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Budget 2023: Tenants, students, job seekers claim wins


Youth, students and renters will receive a boost as part of the government’s $14.6 billion cost-of-living package to be unveiled in the budget Tuesday night.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers will detail additional assistance for tenants in the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program, as well as increases in basic JobSeeker, Austudy and Youth Allowance payments.

The budget, which will be handed over at 7:30 pm, will also detail further cost-of-living policies, which Dr Chalmers says will put direct, downward pressure on the CPI.

The package includes the already announced extension of entitlement to a single parental benefit, allowing single parents to keep that support until their youngest child turns 14, instead of eight.

A $1.5 billion energy aid package will also be unveiled.

The budget will also provide more details about who will receive up to $500 in utility bill subsidies, depending on where they live.

Dr. Chalmers says 5.5 million households and a million businesses will benefit, but has not yet provided details on who would be eligible.

The treasurer has maintained that the cost-of-living support, which he says will target “the most vulnerable” as well as “central Australia”, would not put further pressure on inflation.

In Labour’s second budget since taking office last May, the budget is expected to forecast a better inflation outlook for 2023-24 than Labor predicted in October.

Dr Chalmers is expected to say this is a direct result of government pressure on the cost of living.

“You will see tonight what we propose to do to help the most vulnerable people in our society,” Dr Chalmers said Tuesday morning.

“We recognize that people are struggling, and in a budget that is still under pressure, a budget that still has serious structural problems, we will do what we can to help the most vulnerable in difficult times.

“Our budget has been carefully designed and carefully calibrated to address rather than add cost of living pressures to our economy.

“We are obviously very aware of the inflation challenge in our economy, it remains the main concern we have about the economy, especially going forward.”

The cost-of-living package will be offset somewhat by the more than $17 billion in savings found within budget.

The budget also forecasts a “small” surplus of $4 billion. If successful, it would be the first time in 15 years that the budget is in the black.

Dr. Chalmers said on Tuesday morning he was “cautious” and not celebrating, warning of continued short- and medium-term structural deficits.

The budget is expected to forecast smaller deficits than previously estimated.

The budget is also expected to show that gross debt — nearly $1 trillion — is now expected to peak in the mid-2020s, five years ahead of the October budget forecast.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.