There weren’t many – if any – major surprises announced by Treasurer Jim Chalmers as he handed down his third Federal Budget. 

The headline changes – to stage three tax cuts, the way HECS/HELP debts are indexed, and superannuation in parental leave – had hit the media cycle weeks, if not months ago.

However, there were some notable announcements consumers might be interested to learn of. 

$9.3 billion surplus predicted

The top line of the 2024 Federal Budget is lower than that of its predecessor, but not so much so that its slipped into the red. 

Dr Chalmers expects the government to realise a $9.3 billion surplus this financial year.

Though, some various policy items aren’t considered within the official ‘balance sheet’ and, thus, there could be considered more breathing room than there otherwise might have been.

Treasury is expecting to hold $904 billion of debt come the end of financial year 2023-2024.

It also forecasts that GDP growth will come to be 2% in the financial year 2024-2025.

Though, that is tipped to increase by 25 basis points every 12 months until 2027.

Meanwhile, unemployment is forecast to reach a top of 4.5% while inflation is expected to slow to 2.75% – within the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target range.

$300 energy bill relief 

The Federal Government has now promised households energy bill relief in back-to-back budgets, this time offering 10 million families $300.

It’s expected this will be directly paid to energy accounts, providing a credit to cover future bills. 

The relief payment will be offered in addition to various state government initiatives, such as Queensland’s $1,000 rebate and Tasmania’s $250 rebate, to eligible households.

It will cost the government $3.5 billion.

Deeming rates remain frozen 

Retirees and those receiving the Age Pension might be glad to learn deeming rates will be held steady for another 12 months.

Deeming rates are the rate at which the government deems a person’s assets to earn them, and they impact how much of the pension a person might receive. 

Deeming rates were frozen amid the pandemic era and will remain frozen until mid-2025. 

JobSeeker expanded & Rent Assistance boosted 

Some Australians receiving or eligible to receive JobSeeker will soon be able to work up to 14 hours a week without losing their support payments.

The change will impact those on the top tier of the payment. 

Those receiving Rent Assistance support payments will also benefit from the budget, with a promised 10% increase to their payments. 

The 10% bump in Rent Assistance follows the 15% bump offered as part of the 2023 Federal Budget and is expected to come at a total cost around $1.9 billion.


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