As the deadline for the 2023 Federal budget draws near, several industry heads are spearheading pre-budget submissions to convince the government of the need to address their budgetary concerns.
Healthcare, renewable energies, real estate, and small business are just some of the industries sending submissions to the government around issues to tackle on May 9.
Sector submissions go hand-in-hand with the need to address rising costs of living and the need to up-skill workers across Australia.
The rising cost of living
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has called for Job Seeker allowances to be raised to $76 a day in order to meet the rising costs of living and to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes.
ACOSS said the Albanese Government needed to put people with the lowest incomes at the forefront of its first major Budget.
ACOSS said by doing this, financial stress would be reduced, and inflation could be tackled in a way that would directly reduce hardship.
CEO Cassandra Goldie said the government must start making bolder decisions to responsibly tackle the rising cost of living.
“With more than three million people in poverty in Australia, this budget must deliver cost-of-living relief for those who need it most and help shape a more inclusive society,” Dr Goldie said.
Housing and homelessness
Homelessness Australia wants the Albanese Government to recognise the growing gap between the cost of housing and real incomes.
The peak body for homelessness in the country said the government needed to approve a $2 billion rapid-rehousing fund as well as expand the Housing Australian Future Fund.
These funds would support the annual construction of 25,000 social housing properties and increase commonwealth rent assistance by 50 per cent.
“The federal government made a series of commitments to combat the housing crisis last year, but since then, the supply and affordability of rental housing have badly deteriorated,” CEO of Homelessness Australia Kate Colvin said.
A new analysis by the organisation found that while incomes had grown 5 per cent over two years, rents had outstripped them over the same period, increasing by 28 per cent.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) on April 26 urged the Albanese Government to invest in national vaccination programs and introduce a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for pharmacist immunisations.
If passed, the MBS fee would be available in all primary care locations where pharmacists vaccinate, including community pharmacies and general practices.
“Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective interventions against preventable disease,” PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said.
“We need to be doing everything we can to remove barriers and encourage more Australians to get vaccinated and be protected against preventable diseases like influenza, Meningococcal and HPV.”
Meanwhile, the Vice President of the Doctors Reform Society, Dr Robert Marr, said there was an urgent need for the Albanese government to increase the Medicare Bulk billing incentive from $10 to at least $20.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is calling on the Federal Government to establish a National Energy Transition Authority in its May budget to support workers in the country’s transition to net zero.
The establishment of a National Energy Transition Authority would allow coordination across governments, departments, industry and communities to make sure no worker is left behind.
In the last decade, eleven coal-fired power stations have closed, with an average notice period of four months, leaving workers and communities in the lurch.
ETU acting National Secretary Michael Wright said a transition authority was beyond overdue.
“The transition to renewable energy is not some distant, hypothetical event,” Mr Wright said.
“It is happening now and workers and their communities are shouldering the burden.”
The ETU said a national authority would help to plan and coordinate the investment of billions of dollars to create new industries and better jobs.
According to the Australian Energy Council, in September last year, the Greens proposed a bill to establish a National Energy Transition Authority (NETA) to plan, coordinate, and fund the transition to renewable energy.
However, despite advocacy from unions, the Federal Government has remained uncommitted to the idea.
Upskilling and apprentice recruitment
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) has advised that this year, the Federal Budget needs to employ meaningful and long-term commitments to fund apprentice and trainee recruitment.
ITECA Chief Executive Troy Williams said government incentives that only lasted for a year or two did not provide potential apprentices, trainees, employers or training organisations with the confidence to engage meaningfully in training.
The peak body represents independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors, which have all grown in recent years.
“As they consider taking on an apprentice and trainee, employers need confidence that the policy settings of today will provide, as a minimum, the support available over the term of the apprenticeship and traineeship,” Mr Williams said.
Support for small businesses
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) have proposed the establishment of a new fund that would provide financial advice to small businesses across Australia.
If granted, the fund would help small business owners to plan a more sustainable future.
“Small businesses suffered on a number of fronts during the pandemic, and those that were able to survive and thrive are now at a point where they need detailed financial advice,” Fellow Chartered Accountant from CA ANZ group executive advocacy Simon Grant said.
Mr Grant said the company was calling on the Federal Government to create a grant that ensured small businesses could work with their trusted adviser, bring business records up to date, produce a cash flow forecast for at least the next three months, and explore the various pathways available to build a sustainable business.
“Many small business owners have spent the last few years in survival mode and haven’t had the opportunity or funds to engage a financial expert to ensure their business operations are viable,” Mr Grant said.
What did last year look like?
Last year’s budget saw a need to strengthen the Australian economy and considered five prioritised areas of concern: households, regions, health, education, and the environment.
The budget delivered cost-of-living relief through aids such as cheaper childcare, a target of one million new homes, investments in social and affordable housing, and the support of small businesses.
Pre-Budget submissions for 2023 have been proposed to the Albanese Government, which will hand down the budget on Tuesday, May 9.