Morrison insists Budget on path to surplus, education cuts expected

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has highlighted his own grandparents’ struggle of buying a home to show the pressure on the Sydney housing market has been around for generations.


“All they ever knew on my father’s side was renting a house in Sydney, could never buy a house,” Mr Morrison said.

“They grew up [and] were around in the 40s, 50s and 30s in Australia. So it has been a long-term issue in Sydney.”

It’s expected housing affordability will be a focus of Mr Morrison’s second Budget, however, he insists the government will be addressing the whole spectrum of housing affordability, including the rental market, as well as social housing.

Morrison: We must make the right choices

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“If you don’t have a roof over your head this you can rely on, every single other problem you have in life gets harder,” he said.

The Treasurer said the Budget will be about “making the right choices” to support the Australian economy.

“By ensuring we grow our economy, we are able to guarantee the services that Australians are relying on,” he said.

Mr Morrison reiterated his concerns about slow wages growth, but insisted higher pay rates can only be delivered if the economy grows and all businesses get a tax cut.

The government plans to introduce the second half of its business tax package when Parliament resumes next week.

“You can’t get a pay rise in a business that’s going backwards and it isn’t making a profit,” Treasurer Morrison said.

Morrison’s ‘good, bad’ debt claim under fire 

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The university sector is expected to have to tighten their belts as funding outpaces the cost of educating students.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham is expected to outline a Budget package that includes funding cuts and hikes in student fees later on Monday.


Mr Morrison was vague on the Budget outlook after a prominent economist predicted the budget will be in a worse position than forecast in December, raising concerns the government won’t be able to achieve a promised 2021 surplus.

“Those numbers will be updated on Tuesday week,” he said.

SBS chart showing Treasury’s deficit projections compared with Deloitte’s.SBS / James Elton-Pym

A leading Australian economist has warned a $100 billion boost to national income this year will not be enough to stop a worsening in the Budget figures next week.

The income surge is a product of a stronger Chinese economy and two Reserve Bank interest rate cuts last year, according to Deloitte economist Chris Richardson.

Mr Richardson said the boost would likely improve next year’s forecast, but said he still predicted a worsening in the projected deficit over the following two years due to Treasury overestimating tax collection. 

“Treasury is still of the view, and it may be right, that the tax system will get a bunch healthier in the next few years,” he said.

“In the last seven years, total revenue went up by an average of $17 billion a year. In the next three years, Treasury says it’ll jump to $30 billion a year – not because of a decision to tax more but because of underlying repair in the tax system.”

The Treasurer hinted to reporters the government may dump so-called “zombie” savings measures from the budget papers.

“It is important the Budget is a credible document, a practical document… that can be put forward with confidence to the Australian Parliament for support,” he said.

As of March 31 there were $12.7 billion in unlegislated Budget savings slated for the next four years, some of which have been blocked by Parliament since the Coalition’s May 2014 Budget.

Mr Richardson warned Australia’s pursuit of “bad” spending will catch up with it.

“We have a bunch of bad spending now well and truly cemented in place,” he said.

“If we are really not going to do something about spending we are going to have a look at taxing.”


Sex Discrimination Commissioner hits back over ‘draconian’ gender measures report

The report suggested that government contractors would be obliged to see that at least 40 per cent of the workforce was female, however Ms Jenkins said the quota was one way in which the government could lead by example on redressing gender imbalances in workplaces around the country.


“We did not recommend that quotas be put in place, rather we recommended that the Commonwealth Government should become a model industry in improving the participation of women in the workforce,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“This is not a mandatory quota. Organisations would not need to meet this gender balance target to secure government contracts.”

Earlier on Monday, former prime minister Tony Abbott labelled the move “politically correct rubbish” and told Ms Jenkins “pull your head in” on 2GB.

Mr Abbott said the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 40:40:20 target was “anti-men”.

“We absolutely have to give women a fair go but some of this stuff sounds like it’s just anti-men,” he told Ray Hadley.

