Scott Morrison defends his $161billion Budget debt as he faces Karl Stefanovic on Today Show

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The Australian prime minister fired up on Wednesday morning after Labor leader Anthony Albanese accused him of having 'no real plan beyond getting through the next election'.

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How the Budget contains PM's secret 'war chest' - as a cranky Scott Morrison denies he's sent Australia's national debt soaring to $161 billion to win an election this year

  • Prime minister has defended Australia's $161billion debt after Tuesday's budget 
  • Mr Morrison also hit back at the idea the budget was designed to win over voters
  • 'The only opponent I have is the pandemic,' Mr Morrison said on Wednesday 
  • Labor leader said the big-spend budget 'had no plan beyond the next election'

Tuesday night's Budget includes a $9billion war chest to be used for yet-unannounced purposes - sparking speculation Scott Morrison will call an early election by the end of the year.

The fine print in the budget allows the government to set aside nearly $10billion for unspecified projects which have already been approved by the federal cabinet. 

But the Australian prime minister denied that allocation in the Budget has anything to do with being re-elected on Wednesday morning.

The Australian prime minister fired up after Labor leader Anthony Albanese accused him of having 'no real plan beyond getting through the next election'. 

Among the costly Budget measures is the extension of the low and middle income offset to 10 million Australians at a cost of $7.8billion.

Mr Morrison defiantly hit back at Today show host Karl Stefanovic after he suggested the Liberal Party's big-spend budget was designed to win over voters.  

Mr Morrison addresses a morning television interview in the Prime Minister's Courtyard at Parliament House on Wednesday. He has denied the government's big-budget spending announced on Tuesday has anything to do with being re-elected

Mr Morrison addresses a morning television interview in the Prime Minister's Courtyard at Parliament House on Wednesday. He has denied the government's big-budget spending announced on Tuesday has anything to do with being re-elected

'You do care about being re-elected again,' Stefanovic said. 

'The only opponent I have right now is the pandemic,' Morrison responded, adding he 'couldn't care less about the politics'. 

'That's the opponent I'm focused on. That is the fight Australia is in and as Australia's prime minister that is the fight I'm focused on.'

Mr Albanese also accused the government of leaving $3.8billion in the budget for a Liberal campaign 'slush fund' ahead of the expected federal election next year.  

Government officials have fenced off $3.8billion alone for election commitments. 

The prime minister hit back by saying the money left over from the budget would be used to fund the country's ongoing battle against Covid-19 - not to help him win the next election. 

'What we've done is kept things in reserve over the course of the balance of this year to keep fighting this pandemic,' Mr Morrison responded.  

'Australians like me, we're focused on ensuring we come through this. Nothing else matters.'

'[The pandemic] is the opponent I'm focused on. That is the fight Australia is in and as Australia's prime minister that is the fight I'm focused on,' Mr Morrison said in a fiery defence of the Budget announcement

'[The pandemic] is the opponent I'm focused on. That is the fight Australia is in and as Australia's prime minister that is the fight I'm focused on,' Mr Morrison said in a fiery defence of the Budget announcement

Sydneysiders head to work ahead ahead of the Federal Budget on May 11. The low and middle income offset has been extended to 10 million Australians at a cost of $7.8billion

Sydneysiders head to work ahead ahead of the Federal Budget on May 11. The low and middle income offset has been extended to 10 million Australians at a cost of $7.8billion

Construction site workers in Sydney.  Mr Morrison said his focus was on helping Australians and he 'couldn't care less about the politics'

Construction site workers in Sydney.  Mr Morrison said his focus was on helping Australians and he 'couldn't care less about the politics'

HOW MUCH TAX RELIEF YOU WILL GET OVER THE FOUR YEARS FROM 2018-22 
Income Tax saving 
$40,000 $3,080
$60,000 $6,480 
$80,000 $6,480 
$90,000 $7,020 
$100,000 $6,720 
$120,000 $6,120 
$140,000 $5,400 
$160,000 $5,400 
$180,000 $5,400 
$200,000 $5,400 

Mr Albanese also hit out at the revelation international travel will not restart until mid-2022 - saying it was the Liberal government's fault the borders could not reopen sooner. 

'They are closing our border until mid-next year because they haven't got their act together on the two essential jobs they had this year to get right - the vaccination roll-out and quarantine,' he said.

The treasurer on Wednesday said the government's 'assumption' international travel would restart again in mid-2022 was based on Australia successfully containing localised outbreaks. 

'We have made an assumption, based on the best medical advice, that we can contain those outbreaks and that we won't see another repeat of the Victorian-like lockdown,' he said.  

