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Infrastructure and aged care flagged as priority areas in Tuesday's Budget

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg poses for photographs outside the Treasury building in Canberra, Monday, May 10, 2021. Source: AAP

The federal government has flagged infrastructure and aged care as priority areas for spending ahead of the official budget release on Tuesday. But the Opposition is worried that the government's spending package is just a quick fix without substance

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is warning Australians that the national economy remains uncertain ahead of the federal budget release.

The government will use its budget to provide billions of dollars on roads upgrades and for other big building projects.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has told ABC that infrastructure spending will also support jobs.

"Whether it is the regional areas with the building better regions funds, such a good program to build that vital community infrastructure right across the nation, right across our regions. It is a good budget, it is securing Australia's recovery."


 

Highlights

  • Meantime Labor is accusing the government of delivering a budget that is geared towards the federal election.
  • Mr McCormack expects the budget will help to secure Australia's future but he admits a strong workforce needs to be in place.
  • The federal budget includes more than 10 billion dollars for the aged care sector 

But Labor's Infrastructure spokesperson Catherine King is warning Queensland has been short-changed, with its government pleading for a fair-share of funds.

The Queensland Treasurer is concerned his state is set to receive less money that states like Victoria and Ms King is asking the government to step up.

"We see the Queensland roads Minister today tweeting that he in fact believes that Queensland has been dudded in this package so again you'd say to the government, if you've got an infrastructure program that is worthy of recovery what you want to do is build it back better. What you don't want to do is continue to over promise and completely and utterly under deliver."

Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt has also raised concern about unfair distribution and says his party wants to amend legislation to ensure big businesses don't benefit unnecessarily from the public purse.

"The spin in this budget is really only a centimetre deep. You scratch it and you find that the government is not investing in job creating and nation building projects but instead out-sourcing recovery but giving billions of dollars in handouts to big corporations and billionaires in the hope that some of it might trickle down."

The federal budget also includes more than 10 billion dollars for the aged care sector but the government hasn't confirmed the exact dollar figure.

But at a Health Services Union rally on Monday, aged care worker Charlene Glass said she was thinking of leaving the industry because of low pay and a lack of support.

Ms Glass says a reduction in staff at her workplace has lead to her struggling with mental health issues.

"I don't know if I'm going to go back. I'm just really sorry. I really love my job but in the circumstances leading up to it the stress is too much for me."

In response to criticism that the budget funding is not likely to be enough, Senator Birmingham insists the government's contribution is significant.

"Australians will see a once in a generation investment in aged care that really is stepping up the scale of investment in relation to the quality, safety and the availability of Australia's aged care. We do this in response to the Royal Commission in a carefully targetted way."

The Federal Opposition's Jim Chalmers says the government needs to put more focus on unemployed Australians.

"We need to make sure that there is a lasting legacy of this budget. It needs to be more than just getting a government through an election. It needs to be getting Australians, and particularly working Australians into secure well paid jobs that they can feed their families on."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the government has been too slow to act on the issue of aged care.

Mr Albanese wants the government to have a strong vision that supports both innovation and jobs.

"Many Australians are really struggling and will judge the budget on whether it works for people or not. Because our economy should work for people, should lift wages, should lift living standards, should create opportunities.

For this government, they see it as people working for the economy in some abstract way."

And for older Australians, the budget will involve a lowering of the age for when older Australians can use home sale funds to boost their superannuation balance.

There are reports that from July next year, 2022, people aged over 60 will be permitted to use some of their sale profits while the current age limit is 65 years or older.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the shift is important because it'll give retirees more autonomy.

 

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