10 May 2023

Federal Budget delivers surplus, cost-of-living relief and more public servants

| Chris Johnson
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Jim Chalmers

Jim Chalmers delivered the 2023-24 Budget last night: there’s a surplus but not for long. Photo: Screenshot.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has forecast the first budget surplus in 15 years and Labor’s first since Paul Keating’s in 1989.

However, the slender $4.2 billion surplus announced in the Federal Budget will be short-lived, with economic pressures expected to quickly plunge the nation back into the red over the forward estimates.

“The global economy is slowing due to persistent inflation, higher interest rates and financial sector strains,” the Treasurer said Tuesday night while delivering his second budget.

“Outside of the pandemic and the global financial crisis, the next two years are expected to be the weakest for global growth in over two decades.

“This will affect us here in Australia.

“Our economic growth is expected to slow from 3.25 per cent in 2022–23 to 1.5 per cent the year after before recovering to 2.25 per cent in the next.

“Despite this, our economy will continue to create jobs and unemployment is expected to remain low by historical standards – 4.25 per cent in 2023–24, and 4.5 the year after.

“In this environment, inflation remains our primary economic challenge.”

READ ALSO Lock up your budget, tonight’s the night

The centrepiece of the budget is a $14.6 billion cost-of-living package with targeted relief for welfare payments, power bills and affordable housing.

And, as first reported by Region this week, the size of the Australian Public Service will grow by more than 10,000 to help deliver more programs in-house and accelerate the transition from the overuse of external contractors and consultants.

Finance and Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher said the government was making the necessary investments in the 2023-24 Budget to continue rebuilding the service.

“This is an important investment in our public and democratic institutions and also our community,” Senator Gallagher said.

The budget allocates $10.9 million to establish an in-house consulting function, $8.4 million to build the capability of the APS to address service-wide challenges; and $3.4 million to support the government’s commitment to achieve 5 per cent First Nations employment by 2030.

An investment of $2 billion is going towards modernising the government’s ICT systems to deliver simpler, more secure and connected digital services.

READ ALSO Federal Budget to focus on steering APS programs away from the private sector

For cost-of-living relief, an investment of $3.5 billion will triple the bulk billing incentive for the most common GP consultations for children under 16 and Commonwealth concession card holders.

The cost of medicines will be reduced by up to half for at least six million Australians, with some patients able to receive two months’ worth of medicines per visit to their pharmacy instead of the current one.

The budget promises up to $3 billion of electricity bill relief in combination with the states and territories.

A total of $4.9 billion is directed to increasing the base rate of JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance by $40 per fortnight for eligible recipients, including extending eligibility for the existing higher rate of the JobSeeker Payment to single Australians aged 55 to 59 years who have been on the payment for nine or more continuous months.

Rent assistance will be increased by 15 per cent, and the Single Parenting Payment will be expanded to parents who are principal carers whose youngest child is under 14 years of age – up from eight years old.

“People are under the pump. We’ve carefully calibrated and designed this budget so that it takes pressure off the cost of living rather than adding to it,” Dr Chalmers said.

“This budget prioritises responsible, targeted cost of living relief while also investing in the future, securing the services Australians rely on and strengthening the nation’s finances.”

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said a “drover’s dog” could have handed down this budget, which only delivers a fleeting surplus.

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You promised and you delivered. No regrets whatsoever.

– Massively increased immigration.
– No real spend on infrastructure for pending immigration
Paying women to stay at home and not have job until their kids are 14, to spend more time with their children.
Cheaper childcare so stay at home mums can put kids in childcare for cheaper.
Nothing for working parents to particiate more with their children.

One off $500 payment for cost of living, yet only policy that delivers on a decrease on inflation is the changes to pharmacy and doctors visits.

Thanks to the oil, mineral and gas lobby for sponsoring this years budget surplus.
Seems all we are doing is making it cheaper for china to buy our coal.

devils_advocate11:28 am 10 May 23

There are no “stage 3 tax cuts”

They are just handing back part of what has been progressively stolen over the years through bracket creep.

