The Budget: Hoo boy...

Last night’s federal budget was a rather odd effort from Josh Frydenberg.

The headline number was, naturally, the deficit.

While this year’s number came in fifty billion less than what was expected, deficits will continue for another three years, and maybe more.

And by then, economic growth will drop by two percent and inflation will rise.

Put another way, every Australian, no matter how old, as a result of this budget, will owe the government $37,500.

In practical terms, this means the government is at risk of having to pay higher interest rates on the debt, meaning less money to spend on things like aged care and health in the future.

If that worries you, then you’re still better off than the tourism sector, especially those EP businesses that rely on international tourism.

With the vaccine rollout being about as effective as a flyscreen on a submarine, and the mixed messaging coming from the government about borders, you would think there would be something extra for the sector.

Instead, the sector receives the inside of a donut, and I’m not talking about a cream filled one.

Budgeting's not much fun, but spending money you don't have sure is... Image: Canva (User tapanakorn)

As an acknowledgement of the vaccine failure to date, Just under two billion has been allocated for the rollout…. Over the next two years.

That’s an encouraging timeframe… especially when you consider that, for all the talk of quarantine facilities needing to be expanded, the amount of money allocated to such a project was the same figure as an egg: 0.

Having said that, for those nearing retirement there’s some good news, especially if you’re working part time.

The superannuation guarantee has been changed to remove the $450 a month minimum, which means that everyone who works gets a super contribution from their employer.

That’s in addition to the fact that older Australians don’t need to pass a work test before voluntary super contributions, and the increase of guarantees from nine and a half to twelve percent will go ahead.

The mental health and aged care problems the government is facing will be attacked through huge cash injections as expected, although how effective the cash is remains to be seen, given how often governments of all stripes have tried to spend problems away in various sectors over the years.

Tradies and farmers do well as the instant write off has been extended to 2023, and low and middle income earners will retain the income tax offset for the next 12 months, although the fact this hasn’t been made a permanent measure by the anti-Tax party in our two party system, is somewhat odd.

The other big win for farmers is a $370 million biosecurity boost, ensuring crop protection isn’t as much of a concern as it might otherwise be.

An interesting spend was just over $20 million for improvements in productivity and efficiency of heavy vehicles, such as trucks, which is a help, although having that cash put into rail freight would be a bigger assistance.

The tax take for the state government from the GST contribution will go up almost a billion dollars this year, which is good for the state and local infrastructure, although how much of this comes to the EP is to be determined.

In specific roads funding, it was already established that funding would go to the Augusta Highway as opposed to other roads, but that had already been covered in previous budgets, both state and federal.

However, an extra million dollars was allocated to the widening of the Eyre Highway as the only EP specific measure, although we will share in other expenditures.

All things being equal, we didn’t get much in the EP as far as specific funding, but some of the bigger ticket items will have a bigger impact here than elsewhere, so we’ve been reasonably looked after.

Looking at things with a bigger picture perspective though, this comes across as a true election budget, with as many goodies for as many as possible and minimal pain.

The equivalent of mum and dad throwing the veggies in the bin and declaring chocolate and ice cream for dinner.

Which augurs well for now, but as for the future?

Yeah, good luck with that.

We’ll need it.