Budget 2019: What working families are hoping for this year

Young families across the country are feeling the pinch of day-to-day living costs. They're hoping this year's federal budget on 2 April will help to relieve some of that pressure.

Mothers meet for coffee in central Penrith.

Mothers meet for coffee in central Penrith. Source: SBS

An hour west of Sydney's CBD, on the banks of the Nepean River, the traditionally working-class city of Penrith is a hub for an array of culturally diverse communities.

It's also home to many young parents, including mother of two Maria-Luisa Patisso.

Faced with unexpected legal costs for the past two years, she's been forced to tighten her belt, and now sticks to a strict budget each month in an attempt to stay on top of the growing costs of living.

"By budgeting and saving money on the things that don't matter, it means we just have a little bit of money left over for those unanticipated costs," Ms Patisso told SBS News. 

Maria-Luisa Patisso sticks to a weekly budget.
Maria-Luisa Patisso sticks to a weekly budget. Source: SBS

As well as calling around for the best utility deals, she writes a plan before going shopping each week and visits a number of stores to keep costs in check. 

"On groceries, we used to spend about $250 a week and I've managed to reduce that to about $100 a week by being a little bit clever and thinking outside the box," she said.

Ms Patisso also runs a Facebook page called My So-Called Lifestyle, offering advice and support to other families struggling to make ends meet. 

"There are so many costs that we can not avoid, but the ones that we can make a difference to, we absolutely do," she said.

Maria-Luisa Patisso writes a plan before each shopping trip.
Maria-Luisa Patisso writes a plan before each shopping trip. Source: SBS

On budget night, and ahead of the election, Ms Patisso will be looking for a reduction on day-to-day expenses, including electricity, healthcare and childcare.

"It would certainly sway my vote. Anything that is more of a bonus to a young family, it's got to be a good thing."

Juggling her role as a mother and disability care worker, Penrith resident Kerima told SBS News childcare costs leave her with little money left over to pay the bills.

"I can't afford to pay childcare, especially when I put my child in for four days, half of my salary is going to go to pay that, then what am I going to do to pay for other stuff? It's a bit expensive." 

Penrith mother and disability care worker, Kerima.
Penrith mother and disability care worker, Kerima. Source: SBS

She's desperate for relief, but wary of promises in this year's budget.

"During the campaign, they can say anything they want to say, so whatever happens, they get into power, then they do something different," she said. 

The government has hinted the budget will bring forward tax cuts for low and middle-income earners, in a move to counter Labor's own tax-relief agenda. It's also promising $200 million to reduce out of pocket medical costs for scans and ultrasounds.

But voters feeling the pinch in the Western Sydney electorate of Lindsay are looking for relief in other areas too.

Penrith resident and father of two, Mark, says the cost of daily expenses keep going up. 

"Electricity's a big cost, housing's a big cost, schooling, education, everything. They used to call Australia the lucky country, I call it the rip-off country now because everything's so expensive," he said.

Penrith resident of 30 years Jamie Clark is hoping for more funding for Indigenous youth programs.

He says he set up a football program in the area a number of years ago but was forced to shut it down due to lack of funding. 

"We did good, we got a lot of kids off the street, but we didn't get the funding we needed. So the club shut down," Mr Clark said.

"You need support, and if you don't get the support you're not going to go anywhere."

Jamie Clark is calling for more funding for Indigenous youth programs.
Jamie Clark is calling for more funding for Indigenous youth programs. Source: SBS

Lindsay has been a bellwether electorate since it was first contested, changing party hands with every change of government - with just one exception.

In 2016, incumbent Labor MP Emma Husar won by a margin of 1.1 per cent, despite a narrow coalition victory.

With a series of inappropriate conduct allegations levelled against her, Ms Husar won't re-contest the seat in the May election.

It opens the field to new candidates, Diane Beamer for Labor and Melissa McIntosh for the Liberals, who'll both be hoping their party's policies resonate with voters.

Penrith resident James Lockett says initiatives that relieve daily financial pressures will be key to gaining swing-voter support in the electorate.

"Anything that can have a cost-reduction impact on the weekly budget would be looked upon favourably by constituents in this region," he said.

Budget 2019-20 will be released at approximately 7.30pm (AEDT) on Tuesday 2 April 2019. SBS News will bring you all the details and reaction live , on  and on 

5 min read
Published 31 March 2019 at 2:38pm
By Michelle Rimmer