What they said: industry, political, union responses to the budget

What they said: industry, political, union responses to the budget

May 11, 2021

Jim Chalmers, Labor shadow treasurer: “It is a shameless political fix, rather than the genuine reform needed to make Australia’s economy stronger, broader and more sustainable,” Dr Chalmers said. “Despite spending almost $100 billion and racking up a record $1 trillion in debt, the Morrison government’s budget reveals real wages will go backwards.”

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers has panned the budget, saying the government cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Jenny Lambert, acting chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
“Incentives to increase workforce participation, promote business investment and boost productivity, crucial pillars of economic success, are the standout wins for business in tonight’s budget,” Ms Lambert said. “We need to boost migration numbers and fill urgent skills’ gaps much sooner than the forecast. We can’t go it alone if we are to remain globally competitive in a post-COVID world.”

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia: “The budget strikes a prudent balance between growth and fiscal discipline by making sensible investments in the levers of growth,” Ms Westacott said. “We are on the right track. The budget builds on the significant gains we’ve made to create jobs, get people and businesses back to work, rebuild confidence and fire up economic growth.”

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the budget laid a strong foundation for economic recovery.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

But Ms Westacott also sounded a note of caution: “There’s no point winning the battle against the virus if we lose out to other countries in the post-pandemic race for investment, high-skilled jobs and industries, and higher living standards.”

Adam Bandt, Greens leader: ”Tonight’s budget is a pre-election sweetener that fails to make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, while growing inequality and fast-tracking climate collapse,” Mr Bandt said. “The economic forecasts are built on sand and on an assumption our failed quarantine and vaccine program will miraculously start to work and that the rest of world overcomes the pandemic.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt is angry the budget contains tax cuts for wealthier Australians.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Ian Yates, chief executive of the Council on the Ageing: ”This is a serious and meaningful response to the ‘neglect’ identified by the Aged Care Royal Commission and the need to transform the industry,” said Mr Yates.

Michele O’Neil, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions: ”This budget contains $17.9 billion in tax write-offs for big business, and only $1.1 billion for women’s safety over the next four years. The Morrison government has missed the opportunity to make the big structural changes needed by Australian women. The billions provided to business in this budget are given without strings attached and risk again ending up in the pockets of shareholders and CEOs.”

ACTU president Michele O’Neil said the budget gave money to big businesses which could choose to keep it for themselves and their shareholders.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Cassandra Goldie, Australian Council of Social Service chief executive: ”This budget provides much needed funding to finally start fixing some of the gaping holes in our aged care, childcare, mental health, and domestic violence services,” Dr Goldie said. But, she said, “we are worried about the government clawing back hundreds of millions of dollars out of social security and employment services, when there is a need to be increasing this funding”.

Gerard Hayes, national president of the Health Services Union:This [budget] barely makes up for the $10 billion worth of cuts that have been inflicted over the last eight years [to aged care],” Mr Hayes said. “For carers, therapists and support workers there is no commitment to permanent, better paid jobs.”

Ratings’ agency S&P Global: “The negative outlook on Australia reflects a substantial deterioration of fiscal headroom at the ‘AAA’ rating level and our view that risks remain tilted toward the downside,” it said in a statement. “The fiscal recovery outlined in Australia’s budget is occurring as we expected, but downside risks remain, underpinning our negative outlook on Australia.”

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