19 recession.

Core parts of the plan included a $26 billion scheme to allow many businesses to instantly write off the full value of their asset purchases for tax purposes, and a $4 billion wage subsidy scheme to pay employers $100-$200 per week for hiring unemployed young people.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also outlined a set of superannuation reforms, health industry changes and a new round of assistance to help home buyers get into their first home sooner, among many other updates.

Now the Treasurer has had his chance to announce the Budget, here’s what some everyday Australians think.

Opinions from everyday Aussies on Federal Budget 2020

University funding might not cut it

Erynn McAuley - opinion Federal Budget 2020“To me, the budget appears to help middle and upper-income earners and as I am a low-income earner, I believe that it won’t benefit me too much, except for a small rebate at tax time.

The $1 billion going into research funding does not appear to cover the amount that some experts have predicted universities will lose, and as I will need research funding to finish my PhD, I am uncertain on how I will finish my degree.

Although it doesn’t affect me personally, I can’t help but notice that anyone over the age of 35 who has lost their job will be disadvantaged with the new employment scheme. I believe the repercussions of not helping this age group – the ones more likely to have children, mortgages and higher expenses than those who are younger – will be disastrous.

Overall, it appears that the government is spending a lot of money with no guarantee that it is going to help the economy, and it seems like Australia will be worse-off in the long run.

So far COVID-19 hasn’t affected my life too much, but at the beginning of the year it was harder for me to find work. I was unable to pick up additional marking contracts at the university and was told by hospitals that they were laying off casual staff and not currently hiring.” Erynn McAuley, university student and dietitian.

Hospitality worker hopeful the Budget will renew confidence

Fergus Parker - opinion Federal Budget 2020“The biggest impact for us is going to be the immediate tax cuts, which will benefit our staff of 12 employees. More money in the pay packets of mostly casual, low-income earners is going to be really helpful.

I am curious to see how the announced JobMaker hiring credit will work from a practical standpoint. It seems like a boon for small hospitality venues like ours, but we will see what comes out in the wash.

We are hoping that this budget is going to increase people’s confidence that we are going to survive this pandemic. Anxiety (for staff, owners and customers) absolutely destroys our business.” Fergus Parker, owner of Alcove Cafe and Deli in Brisbane.

Pensioner payments to help with grandkids’ Christmas presents

Helen Woodriff - opinion Federal Budget 2020“I did hear this morning that the government will be giving us pensioners $250 in December and $250 in March. I am only a part-pensioner as I have rental properties, but it doesn’t look like the government is helping with rentals.

I had hoped we might do a little bit better out of the Budget. We got $750 last time, which was very helpful for me. A little bit more this time would have been nice, but I’m not complaining.

What will I do with the money? Well, I need it for Christmas, because I usually use my credit card for that. I’ll be spending it, but on someone else, no doubt. Presents for the grandkids. I’ll be able to put on Christmas dinner without wondering if we will have enough.

I understand this Budget – it’s for the kids, to get them working again, and get the whole country working again. I haven’t really been impacted by COVID-19 too badly, seeing as I am retired. But I do feel sorry for anyone who has been affected by it.” Helen Woodriff, retired school teacher.

Tax cuts mightn’t boost spending where the economy needs it

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“The income tax cuts are not really anything to jump up and down about. They are about $70 a week for high income earners, and less for everyone else. Some people say it would have been better to increase the tax-free threshold to $25,000 or $30,000 so the lower-income people could have more money, because they are the ones who will spend more. For a person earning $120,000, for example, getting $70 a week back and $3,500 a year is not going to have much of an impact on their income, so they’re likely to put it on their shares or investment homes. They’re probably not going to go out and buy new furniture or a new car or things that would really help move the economy.

It was a good move to support the economy with JobSeeker and JobKeeper but unfortunately, I think the leaders of the country should have done a better job in relation to how the JobKeeper was spread to the people. I’ve heard so many stories about the JobKeeper allowance with people who work part-time that didn’t go back to work and they still got JobKeeper and other people were pushed to work five days a week for the same amount of money. It has put a lot of money into the economy though, which has helped a lot of people.

The government’s plan is very optimistic. They are relying on all these factors such as all the nations coming out of recession and opening their borders. Hopefully everything goes well and we can move on.

