Budget 2021 updates: billions for aged care and mental health as treasurer prepares to deliver federal budget – Australian politics live | Australia news


Happy budget day my darlings!

It’s Christmas for nerds, and luckily I’m a big nerd as well, and I’m very excited to jump into it with you.

Matilda Boseley here, minding the politics blog while Amy Reminkis prepares to be locked away in the budget room today.

Amy and the rest of the politics team will bring you all the ins and outs of the budget as soon as they are released (around 7pm), but until then I’ll bring you all the updates here.

Now to the big announcements this morning:

First up, the federal government is expected to pour billions of dollars into aged care and mental health after years of sector leaders begging for a funding boost.

Mental health advocates have long implored the federal government to dramatically increase funding.

But maybe don’t get too excited – experts have warned the packages are unlikely to make up for years of funding shortfalls.

Now it looks like mental health funding will be pitched as a productivity measure by the government – because you know, happy and healthy people work better as cogs in the capitalist machine.

But there is a very different motivation behind the aged care boost, rumoured to be almost $18bn over four years.

Health minister Greg Hunt has said the budget would draw a fundamental line in the sand after a damning royal commission report was released earlier in the year, calling for radical changes across the troubled system.

The big next budget headline in the papers this morning is for young jobseekers – with the government sending a clear message that “if you can’t earn, learn”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to announce a $1bn extension of the jobtrainer program, which offers free or low-fee courses to young and unemployed people.

But there is a catch, according to the Sydney Morning Herald: the budget could also dictate that some younger Australians must take advantage of these training programs or potentially lose income supports such as Youth Allowance.

(This comes as the government prepares to dump a hiring credit for people under 35 which supported just 1,100 of the 450,000 jobs it was supposed to.)

According to a report in the Australian, this is all expected to culminate in a post-Covid jobs boom that could reduce the predicted budget deficits by $53bn this year.

They are reporting that the soon-to-be-announced budget deficit for 2020-21 will be $161bn, compared with the $213.7bn forecast in the 6 October budget.

OK, with that, why don’t we jump into this massive day of news.

If there is something you reckon I’ve missed or think should be in the blog but isn’t, shoot me a message on Twitter @MatildaBoseley or email me at matilda.boseley@theguardian.com.


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