In the lead up to Tuesday’s budget, I sat down with three experts in their field to delve into what to expect from the upcoming first budget from the Albanese Government for a Streem and 89 Degrees East webinar. Here are the five key insights from Amit Singh, Leanne Wells and Alison Carabine you need to know ahead of Tuesday night.
1. International impacts
There’s no two ways about it: global economic circumstances at the moment are as challenging as they’ve ever been. As Amit detailed, the confluence of rising interest rates across the globe, numerous economies teetering on the brink of recession, and inflationary cost of living pressures, put Treasurer Jim Chalmers in a difficult spot.
As we saw on Thursday night, the consequences of getting a budget wrong can be extreme, with Liz Truss shown the door after just six weeks as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The international forces at play in this budget couldn’t be more significant.
2. Time to go beyond the numbers
The structural challenges facing the budget mean that the Treasurer is in a challenging situation when it comes to seriously reforming the budget bottom line. As such, the Albanese Government is set to focus on the nation’s wellbeing, with the first wellbeing chapter in a Commonwealth budget.
Leanne broke down what voters think of the idea of a wellbeing budget, revealing strong support for the initiative. All the details of the measures and areas the electorate wants addressed in a wellbeing budget can be found in 89 Degrees East’s insightful research.
3. Catching up with corporates (and the rest of the world)
The introduction of a wellbeing budget represents the Commonwealth catching up with the rest of the world, and big business, who have had a focus on wellbeing and their social impact for some time.
The wellbeing budget will bring Australia into line with what’s seen in countries including Scotland and New Zealand, and follows the Australian Capital Territory’s first wellbeing budget. It also follows in the footsteps of corporate Australia, who have devoted significant attention and effort to Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and environment, social and corporate governance efforts.
4. Big surprise is no surprises
Normally a budget contains a surprise or two, held back to lead the headlines on budget night. But this budget will be different, explained Alison. The circumstances of this budget, coming just five months after the election of the Albanese Government and just a few months ahead of May’s federal budget, mean that the focus of this budget will be about setting the scene for May.
As the panel unanimously agreed, the big surprise this budget will be no surprises – check back in May for the big, new announcements.
5. The voters will decide
At the end of the day, the success of the budget will come down to what voters think. The significant global pressures, the economic challenges domestically, and the rising cost of living for everyday Australians, present a vexed set of circumstances for the Treasurer.
The strong support shown for the idea of a wellbeing budget may go some way to shifting the discussion around how budgets are perceived and received by voters. But if things continue to get tougher for the electorate, the Albanese Government may be faced with some heavy lifting to do come their May budget.
These insights are just the tip of the iceberg of knowledge offered up by our panellists. Be sure to catch up on the webinar now.