Member for Barker hits back at federal budget

BUDGET BUMBLE: Member for Barker Tony Pasin says he is disappointed in the 2024-2025 federal budget. Picture: SUPPLIED

Charlotte Varcoe

MEMBER for Barker Tony Pasin has hit back at the federal budget claiming it is “disastrous” for South Australia.

Federal treasurer Jim Chalmers handed down the budget on Tuesday night highlighting energy savings, a 10 per cent increase in rental assistance and an expected $9.3b surplus for 2023-2024.

Inflation is also expected to fall below three per cent and wages are expected to increase by about one per cent.

Despite the current expected surplus, a deficit for the coming years is predicted.

All Australians will receive a $300 energy bill relief subsidy, and as of July 1, all 13.6m taxpayers will receive a tax cut, with 84 per cent of taxpayers and 90 per cent of women getting a bigger tax cut than previously.

The tax cuts include reducing the 19 per cent tax rate to 16 per cent while the 32.5 per cent will be reduced to 30 per cent.

There will also be an increase in the 37 per cent tax threshold from $120,000 to $135,000 as well as a 45 per cent increase for those in the tax threshold between $180,000 to $190,000.

The cost of medications on the pharmacy benefit scheme will be frozen with patients paying no more than $31.50 for the next two years.

Concession card holders and pensioners are expected to pay no more than $7.70 for the medication they need with breast cancer medication also being slashed to about $31.60.

Mr Chalmers also announced the government would cap the indexation of student loans to either the consumer price index or wage price index, backdating it to mid-2023.

More urgent care clinics are also on the cards with the government announcing its plan to install a further 29 clinics across the country.

Mr Pasin said the budget was an “underwhelming document” and the federal government was “trying to look good” leading up to an election.

“Australians know they are poorer because of the wrong priorities and bad decisions the Albanese Labor Government has been making, the worst of which has led to a homegrown inflation crisis, which has forced the Reserve Bank to put up interest rates significantly and is delivering real harm to Australian households,” Mr Pasin said.

“An average Australian household with a mortgage is $35,000 worse off with this budget at best which means interest rates will stick for longer and go up even more for mortgage holders.”

He said Mr Chalmers was seeking to “hoodwink” Australians with the $300 payment towards their energy bills.

“Australians are smarter than that and they know their energy bills have gone up by far more than $300 a year,” Mr Pasin siad.

“I think the treasurer is trying to buy an inflation figure in about three months time that will justify a rush to the polls and it is very much a short term punch which will create very significant long-lasting, long-term pain.”

Mr Pasin said the reality was it did not address the “fundamental underlying drivers” of “homegrown inflation”.

“This is a government that is spending too much in the wrong places,” he said.

“In my assessment of this budget, there is a brand new $315b worth of spending at a time when households are having to tighten their budget.

“We have got a government that is spending an additional $30,000 for every household there is in Australia and that money is fuelling inflation and the people that are paying the price of the budget splash are people with a mortgage.”

Mr Pasin said although he believed the budget was “disappointing nationally” it was also “disastrous” for his home state.

“There is no new money from an infrastructure point of view,” he said.

“The changes to the Mount Barker and Verdun interchange – which was a project we committed to two years ago before it was cancelled – and the $100m South East freeway is money on top to meet with the cost blowouts because of their inability to manage their projects.

“I have looked through for announcements for the Limestone Coast and I have found none, then I looked more generally throughout Barker and there is no specific reference.”

Despite this, Mr Pasin said there were a range of things he was in agreement with regarding the federal budget.

He approved of the medication freeze for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme as well as funding for women and children fleeing domestic violence and the Leaving Violence Program.

“The rate of intimate partner homicide, abuse and harm in this country is a national disgrace and anything we can do to support that, I support,” Mr Pasin said.

“I also think the small business asset write odd is fantastic that it has been extended to 2025 but we encouraged the government to restore the pre-pandemic level which was $30,000.

“Increasingly from a small business point of view if you are buying equipment there is a whole suite of things you can get under $30,000.”

He said the increase in urgent care clinics across the country was also welcome and encouraged the federal government to consider Murray Bridge.

“I would also like to see the ones which are currently operating to do so at full volume,” Mr Pasin said.

“I am a little skeptical about the fact we do not know where those facilities will be leading up to the election so I will be watching closely so we do not see this as an exercise to win seats.”

Mr Pasin said should the Australian Liberal Party had been in government, the cost of living crisis and the housing crisis would have been high on its agenda from the beginning.

“Had we been in government we would have made the cost of living our number one focus from day one,” he said.

“I think this government is a bit late to the party, they stuffed around with The Voice to Parliament and other ideological pursuits for far too long, spending far too much money before they realised Australians just want them to get back to basics and help them deal with the cost of living crisis.”

Mr Pasin said these issues could not be fixed within one budget cycle and should have been a focus “from day one”.

“This is a desperate effort in the lead up to an election which is likely to take place later this year,” he said.