ANU EXPERTS: 2018/19 Federal Budget

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 — Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison has unveiled the third Turnbull Government budget.
The Australian National University (ANU) has experts available to speak about the budget and its implications for Australia.
They can be contacted directly, or through the media hotline on 02 6125 7979.
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ECONOMICS/TAX

Professor Robert Breunig
Director, ANU Tax and Transfer Policy Institute
ANU Crawford School of Public Policy
T: 02 6125 2148
E: robert.breunig@anu.edu.au
Expertise: Tax, labour economics, welfare

“We should welcome the move to give money back to taxpayers who have seen income tax increase as a percentage of their income over the past few years.

“The proposed changes should not be called ‘reform’ and do not represent reform. The new tax offset adds complexity to an overly complex system.

“Nothing has been done to address the problems with GST or the complexity of the system or to reduce the number of taxes.

“Nothing has been done to address the many expensive exemptions and exceptions in the system which are actually a bigger threat to fairness than the marginal rate structure.”


Professor Miranda Stewart 
Fellow, ANU Tax and Transfer Policy Institute
ANU Crawford School of Public Policy
T: 02 6125 5713
M: 0423 175 883  
E: miranda.stewart@anu.edu.au
Expertise: Tax law, tax policy, budget law

"The tax cuts, if fully implemented, bring our income tax system very close to the flattened rate structure that was proposed by the Henry Tax Review 10 years ago. But there is a big difference. This is a tax cut package without tax reform. 

“The Henry Review recommended rate cuts as part of a tax reform package that would have broadened the base to tax capital incomes more fairly and evenly, simplified the income tax by removing offsets and limiting deductions, taxed resources and land more substantially including supporting state tax reform, and enacted carbon and environmental tax measures. 

“The GST is nowhere to be seen, although it was supposedly urgent in the Re:Think white paper that the Government abandoned in 2015. The Treasurer has put the states in a straitjacket with the arbitrary tax to GDP cap, which includes the GST. But doesn't the Government keep saying the GST is a state tax? 

“We are unlikely to see any proposals to broaden the base or the rate of GST to fund public services in future - the tax cuts to compensate have already been announced and there is no willingness to raise transfers or pensions for those on low incomes who are the big losers from this budget."


POLITICS

Dr Jill Sheppard
Australian Centre for Applied Social Research Methods
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: (02) 6125 7898
M: 0407 052 927
E: jill.sheppard@anu.edu.au
Expertise: Australian federal politics

“The top line ‘winners and losers’ from this budget are all favourable for the Government: if you pay tax or have a superannuation account, the news looks good.
 
“But undermining this narrative is the fact that Australians don’t really trust politicians, and increasingly don’t believe that Government policies have any effect on the economy generally. 

“The days of ‘budget bounces’ and even pre-election budgets that create political capital for a Government are behind us.”


SCIENCE AND SPACE

Professor Anna Moore
Member of the Government’s Expert Reference Group
Director, Advanced Instrumental Technology Centre (AITC) 
T: 02 6125 4724
M: 0409 777 776
E: anna.moore@anu.edu.au 

“I’m delighted to see a $300M investment included in this year’s budget for the formation of the Australian Space Agency, associated ground based infrastructure for hyper precision positioning for all Australians, and state of the art satellite imagery. 

“As a member of the space expert reference group I understand the potential of Australia to participate in the global space market, and this investment is a firm commitment to enabling this vision. 

“ANU has a long history of working in the space field with national and international partners and hosts the nation’s most advanced space test facilities at Mount Stromlo. The University will continue to co-invest in high profile projects of national significance with its partners and will support the mission of the agency as it grows into the future.”


HEALTH

Professor Simon Foote
Director
ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research
T: 02 6125 2589
E: simon.foote@anu.edu.au
Expertise: Medical & health science, clinical health, medical research, science, biology

“The Genomics Health Futures Mission is welcome as it will help Australia assimilate a new paradigm in medical therapies, that of ‘Precision Medicine’. 

“This new approach to diagnosis and therapy relies on using genomic sequence to aid diagnosis. The difficulty in translation is the complexity of sifting through the three billion bases of our genome to identify genes contributing to the medical condition under discussion. The latter issue is a very complex informatics problem. 

