‘Australia’s most expensive missed opportunity’

The Federal Budget will be remembered as "Australia's most expensive missed opportunity", Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers will say today.

The budget had been spruiked as "one of the most important since World War II" as the nation deals with the fallout of COVID-19.

Mr Chalmers will tell the National Press Club today, in his first major address since the budget was handed down, that what was needed was to "convert this crisis into a turning point for Australia".

Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers says the budget was an expensive missed opportunity. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images
Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers says the budget was an expensive missed opportunity. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

"The big numbers couldn't disguise a Budget of such small ambitions," he will say.

"The country needed a plan to respond to the recession, kickstart the recovery and redefine the future, instead we got a grab bag of limited opportunities and lowered horizons.

"The budget will be remembered only as Australia's most expensive missed opportunity."

He will say a Labor government would seek to "tackle insecure work and chronic underemployment".

"This approach doesn't have to mean more debt, it means debt that's better deployed to kickstart the recovery and create more jobs," he will say.

Mr Chalmers will refer to recent roadtrips he has made to regional parts of Queensland, describing Cairns as "possibly the place outside of Melbourne most impacted … by premature cuts to JobKeeper payments".

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday said as well as JobKeeper, which runs out in March, there was the JobMaker hiring credits of up to $200 a week for employers who hire young people aged 35 or under, as well as the existing Restart program for workers aged over 50.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the government want to see more young people get into work. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Troy Snook
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the government want to see more young people get into work. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Troy Snook

"We want to see young people get into work. They've been hit hard by this crisis. We want to see people of all ages get into work," he said.

"That's why … the Morrison Government have strongly supported tax cuts to put more money into people's pockets and create 50,000 new jobs."

He said they had also brought forward billions of dollars in infrastructure spending and funded new projects like the second M1, also known as the Coomera connector.


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