Earlier this year, the AHRC made a submission to a Senate Inquiry to consider the issue of gender imbalance in the workforce, proposing that government organisations make a more concerted effort to hire women, with the ultimate goal of reaching a 40:40:20 balance, with the remaining 20 per cent to allow for flexibility.

Ms Jenkins said taking steps such as seeing recruitment short lists during the hiring process could help improve hiring practices in typically male-dominated industries, such as construction and IT.

“The recommendation simply asks for ‘demonstrated efforts’ to improve gender balance,” she said.

“Increasing diversity in organisations has proven benefits. By improving women’s participation in male-dominated industries we can broaden the talent pool within these industries, address skills shortages and improve the performance of organisations. Similar benefits would flow to female-dominated work forces.”

Women’s issues advocate and author Catherine Fox said that quotas did not compromise employers’ ability to scope the best talent.

My statement setting the record straight on today’s media reports on gender balance in the workforce: 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/Cl7LukzCts

— Kate Jenkins (@Kate_Jenkins_) May 1, 2017

“I hate the word ‘merit’ in some ways because I think it’s overused and it’s misued, but I think, actually, when it comes down to it, having targets, having those kinds of goals that we put in place is really about finding the best people to do the jobs that we have, and not narrowing our options, which I think is the problem that we have at the moment,” she said.

Mr Abbott said if the government wanted to do the right thing by women the best thing it could do was to get good conservative women into the parliament.

“That’s one of the challenges which faces my party right now,” he said.

Mr Abbott, who also served as the Minister for Women during his tenure as prime minister until 2015, was widely condemned for appointing just a single woman – Julie Bishop – to federal cabinet in 2013.

“We as a society, we felt very uncomfortable with that, that didn’t reflect what we thought should be a cabinet for a federal government,” Ms Fox said.

“He then, subsequently, sometime on after he lost the leadership, he regretted that, he admitted that that was probably a mistake.

“I think this is not a person that we turn to for the best judgement on some of these issues,” she said.

CEO of the International Women’s Development Agency Jo Hayter said that implementing gender quotas was about democracy, not political correctness.

“Quotas continue to be the only accountability tool that lead to more diverse participation. It is this diverse participation that we need to ensure better public policy outcomes for all,” Ms Hayter said.

“Australia signed on to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015 – Tony Abbott was Prime Minister of Australia throughout the entire negotiation process.

“Does today’s statement mean he never had any intention of respecting the Global Goals? Or has he simply forgotten what he signed our nation up for?”

-With AAP

AUSPOL: Morrison says government must make the right choices on budget

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Easy retirement floating further away for many

Five years into his retirement, things were looking pretty sunny for a man named Les as he enjoyed a game of golf with a friend in Sydney.


“Fantastic. I don’t know how I had time to go to work basically. I always have plenty of things to do, and, yeah … (I) love it.”

But that is a reality out of reach for many other Australians.

A policy paper commissioned by the super fund REST shows the cost of supporting family members is forcing many working Australians to either delay retirement or retire in debt.

REST chief executive Damian Hill says those feeling the biggest burden are the so-called “sandwich generation.”

“And these are people aged 50 to 65, and not only are they continuing to support their adult children they will never get off their hands, they’re also having to start supporting their parents, their retired parents, who have not saved enough in retirement.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested last year wealthy parents could, as he put it, “shell out” to help their kids enter the property market.

But the survey shows the expectation on parents to help out their adult children may be part of the problem.

The study shows, among Australians over age 50 still in work, as many as one in five plans to retire with a mortgage.

It shows more than half have debts, including credit cards, still owing.

On their lunchbreaks in Sydney, these office workers offered a mix of approaches to planning retirement.

(First:) “Yeah, it’s something I do think about, but not planning to save yet for that. Still working on saving for a house.”

(Second:) “Yeah, I do contribute extra into my superannuation. So, yeah, I do think about the future.”