Personally it won’t impact me much in terms of work, because the Budget construction initiatives are aimed more at bigger projects. They are looking to employ bigger companies and do mega projects.” Angel Morrison, project manager in the civil engineering industry.

COVID-19 support helped some businesses stay alive, and thrive

Shane Phillips - opinion Federal Budget 2020“The biggest thing for me from this budget so far has been the tax cuts, bringing them forward and easing the taxes being paid by higher-earning workers.

The coronavirus supplements being extended recently has helped too, primarily just giving a clearer and less stressful picture of where I’m sitting financially as a small business owner. It’s given me the opportunity to expand my business, which I don’t think I would have been able to do pre-COVID 19.

Going from working 10 to 14 hour days, five or six days a week in a big gym somewhat limited my time and income capacity, especially when they closed for almost six months. Whereas now, having my own gym, I have the ability to do what I wanted five years from now but do it NOW, and I’m not really limited in what I can earn financially.

There’s also the security of not closing if, worst-case scenario, a second wave hits and big gyms have to close again, whereas at the moment in my state, studios and small gyms can stay open as long as they adhere to the guidelines.” Shane Phillips, personal trainer.

Important for nurses to have support to treat COVID-19 patients

Laura Begg - opinion Federal Budget 2020“As a mother of one and part-time nurse with a mortgage, the tax cuts are what stand out to me the most from this budget. Any savings we can make will go a long way to help us stretch our money a little further during this period.

As a nurse, I was happy to see that the government is investing money into our hospitals, including making sure we have enough PPE (personal protective equipment) and access to medicines to deal with COVID-19. While Queensland hospitals were lucky not to be inundated with coronavirus patients during the lockdown, there is the chance of a second wave occurring and it’s important we are ready to deal with that if it happens. Nurses are on the frontline, so it’s a comfort to know that we would hopefully have some support in place to keep us safe while treating patients.” Laura Begg, nurse and mother of one.

Music industry businesses “left hung out to dry”

Stephen Green - opinion Federal Budget 2020“Our business has a very strong reliance on international concert tours and festivals in the live music industry which has been hit very hard by COVID-19. We have seen a downturn of around 50% since March, with no real roadmap to recovery for our sector until a vaccine is available.

The budget includes a large amount of assistance for business, but is ignoring the fundamental issue for businesses like ours and those even worse-off in our sector, which is that we can’t get back to work when there is none. While it might be great for some businesses to be able to offset new hires or to immediately write off capital investments, neither of these things is helpful if there is no work to do. If you’re a ticket seller, a booking agent, a concert venue or in our case a publicist, there are parts of our businesses that are simply in forced hibernation because they cannot operate without events.

Businesses in hibernation do not need more staff or more investment, they just need assistance to get to the other side of the pandemic. JobKeeper has been the only thing keeping businesses like ours continuing to operate and confirmation that this assistance will end in March with or without any resolution to COVID-19 is terrifying. It feels like the government has left us hung out to dry.

The fact is that when a vaccine is found, Australians will want to get back to their normal lives and will want live entertainment, but with this budget, those who are behind the scenes delivering that entertainment will be struck by the reality that by that time comes about, they might not be here to make that happen.

I hope that our business will find a way through, but what we and others in our industry will take from the 2020 budget is that it was the night that the government told us we’re on our own.” Stephen Green, music marketing professional, SGC Music Group.

Creating more jobs is a good move – the economy needs it

Elisa and Cameron Denyer - opinion Federal Budget 2020“As far as we understand, not a whole lot in the budget will affect our family. I understand the bringing forward of a lot of infrastructure measures to allow for more jobs to be created will of course help the economy, which I believe is a good thing considering what a diabolical state it is currently in and the fact it is looking to only get worse before it gets better.

As far as COVID-19 and what it has meant for us, to be honest not a whole lot has changed for the worse. If anything, I have become busier in my business which is bringing in more income, which is great. I have been able to successfully abide by social distancing and all other COVID-19 regulations whilst conducting a successful small business from home.

The free child care massively helped out financially as well. And when I was at my teaching job, JobKeeper was paying me more than my usual weekly wage, so that too topped us up nicely.” Elisa Denyer, hairdresser and former hairdressing teacher.

This article was reviewed by our Sub Editor Tom Letts before it was published as part of our fact-checking process.

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