“This initiative outlined in the budget will allow the building of a seamless integration of DNA sequence, informatics analysis and presentation of diagnoses and therapy to clinicians.”


Dr Gaétan Burgio
Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease
ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research.
T: 02 612 59428
E: gaetan.burgio@anu.edu.au
Expertise: Health, medical research, science

“The budget 2018 delivers a good outcome for science and technology in Australia. It outlines long-term commitment from the Federal Government to invest in specific programs for science and technology and research infrastructure. It includes $1.9 billion for the next 12 years to the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) including supercomputing infrastructures in Australia, critical to Australian scientists. Other measures includes $260 million in satellite positioning or investment into research on machine learning and artificial intelligence, or incentives to encourage women to pursue a career in STEM.

“Importantly, the budget 2018-19 outlines a strong commitment from the Government to medical research by allocating $1.3 billion to the National Health and Growth Industry Plan. This plan includes $700 million for the Medical Research Future Fund to fund specific programs such as $500 million on clinical genomics or $125 million 10 year plan on mental health and provides research and development tax incentives to conduct clinical trials in Australia.

“However, no additional investment from the Government was outlined in the budget document for funding and research agencies such as the ARC, the NHMRC or the CSIRO, key for the development of new ideas translational in the long-term to beneficial outcomes for Australia  

“Overall, in line with previous budgets, the Government’s investment in science and technology or medical research provides a strong signal towards translational outcomes and research infrastructures. It will benefit the Australian scientific community by encouraging collaborations and enabling Australia to be internationally competitive, but once again fails to further support blue-sky research, critical to fuel long-term research programs and innovation. Overall, this budget’s commitment towards science and technology will highly benefit the Australian community and advance our society.”


DEFENCE/FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Dr Jacinta Carroll
Director, National Security Policy 
ANU National Security College
T: 02 6125 5531
E: jacinta.carroll@anu.edu.au 
Expertise: Defence policy, national security

“The additional funding announcements for some of Australia's intelligence agencies - notably in ASIO and ASIS - is a sensible move in the right direction, and follows recommendations from 2017's Independent Intelligence Review calling for renewed investment in this important capability. 

“Many commentators and analysts had called for the Government to exempt these agencies from the efficiency dividends that had seen reduction in some capabilities. The agencies have all undertaken programs of efficiency reviews and have rebalanced and refocussed their work efforts, but had warned that they could not appropriately address the very real threats to Australia's interests including foreign interference, espionage and terrorism, without additional and sustained resourcing.

“The announcement of a review of the Home Affairs portfolio demonstrates a commitment to guiding and checking the development of this new central agency. 

“The review should focus on how the new agency and its portfolio will work with the new Office of National Assessments, which will be stood up on 1 July 2018, and how probity and oversight arrangements will work in relation to the various investigative powers in Home Affairs. The announcement of a substantial review program for Home Affairs should satisfy some of the public concerns expressed with the announcement of the Home Affairs agency last year.”


ENERGY/CLIMATE CHANGE

Dr Paul Burke

Arndt-Corden Department of Economics
ANU Crawford School of Public Policy
E: paul.j.burke@anu.edu.au
T: 02 6125 6566
M: 0421 083 933
Expertise: Environmental economics

“If the Government were really concerned about climate change, this is not the budget they would go for.

“Australia’s former carbon price arrangement was helping to both reduce emissions and boost the budget bottom line. Without it, fiscal policy settings are not well aligned towards addressing the climate challenge. This budget also saw a reduction in spending on emissions-reduction initiatives.”


SOCIAL POLICY 

Dr Liz Allen
Demographer
ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods
T: 0401 358 091
E: liz.allen@anu.edu.au
Expertise: demography/population studies, social trends

“Bumper (baby)Boomer Budget 2018! The destiny of demography, and its fierce political influence, has been proven by this year’s budget. 

“Health, education, and essential services have been targeted by the Government in a move to appease Australian voters concerned about living conditions. Local middle Australians appear winners, in favour over migrants. But this Boomer Budget isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – some gains, at the cost of Australia’s socioeconomic future.”


For media assistance call the ANU media hotline 02 6125 7979.