After a tumultuous 2018 for the federal Parliament, the early months of 2019 are likely to move into hyperdrive as the major parties begin positioning themselves for the upcoming election, writes Joe Zabar. Source: Eureka Street.
Each of the major parties has access to a war chest to fund their many promises. Labor’s funding will come primarily from proposed tax changes. The Coalition is relying on additional tax receipts from a bumper year of company profits. Both will make big spending promises while pledging to bring the budget back to surplus.
The cooling of the housing market in Sydney and Melbourne will make Labor’s capital gains and negative gearing policy changes tricky to implement. Talk of a US recession and some uncertainty around the Chinese economy may affect the Government’s expected tax receipts beyond 2019, making the Coalition’s likely tax cuts and budget surplus harder to deliver.
Many Australian families remain anxious about cost-of-living pressures, especially those in Sydney and Melbourne who are also facing a slide in the value of their homes. Wages growth remains relatively low, which is exacerbating a sense of financial unease for many Australian families. For those families on welfare or with single incomes, the outlook for 2019 may be even bleaker.
The problem for many families is that they have no capacity to increase their earnings. We have almost 1.8 million Australians without work or looking for more work. Despite strong profits, businesses are yet to share the spoils of the recent gains with their employees.
Disturbingly, the Fair Work Commission, our independent industrial relations body, accepts that its 2018 National Minimum Wage (NMW) decision will leave some workers in poverty.
While the commission concedes that the minimum wage is not a living wage for workers with families, they are neither willing nor able to address the financial realities of those sole parents and single-earner couples with children who are struggling to meet the increasing costs of living.
The hip pocket nerve is twitching, sending signals to both the major parties that families need a break from the relentless imposition of fees and charges from financial, health, insurance, phone and energy companies.
Both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will be carefully weighing up options in the hope of wooing voters their way.
– Joe Zabar is the deputy chief executive of Catholic Social Services Australia.
Election sweeteners a family affair (Eureka Street)