More tax cuts are required to incentivise high and middle income earners into the workforce

Remember: the value of your labour, and therefore your contribution to the economy, is equal to your wage. Your wage is literally how much the economy values your contribution.

Yep exactly, I saw a story on the news about someone who was complaining the Jobseeker allowance was too low and boasting that they’d “done everything right” by completing their year 12, etc. Unfortunately the only intelligence test in life is money.

“Your wage is literally how much the economy values your contribution.”

What a load of poppycock.

Particulalry with regard to the upper echelon, it’s what they can ‘screw out of the company’ with support of their mates on the board’.

As an example – as revealed in QANTAS’s annual report, outgoing chief executive Alan Joyce’s annual salary INCREASED by $287,000 in the 2021/22 FY (to $5,575,000) amid delays, cancellations and other problems that have plagued the airline and damaged its reputation. Whereas a QANTAS Captain earns between $91,000 – $258,000 with the average being $161,500 p.a.

The “economy” would probably be a little concerned if there were no pilots in QANTAS – I doubt it will miss Joyce.

devils_advocate12:44 pm 10 May 23


So do tell what is your superior methodology for valuing the marginal productivity of labour?

I’d be more than happy tpo have the value of labour tied to productivity … so perhaps you can explain to me how the likes of Alan Joyce is over 20 times more productive than a highly trained/skilled pilot

If being a CEO is so easy and non-productive why don’t more welfare-recipients becomes CEOs? Might they be missing some requisite business acumen? Joyce has improved Qantas’ profitability and that’s the single biggest contribution to the economy. You can’t run a society with people living on welfare.

Bob the impala7:16 pm 10 May 23

devils_advocate, you are confusing wages with production. You will find clear explanations answering your question if you google your own words, “valuing the marginal productivity of labour”. The answer is not wages, and wages have many other variables.

Bob the impala7:18 pm 10 May 23

“the only intelligence test in life is money”

Sam Oak, thanks for your succinct example of concluding your premise. It is nigh on self-refuting.

devils_advocate7:32 pm 10 May 23


I don’t need to explain Alan Joyce’s productivity. The qantas shareholders do. Because that’s how markets allocate resources.

Alternatively, you could just have the government do it in a centrally planned economy.

Think of how many empty tram sets we could have!

Really, d_a? Ummm shareholders do not determine the CEO’s salary – if they did, then we can be certain people like Joyce would not be getting $5.5m pa

“empty tram sets”? Does Alan Joyce drive trams in his spare time?

@Sam Oak
… and during COVID, Sam?

Where was Joyce’s “business acumen” when QANTAS was tanking? It saw him him going cap in hand to the Federal government begging for a handout worth billions – one of the single biggest drains on the economy. And the government handout still kept him paid, while his highly qualified and skilled pilots were stood down and forced to drive buses to try to survive financially.

Mind you, I’d hardly expect someone like you, who continuously receives tax handouts from the government and calls it ‘good business’, to see the irony in that situation.

JS they approve his salary at AGMs though since you don’t own any assets you probably don’t understand that.

@Sam Oak
I have assets, Sam, and I own them. No doubt a lot of your assets are tied up in investment/margin loans so you can suck even more out of the tax system.

Bob the impala12:06 pm 11 May 23

You are smearing the facts, Sam Oak. Shareholders are presented with a report on remuneration for key management personnel (executives and directors) covering direct pay, and short and long term incentives and their structure. They may accept or reject this as a whole, not individual salaries. Voting against on the basis of the pay of a single member of the executive would be unusual. An unfavourable vote over 25% is a first strike, where a second the following year will cause a spill of the board.

