Federal Budget 2021: Aussies given $7.8 billion in tax relief but borders to be closed until 2022

Australians will live it up in a booming, Covid-free economy over the next two years – but the majority of the population will have to live in a virtual hermit kingdom until at least mid-2022. 

That is the bargain Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tried to strike with the country on Tuesday night as part of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to win a fourth consecutive term for the Coalition in extraordinary times.

The government has extended tax breaks for 10million Aussies, increased welfare for those looking for jobs, reformed childcare to save 250,000 families an average of $2,200 a year, and made it easier for single parents to buy their first home. 

Everyone is a winner in the 2021 Pandemic Budget –  almost. 

The flip side is foreigners have been banned from entering Australia since March 2020 with the Budget predicting that would continue until at least the middle of next year and that is only if everyone is vaccinated by the end of the year.

The government is hoping to be rewarded politically for keeping Australia safe as the economy bounces back very strongly from the Covid lockdowns. 

Australians will live it up in a booming, Covid-free economy that is sealed off from the rest of the world until at least mid-2022

With a possible early election in mind, the government is extending the low and middle-income tax offsets for another year for 10million workers, at a cost of $7.8billion.

This will see 4.6million Australians, earning between $48,000 and $90,000 receive $1,080 as another 1.8million people earning $37,000 to $48,000 were given back $255.

In his speech, Mr Frydenberg was keen to focus the country’s attention on two facts. 

The economy is in incredible shape and, for the most part, our loved ones weren’t murdered by a killer plague. 

‘Australia’s fate could have been so much worse,’ Mr Frydenberg told Parliament on Tuesday night.  And he is right.

The catastrophe that has afflicted India, the United Kingdom, the US, Italy, Brazil – and most nations on Earth – has been averted in Australia.

Rather than hundreds of thousands of dead, Australia has lost 910 people to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In 2020, Treasury economists feared unemployment would hit 15 per cent, for the first time since the 1930s Great Depression, as two million Australians were bereft of work.

Instead, the jobless rate in March stood at just 5.6 per cent, only marginally above the 5.2 per cent level just before the Covid lockdowns of March 2020.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made that deal with the country on Tuesday night as part of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's plan to win a fourth consecutive for the Coalition in extraordinary times. He is pictured with his wife Amie and their children Gemma and Blake

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made that deal with the country on Tuesday night as part of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to win a fourth consecutive for the Coalition in extraordinary times. He is pictured with his wife Amie and their children Gemma and Blake

The government is hoping to be rewarded politically for keeping Australia safe as the economy bounces back very strongly from the Covid lockdowns

The government is hoping to be rewarded politically for keeping Australia safe as the economy bounces back very strongly from the Covid lockdowns

A record 13.077million Australians now have a job compared to 778,100 who are unemployed.

Treasury is now expecting the jobless rate to fall to 4.75 per cent in 2022 and stay below 5 per cent out to 2025, which would be the longest run of historically-low unemployment since the 2006 to 2009 mining boom period leading up to the Global Financial Crisis.

Advertised job vacancies and consumer sentiment are at levels unseen in more than a decade and property prices in both the capital cities and regional areas are continuing to reach fresh record highs every month.

The Australian Securities Exchange on Monday also briefly surpassed the record-high closes level of February 2020, before the pandemic. 

Gold Coast parents Matt Jack and Jahnah Heaps approved. They are pictured with children Koah, 6, and one-year-old Ziggy

Gold Coast parents Matt Jack and Jahnah Heaps approved. They are pictured with children Koah, 6, and one-year-old Ziggy

Working parents will get a further boost as the budget slashes childcare fees for second and subsequent children and scraps the maximum subsidy amount, which will save 250,000 families an average of $2,200 a year. 

Burleigh Heads parents Matt Jack and Jahnah Heaps approved. 

‘We are both pleased with the childcare cost reduction,’ they told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Any subsidies will be a huge help, as long as it helps all families in all income brackets.’ 

Working parents will get a further boost as the budget slashes childcare fees for second and subsequent children and scraps the maximum subsidy amount, which will save 250,000 families an average of $2,200 a year.

Working parents will get a further boost as the budget slashes childcare fees for second and subsequent children and scraps the maximum subsidy amount, which will save 250,000 families an average of $2,200 a year.

With low-paid women in mind, from July 2022 the $450 monthly threshold before workers receive superannuation from their employer.

‘This will improve economic security in retirement for around 200,000 women,’ Mr Frydenberg said.

‘Our plan will also make it easier for Australians to prepare for retirement and to be more secure once in retirement.’

Colonial First State, a retail super fund, calculated that under super existing rules, a 30-year-old woman with $50,000 in retirement savings would only have $57,651 by the time they turned 40.

But this same woman, who took some time out of her career to raise children, would have $64,485 in superannuation within a decade under the scrapping of the $450 a month threshold – a $6,824 difference. 

Despite that prosperity, the young are missing out on a global adventure.

Foreigners have been banned from entering Australia since March 2020 and the Budget projected that would continue until at least the middle of next year, as a result of a slow vaccine rollout. Pictured are domestic passengers in Melbourne

Foreigners have been banned from entering Australia since March 2020 and the Budget projected that would continue until at least the middle of next year, as a result of a slow vaccine rollout. Pictured are domestic passengers in Melbourne

Mr Frydenberg, who once dreamed of being a tennis star, did not say a word in his Budget speech about overseas travel.

Jet setting to Bali or backpacking through Europe isn’t an option for the young for now.

That was confirmed not by the Treasurer but by anonymous public servants in Budget paperwork.

