Budget 2018: Good news for middle-class Australians

The new Federal Budget will usher in welcome tax reforms for middle-class Australians, but new migrants will face considerable difficulties.

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Relying on better than expected revenue in a strong economy, the government has cleverly appealed to the hip pocket of Australians in this year’s Federal Budget.

With tax reform as the centrepiece, the government has also out-manoeuvred Bill Shorten’s Labor Party and given it a fighting chance of winning the next election.

The radical tax shake-up will put up to $1,060 a year in cash in the hands of all Australians next year onwards but the icing on the cake is to bring 94% of Australians in the $31,000 to $200,000 tax bracket to 37%.

With a large number of migrant Indian Australians earning in this zone, this certainly will promise more monies in their pockets. That this surgery on the tax reform will only be completed by 2024 gives a carrot to the Australian voters to keep their faith in the Coalition Govt.

New migrants, however, are in for disappointment. Instead of three years, as is the current situation, they will now have to wait for four years to access certain welfare benefits effective July 1, 2018. These benefits include Newstart, carers allowance and paid parental leave, among others.

According to Turnbull, they should work here until they are eligible to reap the benefits of welfare. However, newly arrived migrants who suffer sudden financial loss or end up as victims of family violence, will be granted exemptions.

As per the budget, migrants aged under 18 will have five years, instead of one, to apply for their 510 hours of government-funded English lessons after they arrive in Australia. However, it includes $5 million for community organisations to assist newly-arrived migrants integrate. These changes follow other changes recently introduced to family reunion, according to which, in order for parents to move to Australia to be with their adult children, the younger couple will need to be earning a combined $115,475 a year, instead of $45,185. A single person who wants his parents to move here from overseas, will have to earn $86,606, rather than $45,185.40.

Coming back to the budget, the other advantage is for the older Australians and the incentive to keep them in their own homes rather than move into nursing care. With a $1.6 billion allocated to help in aged care, the budget brings in the retirees and older Australians to benefit from the strong economic tones in Australia. This move will be especially interesting to the early Indian Australians who migrated here in the 70s and 80s.

For a government that’s losing in the polls, this budget is a litmus test to check if they have the ear of the voters. One suspects the rustle of notes in the pockets of the voters will make sure they are hearing this government’s message loud and clear.