The new Albanese Labor government has tabled a revised budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, revising revenue and spending forecasts originally contained in the March budget (from the previous Morrison government), and providing new funding to support several new programs and policies.
In this review of the budget, our team of Centre for Future Work researchers evaluates the budget’s assumptions and policy measures, from the perspective of workers and labour markets. The budget marks a clear change of emphasis from budgets over the previous decade: including explicit recognition of the need to strengthen wage growth, new funding for vital care sectors, and important investments in diversifying Australia’s industrial base.
However, the budget also acknowledges the downside risk of a slowing world economy, which could engulf Australia in another recession — just three years after entering the COVID pandemic. Stronger fiscal measures and income supports will be required if the economy does enter a downturn. And deep problems such as falling real wages, entrenched poverty, and gender inequality will require stronger measures than are included in this first budget. Meanwhile, crucial fiscal decisions (including the regressive Stage 3 tax cuts for high-income Australians) have been deferred for a later date.
In sum, the budget marks a good start on addressing many of Australia’s key economic, social, and environmental challenges. But much more will be needed – and the risking of looming recession will complicate this progress considerably.