We are fast approaching budget week when the Treasurer the Hon. Josh Frydenberg will bring down his third budget.
We all will recall the delayed October 2020 budget – an unprecedented stimulus package designed to soften the blow of COVID-19 related impacts for Australian individuals and businesses. We had JobKeeper, JobSeeker, tax cuts, business relief on compliance and much more, all designed to protect jobs and keep the economic wheels turning.
Six months on and the report card is largely positive and ahead of the Government’s forecasts. Unemployment is now at 5.6 per cent, we recorded our largest trade surplus in history ($10.1 billion) in January, retail spending rose a further 1.4 per cent from February to March, and in many sectors, businesses are crying out for more workers. Commodities, especially iron ore, are performing strongly.
The Treasurer is likely to build on this momentum, particularly as confidence continues to improve and the vaccine roll-out progresses. Defence spending increases are already being announced, and the Treasurer is aiming for a growth agenda to target support for businesses, boost investment and create jobs – all with his eyes firmly fixed on the election horizon. Indeed, in a landmark speech yesterday, the Treasurer confirmed the Budget will focus on bringing unemployment down below 5 per cent, rather than focus on a return to surplus. This represents a marked change from previous Coalition Budget objectives and confirms jobs growth as the Government’s number one priorty at present.
The Tasmanian Government goes to the Polls on Saturday 1st May. With the Hare-Clark voting system, election outcomes can be harder to predict in Tasmania. Indications are that the incumbent Liberal Government led by Premier Peter Gutwein is in front of the ALP under the leadership of Rebecca White, though maybe not with a sufficient lead to govern with a majority (13 seats needed for a majority).
This week we were privileged to receive a visit from Australia’s new Attorney General Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash. While last week we were pleased to host Jim Chalmers, Shadow Treasurer for a cocktail event. Both presented wonderful opportunities for clients and friends of the firm to meet two key members of Australia’s political leadership.
Peter Costantini & Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash