Indian-Australians reflect on 'mixed bag' 2022 budget as family visas 'put on back burner'

International students, taxation and migration experts, and business leaders from Australia's Indian community say the budget does give hope but is found wanting in key aspects.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down his fourth budget in the House of Representatives at Parliament House

Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks on as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down his fourth budget in the House of Representatives at Parliament House. Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

As parts of Australia face severe flooding, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg presented his fourth, and perhaps most important, budget to the Australian Parliament.

Cost of living remained the pivotal subject for this year’s fiscal budget.

The government is promising “temporary and targeted” relief for Australian households and businesses facing cost of living pressures. 

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This includes a $420 cost of living tax offset for more than 10 million low- and middle-income earners.


Highlights:

  • Indian student community says more could have been done for cost of living relief. 
  • While the increase in Skilled Migration ceiling is appreciated, family visas remain a concern.
  • Community appreciates incentives to small and medium sized businesses and first home buyers.

It will be available from 1 July 2022 when people submit their 2021-22 tax returns. This one-off payment is estimated to reduce tax receipts by $4.1 billion over the forward estimates period.

It means those eligible will receive up to $1,500 and couples up to $3,000 from 1 July this year - an increase from current rates.

Dhyana Shah is the Assistant Secretary of Ekansh, the University of Sydney’s Indian students' association.

Dhyana Shah
Dhyana Shah is an international student in Sydney. Source: Supplied by Dhyana Shah


"Last year coming to Australia was a struggle for international students, this year surviving here is," she says.

A temporary cut of 22 cents to excise on fuel has been imposed for the next six months. The budget has also made provisions for a one-off cost-of-living relief payment of $250 for six million Australians.

"The surge in rent prices post COVID-19, and skyrocketing grocery prices leaves a meager $250 one-off payment inadequate," Ms Shah adds.

However, she sees the increased funding for STEM education as an opportunity.

"It will increase the incentive for Indians to pursue STEM careers, leading to higher productivity and long-term economic growth," she says.

Kunal thaker
Kunal Thaker, Vice President, Ekansh Indian Cultural Society, University of Sydney Source: Supplied by Kumal Thaker


International student and Vice President of Ekansh, Kunal Thaker agrees.

"The funding for STEM programs in the education sector is an ideal step to encourage students to grab opportunities in terms of occupation-related sectors," he says.

Sheba Nandkeolyar
Sheba Nandkeolyar, Chair, Women in Business Chapter, Australia India Business Council Source: Supplied by Sheba Nandkeolyar


Sheba Nandkeolyar is the chair of the Women in Business chapter of the Australia India Business Council.

She says she appreciates the support accorded to small and medium sized businesses in terms of tax cuts, apprenticeship incentives, and paid parental leave.

The budget included a new $2.8 billion investment in trade apprenticeships, involving $5,000 payments to apprentices and $15,000 wage subsidies for employers.

"For a small business cash flow will always be an issue. So these benefits will help the economy grow into a more digitally savvy economy," she says.

The 2022-2023 Budget Papers are seen at a printing facility prior to being delivered to Parliament House in Canberra, Sunday, March 27, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
The 2022-2023 Budget Papers are seen at a printing facility prior to being delivered to Parliament House in Canberra, Sunday, March 27, 2022. Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas


New parents will now be entitled to the 20-week paid parental leave that can be divided between parents as per their choice. Single parents will also have access to the same 20-week leave scheme. 

Ms Nandkeolyar adds, "Often single parents get the wrong end of the stick, especially if it is the woman. Parental leave also is a big boon."

Rohit Mohan
Registered migration agent and expert Rohit Mohan Source: Supplied by Rohit Mohan


Under the budget, the Permanent Migration cap will remain at 160,000. Although, the number of skilled places has been increased from 79,600 to 89,600.

Registered migration agent Rohit Mohan says, "The budget looks quite promising for migrants. Skilled migrants will be elated to know that the government has increased the skilled migrant intake for the next financial year."

However, migration agent Seema Chauhan feels the budget focuses only on skilled migration and not families being united.

"The unchanged capping on the permanent residency program indicates that family visas are now being put on the back burner.

"As a result, there will be further delays in processing times and long waits for family reunions," she says.

Rahul Singh
Taxation expert Rahul Singh Source: Supplied by Rahul Singh


Registered auditor and tax agent Rahul Singh feels this is a good budget for first home buyers. 

"All Indians who hold permanent residency or citizenship and want to buy a first home can take benefit from the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS). The FHSSS can boost their savings towards a deposit by at least 30 per cent compared with saving through a standard deposit account," he says.

Ms Nandkeolyar weighs in further, "Overall the budget is a good one as it focuses on small business, women, STEM development, defence, higher education and infrastructure."

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4 min read
Published 29 March 2022 at 11:02pm
By Vrishali Jain