(Third:) “It’s something that concerns me, but I’ve done nothing about it. I tend to leave everything to the last minute. You know that saying, ‘If it wasn’t for the last moment, nothing would get done.’ So we’ll see about it in maybe 20 years’ time.”

But financial adviser Colin Lewis of Perpetual Private says it is never too early to start planning for retirement.”

“Just that little bit each year, it will help. The power of compound interest says it all, basically. The sooner you start, the more you’ll have at the end of the day.”

What’s in the new university funding plan


* 2.


5 per cent efficiency dividend in 2018 and 2019 – on payments for teaching only.

* No cuts to research or other taxpayer contributions.

* Efficiency dividend will cut about $2.8 billion – less than four per cent of university revenues from taxpayers and student fees.

* Phased increases in course fees, starting with 1.8 per cent in 2018 up to 7.5 per cent in 2021.

* Student proportion of fees increases from 42 per cent to 46 per cent on average.

* Increase over four years will range between $2000 and $3600.

* Maximum a student will pay over four-year degree is $50,000.

* Most expensive course – six-year medical degree – will cost at most $75,000 (taxpayers will contribute $137,300).

* Increase to funding for dentistry and veterinary courses in recognition of high costs of clinical training (brought into line with medicine courses).

* Drop repayment threshold for HECS-HELP loans to $42,000 from July 2018 (now about $55,000).

* Index minimum repayment threshold for loans to inflation rather than average weekly earnings.

* 7.5 per cent of university funding will be linked to performance measures – initially transparency of enrolment process from 2018, then student retention and success from 2019.

* If funding is withheld from a university that doesn’t meet these measures, it will go to other institutions not back into the budget.

* $3 million extra funding to quality watchdog TEQSA

* $15 million for eight regional study hubs to offer students technology and support to study in their home town. Starting with Geraldton, Cooma and the Pilbara.

* Switch funding for disadvantaged students into a loading instead of a separate program.

* $37 million a year from January 2019 for postgraduate scholarships that students can use at institutions of their choice.

Grandmother ‘devastated’ by IS video

The grandmother of a young boy shown in an Islamic State propaganda video says she is devastated to see him being used as a “media tool” and insists he won’t be lost forever.


Karen Nettleton has also revealed she recently spoke with the six-year-old, who was shown in footage being grilled by her son-in-law, Khaled Sharrouf, about how to kill a non-Muslim and an Australian.

“He still has got his cute little voice and little lisp,” Mrs Nettleton told the ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday.

“(He said), ‘I love you, Nanna. I miss you, Nanna’.”

Sharrouf left Australia for the Middle East in 2013 and became an Islamic State fighter.

He had only been out of jail for a year after serving four years for plotting a high-level terrorist attack on Australian soil.

Later in 2013 his wife Tara Nettleton, who has since died, took the couple’s five children to live with their father in an IS stronghold in Syria.

Another of Sharrouf’s sons – then aged seven – has also been shown in a photograph holding the severed head of a slain soldier.

Mrs Nettleton said it pained her to see her youngest grandson in the video.

“I know what he’s like,” she said.

“He’s just been used, I think, as some sort of media tool.”

She said she had no idea where the group was and could not understand how the boy’s father could allow him to be exploited.

Recalling rocking the child to sleep, singing him songs and taking him swimming, she also wondered whether he and his siblings will want to come home after being brainwashed.

But she still holds hope they won’t be gone forever.

“They’re not lost, they’re not gone,” she said.

“They’re just kids. With the right help, they’ll be OK.”

The video is proof Sharrouf is alive and is being investigated by the NSW Joint Counter Terrorist Team.

Mrs Nettleton made a failed attempt to get her grandchildren out of the region last year and has previously appealed to the government to help them.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan believes the children of terrorists taken to war zones and exposed to unspeakable horrors deserve help.

“A young child who has been taken to a conflict zone is as much a victim of that parent’s bad behaviour,” he told News Corp Australia.

“But we need to make sure where they have been exposed to these sorts of horrible things, in the midst of the civil war, that they get some support from the Australian government.”