News National More pain than gain

More pain than gain

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• The Verdict: Did Joe Hockey get it right?
• Households to bear the brunt
• Medical research a big winner
• At a glance: your 5 minute guide to the budget
• Budget ‘breaks promises’: Labor
• ‘We could have cut harder’, says Joe Hockey

After weeks of warnings about harsh measures and budget emergencies, few expected to come out winners in the federal budget. But many will be surprised at just how deep Joe Hockey has cut.

Parents, pensioners, public servants, the unemployed, retirees, university students, and anyone who happens to get sick are all in for a tougher time as cuts to government spending bite, particularly in the areas of social welfare, health and education.

High income earners are hit too, with a two per cent deficit levy that will cost someone on $200,000 a year an extra $400 a year – for each of the next three years.

Mr Hockey has delivered the most stringent measures seen in years as part of his “budget repair mission” to cut the nation’s gross debt by $300 million in a decade’s time.

There are some winners, but they are few and far between: business got a 1.5 per cent cut in the company tax rate; workers aged over-50 get help finding work from a $10,000 payment to companies that give them a job; mothers get a generous paid parental leave scheme, albeit at a lower rate than Prime Minister Tony Abbott wanted.

And universities have been unshackled to charge whatever tuition fees they think students will pay and private colleges will benefit from direct government funding to students for the first time. (While that’s good news for them, students will almost certainly take a different view.)

Medical research stands to benefit as well, with the creation of a $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund. But the fund will be paid for by a $7 co-contribution that will be required of people who want to see a bulk-billing GP – one of a number of changes that will tighten family budgets.

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