Executive value is difficult to measure. I am sure you will consider Forbes has business standing, so here is their piece from a few years ago saying:
“the more CEOs get paid, the worse their companies do over the next three years, according to extensive new research” and
“The negative effect was most pronounced in the 150 firms with the highest-paid CEOs”.


devils_advocate12:48 pm 11 May 23

@Bob the impala

I was more pointing out that if investors lose faith in the CEO or board they will sell the shares and the share price will tank

The share price indicates the investor’s views on how the company is being run

Bob, that goes for anything in a democratic voting system. There are simply too many micro level decisions to be voting on each and every one of them. But the remuneration structure of the company as a whole is what you vote on and shareholders can vote no if they don’t approve of it. That’s how agent principal relationships work.

My original point stands, if any dole bludger thinks they can do a better job or are entitled to that kind of salary they are welcome to apply for the CEO’s position.

Bob the impala5:06 pm 11 May 23

Sam Oak and devils_advocate, we are agreed that the CEO’s salary is not determined directly by shareholders or performance but we trust it is not wholly uncorrelated. Thus, it is not a true measure of value.

devils_advocate, I agree with your last paragraph, including your use of the word “indicates”. At least, I for one prefer that it is reasonably true while still expecting some mis-pricing.

Sam Oak, why would you expect them to employ a new bludger when they already have one of their own?

Less facetiously, your posited case is beyond silly, saying nothing about either person.

Over 1 million immigrants coming in the next couple of years. Where’s that power and water coming from? Don’t worry about EVs, the roads will be so clogged, it will be quicker to walk to work

It’s a reasonable budget although the surplus should have been bigger considering the massive increase in revenue this year that is unlikely to be sustained. Some of the projections seem questionable in their optimism.

Also interesting to see the booming income tax receipts tens of billions more than that predicted just a few years ago.

Nearly half of all revenue is being collected from individuals, highlighting the importance of future tax reform with too high a reliance on income taxes, even with the planned stage 3 tax cuts.

Capital Retro9:32 am 10 May 23

Wayne Swan, where are you?

Stephen Saunders9:13 am 10 May 23

Or, here’s my headline: “Federal budget delivers population explosion, crashing environment and widening inequality.”

Ironically, the best places to read about those aspects, are the UK Daily Mail and News Com AU.

Welcome to welfare Australia, yet again , expect the middle class to wear the cost and receive nothing,

It’s completely bonkers. Record tax revenue for the government due to tax creep, exorbitant taxes on property and businesses. Meanwhile dole bludgers get a raise for doing what? Voting in a Greens/Labour government!

@Sam Oak
So, the serial tax avoider is complaining about the tax he can’t avoid paying? No surprises there – just typical of your ‘anyone but me’ attitude

If the top end of town paid tax according to their means, rather than only paying what they can’t legally avoid, then middle income earners wouldn’t have to shoulder the bulk of the “heavy lifting”.

Capital Retro10:37 am 10 May 23

I know several “serial tax evaders” and they all vote Labor.

That’s a ridiculously misinformed statement. The top 20% of tax payers account for 80% of the tax revenue.

Righty'o'then11:04 am 10 May 23

The top tax rate has not changed since 2008-2009. So looking at the changes previous to these years shows incremantal increases to the top tax rates. What was the earnings from not passing these incremental incresses?This current change is way long over due and has been held off to bleed higher and hard working people. To deny workers with 120k to 200k who get nothing from government support is selfish and crazy.

Agreed …. although the surplus will be shortlived as it’s not forecast to continue beyond this budget

@Sam Oak
“That’s a ridiculously misinformed statement.”
Is it really misinformed, Sam? Between 2009 and 2019, the top 10 per cent of income earners secured 93 per cent of the income growth in Australia during that period.

devils_advocate12:47 pm 10 May 23


So assuming they secured 93 per cent of the income growth… that would be the income base on which they are contributing 80% of total tax revenues?

I don’t see the contradiction.

Must be kind of like how I know many, numerous, countless serial tax evaders and they’re all Liberal voters.

The one thing we can all agree with is all dole bludgers vote Green.

@Sam Oak
Really, Sam? That’s a pretty broad assumption that they vote Green. Like assuming all those who bludge on the tax system vote for the Coalition.

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