29 May 2024


In a month's time, 13½ million Australians will be paying less tax in every pay packet because of this Albanese government. In Macquarie that means 67,000 people will see more money in their pocket when they get their pay packet. For a worker on the average wage of $73,000, that's a tax cut of $1,500 per year. For a family on the average household income of $130,000, it's a tax cut of $2,600. This is money that will be directly in people's pockets.

Eighty-four per cent of taxpayers and 90 per cent of women will be getting a bigger tax cut because of the changes that are in the legislation in this budget, including, of course, nearly three million Australians who were going to miss out completely on getting any sort of cut under the previous tax regime—those who were on less than $45,000. They weren't going to get a single cent under the Liberals. But now they will, like everybody else, be better off because they will have a cut to the tax that they pay.

The tax cuts are better for women, they're better for part-time workers, they're better for young people and they're better, also, for businesses and for workforce participation. In a month, along with that tax cut for every single taxpayer, there's going to be energy price relief for every single household, with $300 off the power bill for every home in Australia, and money to support small businesses as well with their power costs so that their bill is reduced. The way we're doing this means that inflation will also be cut at the same time as we're helping people. We know that this has very wide economic benefits as a consequence.

When it comes to homes, there's also $32 billion that we're investing in more social housing, more public housing, more affordable housing and more construction. There are incentives for people to build more homes so that they can be rented. There's funding for the urgent works that are required by state governments so that you can do residential construction. These are things that are encapsulated in this budget, which is a commitment to tackling the issues of the cost of living, housing and many others.

I'm going to break down some of the initiatives in our budget. I'm going to start by talking about women and how our budget helps women. Let's talk about women's safety. This budget includes key financial commitments that go alongside the package of work that we're doing to ensure that women and their children are able to be safer. There's nearly $1 billion over five years for the permanent Leaving Violence Program to help women who need financial support to escape. There's around $44 million to provide an immediate funding boost to the legal assistance sector. That includes the community legal centres in my electorate who provide extraordinary support for women. I know how stretched they are, and we know that this is just the start of getting the support that's needed into that sector. This budget provides a boost until the national partnership is renegotiated and comes into effect from 1 July 2025.

There's also nearly $40 million to eradicate gender based violence from universities. That sits alongside a whole range of women's safety initiatives. For instance, in the meantime, as a whole lot of work is being done, Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety is being funded to further build the evidence base on pathways into and out of the perpetration of family, domestic and sexual violence. That is taking place at the same time as our rapid review of targeted prevention approaches to violence against women. All of these are being funded in this budget. These investments build on the $2.3 billion already in place to support women's safety and deliver the national plan. It's a huge important step for women's and children's safety.

The budget also directs $1 billion towards social housing for women, children and young people fleeing violence, which goes to the next tranche of measures that are important for women's security—that is, investment in women's economic equality and financial independence. This budget includes initiatives in that area. For a start, more than $1 billion over four years has been set aside to pay superannuation on government funded paid parental leave for parents of babies born or adopted from 1 July next year. That means women won't go backwards with their superannuation. It's a huge long-wanted step, and of course only a Labor government will deliver it. There's also nearly $2 billion over five years for social housing, because we recognise that many women are in social housing or are supported in their housing. I include this one here, in terms of security, because housing security is at the core of being safe.

There's been around a 40 per cent increase in the maximum rates of government rent assistance since we came to government. About half the people who benefit from that are single parents, and the vast majority of those are women. So that's tangible support for women.

We're also providing financial support to the women who are students who do mandatory nursing, midwifery,
social work or teaching placements. They'll be supported. This budget allocates the funds to ensure that they can be supported while they're doing their mandatory prac teaching. They will be able to survive and finish their course thanks to this support.

We've set aside funding in anticipation of the final decision of the Fair Work Commission on wages for aged-care workers—again, a highly feminised industry. That builds on the $11 billion increase that has already been provided for the wage increases that have been granted. We have also set aside funding for the wage increase for early childhood education and care workers once the details are finalised by the Fair Work Commission. Again, it is a highly feminised industry, and these things give women greater financial security.