What the Budget means for you:

If you earn less than $450 a month 

The requirement that workers have to earn $450 a month with a single employer before they get super payments will be scrapped.

This policy will mostly benefit women, with twice as many women than men earning less than $450 a month.

If you're unemployed 

Almost two million unemployed Australians will enjoy an extra $50 per fortnight as part of a $9.5billion boost to welfare payments revealed in the 2021 Federal Budget.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also announced the income-free area will be increased to $150 per fortnight for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance.

This means recipients can have income up to $150 per fortnight before their payments will be decreased.

However to access the bonus, job seekers will be forced to apply for 20 jobs per month, up from the current 15. The new requirements will come into effect from July.

Job seekers will be forced in online employment services to complete their career profile in the JobActive system.

Mr Frydenberg said $9.5billion would be set aside over the next five years to support Australians eligible for working-age payments, which includes JobSeeker.

About 1.9 million Australians who are on working-age payments will benefit from the $50 fortnightly cash boost.

It will apply to those on the Youth Allowance, Austudy, Parenting Payment, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance, Special Benefit and Farm Household Allowance.

If you're a small business owner

Pictured: Small business owner Lincoln Testa in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. He said: ‘As for the budget, in this country there is no incentive to acquire wealth. We need some tax relief there so we can spend money, and each time we spend money it gets taxed. Work out a way to spend a dollar in Australia and keep turning it over in Australia.’

Pictured: Small business owner Lincoln Testa in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. He said: 'As for the budget, in this country there is no incentive to acquire wealth. We need some tax relief there so we can spend money, and each time we spend money it gets taxed. Work out a way to spend a dollar in Australia and keep turning it over in Australia.'

In a huge win for businesses, the government will extend for another year the instant asset write-off which allows companies to write-off the full value of any asset they buy.

It means tradies can buy new utes and farmers can buy new tractors and deduct the full cost from their profits.

The loss carry-back scheme will also be extended until June 2023, allowing companies to offset previously taxed profits as far back as the 2018-19 income year.

Mr Frydenberg will also streamline Australia's insolvency laws further for small and large businesses.

The government will increase the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $4,000.

This will help prevent distressed but viable companies from being pushed into liquidation over small debts.

The government will consult on how trusts are treated under insolvency laws, and whether the so-called insolvent trading safe-harbour provisions that were introduced in 2017 remain fit for purpose.

It is also considering the introduction of a moratorium on creditor enforcement while insolvency schemes are being negotiated.

This comes on top of the changes that came into force from January 1 that simplified the restructuring and liquidation process for small firms, providing directors greater control to either restructure or wind down their operations.

The government will allow small businesses to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to pause or modify Australian Taxation Office debt recovery actions where the debt is being disputed in the AAT.

Under existing rules, small businesses are only able to pause or modify tax office debt recovery actions through the court system, which can be costly and time consuming.

Applying to the AAT instead of the courts will save small businesses at least several thousands of dollars in court and legal fees and as much as 60 days of waiting for a decision.

If you're a school leaver

More free TAFE courses will be provided. Pictured: A tradie in Sydney

More free TAFE courses will be provided. Pictured: A tradie in Sydney

The JobTrainer program providing free short courses for thousands of young Aussies will be extended to provide another 163,000 training places.

The policy, announced last year, saw the federal government provide $500million for free vocational courses, with the funding matched by state and territory governments.

The scheme means that a certificate in business administration or a certificate in customer engagement which normally cost $1,320 will be free.

To qualify, you must be aged 17 to 24, unemployed or expect to become unemployed.

Mr Frydenberg revealed the policy has subsidised tuition fees for 100,000 places since September.

The courses are designed to prepare workers for jobs in expanding sectors including healthcare, social care, transport, postal services and warehousing, manufacturing and retail.

The government has also removed the 100,000-person cap on the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements scheme after the places filled up in just five months.

The policy was due to stop on September 30, 2021 but any apprentice hired before then will have half their wages paid by the government for a whole year from the day they start.

Mr Morrison expects the extension will help another 70,000 apprentices get jobs at a cost of $1.2billion to taxpayers.

If you want to travel 

Australia's borders to the outside world will remain virtually shut through to mid-2022 according to federal budget forecasts released on Tuesday evening

Australia's borders to the outside world will remain virtually shut through to mid-2022 according to federal budget forecasts released on Tuesday evening

Australians won't be travelling overseas again until at least the middle of 2022 the government predicts - in a major shift on its previous claim that the border could reopen by October this year.

Government forecasts released in federal budget documents on Tuesday say that inbound and outbound international travel into Australia 'will remain low through to mid-2022.'

