The Big Budget Changes You Missed

Far as I can tell, we’re the only country that goes a little ‘Hollywood’ for the Budget. Other nations just read theirs out on a Tuesday afternoon in parliament, and no one gives a toss. Not us. We lock all the journalists up, and give the Treasurer the prime-time razzle-dazzle.

And last week’s Budget was a little … Family Feud. A bit, er, boring.

So what did we learn?

My first takeout is that Australia is the Jay-Z of the world economy … we’re swimming in cash. That’s largely because there’s been an uptick in the global economy, which is boosting the price of our resources. It’s also because unemployment is low. Oh, and also because we’re running a fairly aggressive immigration policy.

This pile of cash is what’s funding the centrepiece of the Budget ‒ a $10-a-week tax cut for low- and middle-income earners. It’s also what ScoMo hopes will fund what is effectively a ‘flat tax’, where 94% of the population pays 32.5% or less.*

*In seven years’ time.

Look, in seven years’ time I plan on living on a Tuscan vineyard so I can drink vino and wear slacks without socks … but I’ll have three kids in primary school by then, so the closest I’ll get to bellissimo is my local, La Porchetta.

Bottom line?

I’m not getting my holiday, and you’re not getting your flat tax.

Anyway, while the tax cuts stole the limelight, the real story ‒ which was largely ignored ‒ was the changes to super.

So here are three things that really deserve prime-time attention:

First, if you’ve been shocked by what you’ve seen at the Royal Commission (and you should be), you can now teach these bozos a lesson, switch your super fund, and not get whacked with an exit fee.

(Still, anyone who’s tried to roll over their super knows it’s harder than breaking up with your high school sweetheart. There’s so much back and forth, so many itty-bitty details and forms … it’s almost like they want you to give up and keep your money there!).

Second, a campaign that I’ve been banging on about for years is the rort of compulsory life insurance through super. Young people collectively pay nearly $200 million a year in life insurance they don’t need. The Government will now force super funds to stop automatically charging young people under the age of 25. That’ll add thousands of dollars to young people’s end balances.

Third, the government is finally moving to protect one of the biggest cash cows of the super industry: the 6 million inactive (read: forgotten) accounts that super funds feast on. The Government has put a fee cap on these low-balance funds and is making it easier to consolidate them.

All in all, it was a terrible night for the super fund lobbyists, which means it was a great night for you and me. In fact, I think the super changes will potentially have a bigger long-term impact than the short-term tax cuts. Just don’t expect to read too much about it. After all, super isn’t very Hollywood, is it?

Tread Your Own Path!