Skip navigation

Budget 2024

I wanted to share some brief comments on yesterday's Budget.

Given global economic headwinds and stubborn inflation, I don't envy the challenge that the Treasurer, Dr Jim Chalmers, had with this Budget. However, I think he missed three significant opportunities. 

The first is for better targeted cost-of-living relief to support the most vulnerable in our community.

The $300 energy rebate will be popular, but I don't think it's good policy. The government should have found a better way to target cost-of-living relief to those in need. 

The second missed opportunity was the government's failure to more adequately address the housing crisis.

Housing is a human right, but the effects of decades of policy failure from both major parties mean that the next generations are losing hope of ever owning a home, unless they can rely on the bank of Mum and Dad. There're no easy fixes, but there is a lot more that could have been done in this Budget. 

The third missed opportunity was the failure to take the immediate and effective climate action that scientists globally are saying that we must make. 

The Budget reads as though the government is listening more to fossil fuel lobbyists than climate scientists. We could have taken the opportunity to finally tax multinational gas corporations properly, but we didn't. We could have turbocharged the building of solar and wind farms, but we're still behind on rolling out large-scale renewables, and the government is struggling to give industry and the regions the assurances they need to commit to these projects. 

These three crises - cost-of-living, housing, and climate - warranted a Budget with vision.

We got caution, not vision, last night. I think that is a shame. 

In this special newsletter, I summarise those parts of yesterday’s Budget of most interest to our community, and look at what we could be doing instead.

If you're interested in hearing more, next week I’m hosting my sixth Town Hall, in which I’ll provide a more detailed response to the Budget and report the results of my Kooyong Cost-Of-Living Survey.

We’re also holding Kooyong’s first ever ‘Bring Your Bill’ drop-in session, at which 10 fantastic community organisations will have stalls with staff available to help with your questions about utilities, finance, scams, and other issues.

Click here to RSVP to my Town Hall (from 6:00-7:30pm on Thursday, 23 May at Hawthorn Arts Centre), and to find out more about the drop-in session (just before the Town Hall, from 4:30pm also at the Hawthorn Arts Centre). 

Climate Change 

In this Budget, the government has invested in the key industries it sees playing a role in Australia’s net-zero future, such as critical minerals and hydrogen. While I’m pleased to see this investment, I remain concerned about the government’s plans to encourage the extraction of more gas to export overseas.

Australia is blessed with the best renewable energy resources in the world, as well as an incredibly large oil and gas sector that we do not tax properly.

Instead of encouraging multinational gas companies to plunder our national resources for overseas profits, we should try to diversify our energy production away from fossil fuels, towards large-scale renewables like solar and wind.

What's in the budget: 

  • A new $6.7 billion tax incentive for the production of renewable hydrogen, and a new $7 billion production tax incentive for the processing and refining of critical minerals
  • $1.7 billion to promote net zero innovation, including for green metals and low-carbon fuels
  • $1.5 billion to strengthen battery and solar panel supply chains through production incentives
  • $566 million over 10 years to Geoscience Australia to map our groundwater systems and resource endowments to increase industry investment by helping with discovery of “strategic materials” – I'm concerned this reflects the government doing free exploration for offshore gas sites and handing that information over to the fossil fuel industry.

What’s not in the Budget:

  • Fast-tracking of large-scale solar and wind projects to accelerate Australia’s transition to net zero
  • Taxing multinational fossil fuel companies properly by modifying the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax
  • Stopping approvals of new coal and gas projects
  • Major measures to help home owners and renters electrify their homes - there's $1 billion in funding sitting with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for this from last year's Budget which has still not been spent. 


There is some new funding in the Budget for housing, but it’s a drop in the bucket.

While there is no quick fix to the housing crisis, there are levers the government hasn’t yet pulled, such as more incentives for local councils to change planning laws, cutting red tape for new rentals, and increasing investment for affordable and social housing.

We must give the next generations confidence they will have secure and affordable housing, and that will require a much braver effort from our government.

What’s in the Budget:

  • $1.9 billion in concessional finance for social and affordable homes
  • An extra $423 million for social housing and homelessness
  • $89 million for 20,000 more TAFE places to increase capacity in the construction sector

What’s not in the Budget:

  • Doing more to incentivise local councils and state governments to change their planning laws so more liveable, medium-density homes can be approved more quickly
  • Cutting taxes and red tape for the build-to-rent sector, like in Europe, so more institutional investors put capital towards affordable rental properties
  • Investing far more in social and affordable housing for the most vulnerable in our society.



Most notably in this Budget is a welcome change to HECS debts: thanks to our record-breaking petition, signed by 285,000 people, the government has finally made HECS debts easier to pay off. I thank the government for listening.

It’s not enough: this Budget was a missed opportunity to provide targeted cost-of-living relief for those most in need by raising JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, the Disability Support Pension, and other support payments.

What’s in the Budget:

  • The waiving of $3 billion in HECS debt for 3 million Australians, which I am proud to see after our 285,000-person petition pushed the government into making the change
  • The fairer Stage 3 tax cuts for all working Australians that we advocated for when the government was still wavering on the issue. 
  • A $300 energy bill rebate for all Australian households, totalling $3.5 billion
  • A 10% increase in Commonwealth Rental Assistance payments
  • Extension of the $20,000 instant write off for small businesses until 30 June 2025

What’s not in the Budget:

  • Abolition of the Morrison-era Jobs Ready Graduates scheme (which would at least halve the cost of arts degrees), and a change in the timing of HECS indexation charges. 
  • An increase in JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Disability Support Pension and other support payments.


Medicare needs once in a generation reform: it’s underfunded, with bulk-billing rates falling and fewer medical graduates wanting to become GPs. There are significant medical workforce shortages, particularly in mental health care.

This Budget doesn’t undertake any visionary healthcare reform; it limits increases in some important living costs, like medicines, but there’s no large-scale measures to improve availability and affordability of general practice, specialist and mental health care.

What’s in the Budget:

  • 29 new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics
  • A 12-month freeze on the maximum cost of PBS prescriptions (it's a five-year freeze for pensioners and Seniors).
  • $3.4 billion for new medicine listings on the PBS

What’s not in the Budget:

  • Significant new mental health care initiatives - there's only $111 million extra a year for healthcare services that won't go far
  • Further funding for the Australian Centre for Disease Control, and for establishment of the National Heath, Sustainability and Climate Unit promised in 2022.


There are two notable inclusions in the Budget for our community: $3.3 billion for the North-East Link, and, excitingly, a $100 million fund for active transport.

I’ve been working with the community to urge all levels of government to start work on the Hawthorn to Box Hill bike path, which has been decades in the making. I’ll find out more information about this new fund urgently to see if our community can benefit.


Continue Reading

Read More