But officials assume there will then be a 'gradual' return to normal travel after that point.

'Safe travel zones' will be established, as Australia has done with the travel bubble.

Last year the Government predicted international borders would be open in October 2021 after the whole adult population has been offered a vaccination.

However, this timeline has now been pushed back as Australia's vaccination rollout falls behind due to supply shortages and vaccine hesitancy.

If you're a working parent

The government will spend $1.7billion on changes to the childcare system.

The cost of childcare for a second and subsequent child will be subsidised by up to 95 per cent, up from the current 85 per cent maximum.

About 250,000 families are expected to save $2,260 a year on childcare fees.

Families who earn a combined $110,000 and have two kids in childcare four days a week will save $95.39 a week. 

If you drink and smoke  

Australia's smokers and drinkers have been spared a tax hike on Budget night for the first time in almost a decade despite a string of forecast deficits.

Josh Frydenberg is the first Treasurer since 2012 to have avoided raising excise duty - colloquially known as sin taxes - for some easy revenue.

Since 2013, both sides of politics had annually increased excise duty on tobacco and alcohol.

If you earn less than $450 a month 

The government will extend the low and middle-income tax offset (LMITO), which is worth up to $1,080 and benefits people with a taxable income up to $126,000. Pictured: A worker in Sydney

The government will extend the low and middle-income tax offset (LMITO), which is worth up to $1,080 and benefits people with a taxable income up to $126,000. Pictured: A worker in Sydney

The requirement that workers have to earn $450 a month with a single employer before they get super payments will be scrapped.

This policy will mostly benefit women, with twice as many women than men earning less than $450 a month.

Colonial First State, a retail super fund, calculated that under super existing rules, a 30-year-old woman with $50,000 in retirement savings would only have $57,651 by the time they turned 40.

If you're a working parent 

The government will spend $1.7billion on changes to the childcare system.

The cost of childcare for a second and subsequent child will be subsidised by up to 95 per cent, up from the current 85 per cent maximum.  

About 250,000 families are expected to save $2,260 a year on childcare fees. 

Families who earn a combined $110,000 and have two kids in childcare four days a week will save $95.39 a week.

If you earn an average wage 

Mr Frydenberg will extend the low and middle-income tax offset (LMITO), which is worth up to $1,080 and benefits people with a taxable income up to $126,000.

The bonus, which was available for the 2018–19, 2019–20 and 2020–21 income years, had been scheduled to run out in June.

However Mr Frydenberg will extend it for another year at a cost of about $7billion.

If you want to buy a house

Single parents who have been priced out Australia's soaring property market are set to be the big winners from the budget, with a new scheme allowing them to purchase a home with a two per cent deposit. 

Under the new plan starting in July, a single parent can buy a $500,000 home with deposit of just $10,000.

The scheme will help 10,000 single parents buy a home over the next four years - but competition will be high because 125,000 people will be eligible, with 80 per cent of them women.

The entry of that many people into the housing market is also set to push house prices even higher. 

If you work in kids' TV  

The foundation which helped fund Bluey the cartoon dog and hit 90s show Round The Twist was the recipient of $11million in Federal Budget 2022

The foundation which helped fund Bluey the cartoon dog and hit 90s show Round The Twist was the recipient of $11million in Federal Budget 2022

Bluey - the Brisbane-based cartoon dog beloved by children and parents alike - could benefit from an $11million handout announced by Arts Minister Paul Fletcher.

The government has announced it will supply those funds to the Australian Children's Television Foundation.

The foundation played a 'pivotal' role in getting the popular kids TV show off the ground.

It was also responsible for bringing about classic programs such as '90s show Round The Twist and Dance Academy.

If you're a woman 

The budget will include a $353.9 million health package for women spread over four years.

The package includes funding for cervical and breast cancer, endometriosis and reproductive health.

Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said the government was committed to improving health services around Australia for all women and girls, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Key measures include $100.4million for improvements to cervical and breast cancer screening programs and $95.9 million for new tests on the MBS for pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) of embryos for specific genetic or chromosomal abnormalities prior to implantation and pregnancy.

If you're a tradie

The budget will contain a series of building projects to stimulate jobs and build up the nation's infrastructure.  

Major road upgrades, a new freight terminal and the rebuild of a key regional airport will form part of a huge infrastructure program announced in Tuesday's federal budget.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will announce projects worth $110 billion to generate thousands of jobs over the next ten years as the nation recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some key projects include upgrades to the Great Western Highway in NSW and Queensland's Bruce Highway, as well as a new freight train terminal in Melbourne.

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  • Scott Morrison defends his $161billion Budget debt as he faces Karl Stefanovic on Today Show photo


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