We're also creating more training and job opportunities for women, including, for instance, $55 million over the next four years for a Building Women's Careers Program, to drive industry change and boost the number of women in high-paying careers in the construction, clean energy, tech and advanced manufacturing workforce. We want to see women's participation increase, and everything we've done in government, including in this budget, speaks to that.

Women's health is absolutely crucial to their engagement in the workforce and their ability to be there for their families and to participate in our society. There is a dedicated $56.1 million women's health package in this budget. Let's look at some of the things that are there. A huge amount of it—nearly $50 million—is to introduce longer consultation items for patients with complex gynaecological conditions such as suspected endometriosis and PCOS but also many other conditions. That means that GPs will be funded to spend more time with women.

There's $3½ million over four years to expand indemnity insurance for privately practising midwives. I know in my community, particularly in the Blue Mountains, this will be a much welcomed investment. There's funding to support women and their families who've suffered miscarriage and pregnancy loss. There's funding for participating maternity services and First Nations communities to help prevent pre-term and early-term birth. There's funding to collect better data on miscarriages and on sexual and reproductive health—all things that were largely ignored by the previous government.

There's also around $5 million to support the placement costs for health professionals to undertake training to support access to long-acting reversible contraceptives—another really significant women's health initiative. And there's $1 million to develop an interactive contraception decision tree to help women and their health professionals work through their best options. There will be $12 million for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to provide free period products. And $6 million for four years of outreach health care in crisis accommodation to support women and children who are experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence.

And I have to put this one in: $1.2 million to support placements for health professionals to enrol in the professional development accredited course 'Managing menopause'. All these are things that have been previously ignored but make a profound difference to women. They come on top of initiatives we've introduced already, things like the endometriosis clinic that is available and close to my community in Rouse Hill. Women are winners in this budget. It's a budget for everybody and, for the first time in many years, I can see that, more than anybody, women are the winners here.

Young people have also been placed at the centre of our decision-making. When I say 'decision-making', when we make decisions about what the priorities are and where the funding goes, it is so crucial to think about those who are coming up behind us, not just those in my position and of my generation. Every young person will get a tax cut. Every household that a young person is living in, whether they're renting on their own or whether they're in the very early stages of owning their own home, they will receive support and relief from their energy bill.

I just want to talk about those numbers. Around 1½ million taxpayers are aged 18 to 24. They're going to receive, on average, $1,000 from their tax bill. Around 1.6 million are in the 25 to 29 age bracket. They'll receive, on average, around $1,573 from their tax bill. We also know that for young people carrying a HECS debt or a HELP debt, it is another financial thing that weighs them down—I certainly see it with my own children who, quite frankly, are just outside that youth category now that they've hit their 30s. However, the relief in the HELP system to make it fairer for people carrying a student debt is immeasurable. We know that the wiping of around $3 billion off that HELP debt will help more than three million Australians. In Macquarie, around 16,225 people will benefit from the lightening of that HELP debt load. It is also young people who will benefit from the prac payments. It supports their teaching, nursing, social work, university placements. Around 73,000 eligible students are going to benefit across the board. For the young people I speak to, it's a huge relief to know that someone is listening to the challenges that they face.

For other young people, the key to getting into university is going to be the $350 million that is being delivered for the fee-free uni-ready courses, to prepare them for university and open up that pathway. Others will benefit from the New Energy Apprenticeships Program so that more apprentices can receive up to $10,000 to be in those apprenticeships of the future, which we need to be working on now. In parts of the Hawkesbury, where there's a very high desire to go to TAFE, lots of families will look at that and say: 'Great. Here's a licence to go into that part of the TAFE system.' The expansion of that program, which comes into effect in just a couple of days time, means more clean energy apprentices can be in training to support that transition to net zero. Right now, there are around 2,085 apprentices in Macquarie. I look forward to that number rising. Training more tradies and construction workers to build more homes is going to benefit not just the workers who are working there but also the generation that really needs to see us boosting the housing supply. Our $32 billion of investment in housing is going to see them be the winners. There's funding for live music and for the arts—all of those things. Our investment in mental health will make things better for our young people.