Canberra-based economists forecast that overseas travel will be ‘low’ until mid-2022, at the very least.

In other words, the nation’s borders will be shut to the rest of the world until at least then – probably even later.

It is one of the costs of a Covid-free Australia. And it is not the only one.

Treasury is now expecting the jobless rate to fall to 4.75 per cent in 2022 and stay below 5 per cent out to 2025, which would be the longest run of historically-low unemployment since the 2006 to 2009 mining boom period leading up to the Global Financial Crisis

Treasury is now expecting the jobless rate to fall to 4.75 per cent in 2022 and stay below 5 per cent out to 2025, which would be the longest run of historically-low unemployment since the 2006 to 2009 mining boom period leading up to the Global Financial Crisis

Gold Coast tourism operators are particularly affected as international visitors are locked out. 

Lincoln Testa, the proprietor of Madison’s Cafe at Broadbeach said the uncertainty around lockdowns, in the absence of overseas tourists, was bad for business. 

‘What we have to eliminate is the uncertainty around Covid. Like at Easter where everyone cancelled three days beforehand due to a lockdown,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘A lot of those families from this area go overseas for holidays but they won’t be able to do that for quite a while now with no international travel… and so it’s better to travel in your own state. 

‘You don’t want to be in the air flying and then a lockdown is called.’

International students – who once propped up not just the tertiary education sector but also inner-city rental markets – will only trickle in over the next two years. Pictured are Australian National University students in Canberra

International students – who once propped up not just the tertiary education sector but also inner-city rental markets – will only trickle in over the next two years. Pictured are Australian National University students in Canberra

International students – who once propped up not just the tertiary education sector but also inner-city rental markets – will only trickle in over the next two years.

In February 2021, just 200 international students came to Australia, marking a 99.8 per cent plunge compared with February 2020, the last full month before the pandemic. 

During the last financial year, taking in the early months of the pandemic, Australia’s net immigration rate stood at 194,400. 

Population growth is now slowing to a trickle, with Australian citizens threatened with fines of up to $66,600 and five years’ jail for returning from India. 

With low-paid women in mind, from July 2022 the $450 monthly threshold before workers receive superannuation from their employer

With low-paid women in mind, from July 2022 the $450 monthly threshold before workers receive superannuation from their employer

But many Australians – safe in our cocoon – seem not to mind.

A belligerent China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, has escalated diplomatic tensions with a series of trade sanctions and hints from President Xi Jinping a war could be fought over Taiwan involving the United States. 

But record iron ore prices, thanks to China’s insatiable demand for the West Australian commodity used to make steel, have boosted government revenue. 

Amid the geopolitical uncertainty, Josh Frydenberg started his speech saying ‘Australia is coming back’.

Perhaps it won’t be the Australia we knew before.

What the Budget means for you

If you earn less than $450 a month 

The requirement that workers have to earn $450 a month with a single employer before they get super payments will be scrapped.

This policy will mostly benefit women, with twice as many women than men earning less than $450 a month.

If you’re a small business owner

In a huge win for businesses, the government will extend for another year the instant asset write-off which allows companies to write-off the full value of any asset they buy.

It means tradies can buy new utes and farmers can buy new tractors and deduct the full cost from their profits.

The loss carry-back scheme will also be extended until June 2023, allowing companies to offset previously taxed profits as far back as the 2018-19 income year.

Mr Frydenberg will also streamline Australia’s insolvency laws further for small and large businesses.

The government will increase the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $4,000.

This will help prevent distressed but viable companies from being pushed into liquidation over small debts.

The government will consult on how trusts are treated under insolvency laws, and whether the so-called insolvent trading safe-harbour provisions that were introduced in 2017 remain fit for purpose.

It is also considering the introduction of a moratorium on creditor enforcement while insolvency schemes are being negotiated.

This comes on top of the changes that came into force from January 1 that simplified the restructuring and liquidation process for small firms, providing directors greater control to either restructure or wind down their operations.

The government will allow small businesses to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to pause or modify Australian Taxation Office debt recovery actions where the debt is being disputed in the AAT.

Under existing rules, small businesses are only able to pause or modify tax office debt recovery actions through the court system, which can be costly and time consuming.

Applying to the AAT instead of the courts will save small businesses at least several thousands of dollars in court and legal fees and as much as 60 days of waiting for a decision.

If you’re a school leaver

The JobTrainer program providing free short courses for thousands of young Aussies will be extended to provide another 163,000 training places.

The policy, announced last year, saw the federal government provide $500million for free vocational courses, with the funding matched by state and territory governments.

The scheme means that a certificate in business administration or a certificate in customer engagement which normally cost $1,320 will be free.

To qualify, you must be aged 17 to 24, unemployed or expect to become unemployed.

Mr Frydenberg revealed the policy has subsidised tuition fees for 100,000 places since September.

The courses are designed to prepare workers for jobs in expanding sectors including healthcare, social care, transport, postal services and warehousing, manufacturing and retail.

The government has also removed the 100,000-person cap on the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements scheme after the places filled up in just five months.

The policy was due to stop on September 30, 2021 but any apprentice hired before then will have half their wages paid by the government for a whole year from the day they start.

Mr Morrison expects the extension will help another 70,000 apprentices get jobs at a cost of $1.2billion to taxpayers.

If you’re a working parent

The government will spend $1.7billion on changes to the childcare system.

The cost of childcare for a second and subsequent child will be subsidised by up to 95 per cent, up from the current 85 per cent maximum.

About 250,000 families are expected to save $2,260 a year on childcare fees.

Families who earn a combined $110,000 and have two kids in childcare four days a week will save $95.39 a week. 

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