News From green batteries to refugees and universities: Federal Budget wish lists revealed

From green batteries to refugees and universities: Federal Budget wish lists revealed

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is putting the finishing touches on his second federal Budget, to be delivered Tuesday, but many others have their own ideas of what should be included.

Budget season always brings with it countless submissions, thought bubbles, ideas and lobbying – both formal and informal – on how the government should spend its cash for the year.

Mr Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have already shared  large chunks of what will feature in the Budget, from manufacturing boosts to telecomunications upgrades and big infrastructure spending, with talk of big tax cuts and a $200 billion deficit on the cards.

But still, others want the government to pursue more, or different, spending plans.

Here’s some of the packages that have been called for in Tuesday’s federal Budget.

Services over tax cuts

Progressive think tank The Australia Institute has been making the case for weeks that hinted tax cuts should be dropped, in favour of investing in public services.

Investing in universities would create more jobs than tax cuts, The Australia Institute said. Photo: Getty

“If the government’s focus really is job creation, it would be far better to invest public money in jobs-rich services, such as healthcare and education, not to hand out tax cuts,” said Matt Grudnoff, senior economist at The Australia Institute.

He said putting money into areas like universities, childcare or aged care would create more jobs than would the same amount in tax cuts.

“Investing that amount of money across university education, childcare, healthcare, aged care and the creative arts would create 162,000 jobs. That is between seven and 12 times as many jobs as the tax cuts can be expected to create (13,000 to 23,000),” analysis from the think tank found.

Renewable manufacturing revolution

The World Wildlife Fund called on the government to pour $2 billion into a stimulus package led by renewable energy.

“A renewable-led recovery would create over 100,000 direct jobs and future-proof our economy,” WWF Australia said, just days after the government announced its plans for a “gas-led recovery”.

The environmental organisation claimed investing in clean energy projects would create three times more jobs than investments in fossil fuels.

WWF called for battery storage and solar power, new green buses, $520 million to convert manufacturing industries to use renewable power, and $225 million for hydrogen power research.

More visas for refugees

With COVID border closures drying up the number of migrants to a trickle, humanitarian groups called on the government to expand the number of visas granted to refugees on long waiting lists. This would help grow the nation’s population, and plug holes in the workforce left by a lack of workers, but also bring vulnerable people in from the cold.

The Refugee Council of Australia wants to see people on time-limited temporary protection visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas granted “a permanent visa if they complete one year of work in a critical industry”.

A similar proposal was flagged by the Iranian Women’s Association, which said “now is the time to provide individuals and families with permanent visas, so they can build their futures with us. ”

‘Emergency response’ for youth crisis

The National Youth Commission said young people have slugged by COVID’s economic effects, with casual or part-time jobs in industries like hospitality and tourism often the first to go. With youths graduating from school or university into a shattered jobs market, the NYCA called on

Jobs in hospitality were among the first to go. Photo: Getty

the government to provide wage subsidies for employers to take on young employees, an expansion of public sector traineeships, and to prioritise entry-level jobs across all government procurement.

“We ask that you take concrete action to prevent a generation of young people missing out on the opportunities and pathways for economic and social inclusion afforded to previous generations,” NYCA executive officer Keith Waters wrote in an open letter to the government.

Action on ‘unprecedented’ domestic violence

Claiming 40 per cent of women are being turned away from legal experts because of a lack of resources and “chronic underfunding to family violence legal assistance”,  Women’s Legal Services Australia has urged the government to pour $25 million into the sector, which they say is at “breaking point”.

Warning that the COVID pandemic and lockdowns have created a situation where domestic violence is spiralling behind closed doors, legal services say victims are not getting the help they need, and that governments have ignored this problem for years.

Insurance underwriting for festivals

Australia’s live music scene is in crisis, venue and festival owners say, with strict capacity limits to be enforced for the foreseeable future. Some promoters see the light at the end of the tunnel, and are starting to look at running larger events in mid-2021 or later. One of the country’s most iconic promoters, Michael Chugg of Frontier Touring, is hoping to run big concerts next year.

But he, like others, told The New Daily event insurance was almost impossible to get for COVID reasons – making events impossible to run. He called on the government to help underwrite events.

“Business interruption insurance, or underwriting from federal and state government, we really need it,” Mr Chugg said.

“There’s a model in Western Australia which is pretty good. We can’t shoulder all the risks and we really need it here. We need that help.”

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