$14bn worth of budget measures in doubt

budget

Image: AFP/Saeed Khan/Getty Images

Around $14 billion worth of Federal Budget measures could see a Senate blockade, according to analysis by The Australian.

Five of the proposed measures are currently under question. These include the 2.5 per cent Medicare levy, random drug testing of welfare recipients, changes to university fees and HECS repayments, changes to school funding, and the superannuation scheme for first home buyers.

According to The Australian’s analysis, the only measures which appear safe are the levy on the big five banks, changes to the 457 visa and increasing the cost of roll-your-own tobacco products.

It appears that the biggest challenge will be getting through the changes to university fees and HECS repayments. The measure, which is expected to be a major saver, involves imposing a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend on universities (which will result in higher fees for students), and lowering the repayment threshold for students’ HECS debt to an income of $42,000. The latter would improve the budget bottom line by $3.7 billion over four years.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has emphasised the importance of support from the Senate. According to the Treasurer, Australia’s AAA credit rating is at risk of being downgraded in the next two years if economic measures do not meet Treasury forecasts.