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Australian Budget 2024 – Winners, Losers & The Left Right Out

Australian Budget 2024 - Ally Wealth Management - Australian Expat Financial Planner

On Tuesday, 14th May, Treasurer Dr. Jim Chalmers unveiled his third Federal Budget, presenting a mix of financial highs and lows for Australians. Here’s a detailed look at the key takeaways and what they mean for different groups, as well as investors and financial markets overall.

Headlines

  • Surplus Achieved: The Budget delivered a surprising surplus of $9.3 billion, a stark contrast to the initially forecasted $1.1 billion deficit. However, a $28.8 billion deficit looms for next year, which comes as little surprise with an upcoming election.
  • Economic Growth: The economy is projected to grow by 2% in 2024/25 and 2.3% in 2025/26.
  • Key Assumptions: The Government expects that net immigration will be 395,000 this financial year, and will reduce to 260,000 by 2024-25. Further, they expect iron ore prices to sit at US$60/tonne, which are currently above US$100, which may improve the deficit position going forward.

The Winners

Lower Income Renters:
A 10% increase in rent assistance offers much-needed relief. To put this into perspective, the average rent for this group is $590 per fortnight, with an average rental support payment of $158. This boost will help alleviate some financial pressure for those struggling with rising rents.

Solar Panel Manufacturers:
The government is investing $1.5 billion in subsidies to enhance solar panel manufacturing capabilities. This is a significant step towards a greener future, supporting both the environment and the industry.

Hydrogen Production:
From 2027-28, a new tax incentive will pay $2 per kilogram for locally produced hydrogen. This move aims to position Australia as a leader in renewable energy, fostering innovation and sustainability.

Parents:
Starting July 2025, superannuation will be paid during paid parental leave. This change predominantly benefits women, and is aimed at addressing the superannuation gender gap and ensuring a more secure financial future for families.

Small Businesses:
Small businesses will receive a $325 rebate on electricity costs and can take advantage of an instant asset write-off up to $20,000 for assets installed and used by June 2025. These measures are designed to support small businesses in managing expenses and investing in growth.

Pensioners and PBS Medicine Users:
The government has announced a freeze on PBS costs for a year, with a five-year freeze on co-payments for pensioners and concession card holders. This initiative will help manage healthcare costs for some of the most vulnerable populations.

Student Debt Holders:
The indexation on student debt will be reduced to the lower of CPI or wage inflation, providing an average saving of $1,200. This relief is a welcome change for those burdened by student loans. The 2023 indexation rate was 7.1%, which will be reduced, and the rate announced for 2024 of 4.7%, will also be reduced to 4%, which will be welcome news for those with student loans.

Tax Payers:
Stage 3 tax cuts will proceed as planned, with those earning $200,000 or more set to receive a $4,529 cut. This will provide significant financial relief for higher-income earners.

Savers:
With the Budget unlikely to cause a decline in inflation in the short term, those with term deposits and cash in the bank can expect higher interest rates to persist, benefiting savers. This could be a good opportunity to review your cash and money market investments to ensure you’re positioned appropriately.

Social Housing Recipients:
A $432.1 million investment has been announced for social housing and homelessness services, pending state and territory approval. This funding aims to address the critical need for affordable housing.

Households:
Australian households will receive a $300 rebate through the Energy Bill Relief Fund, offering some respite from rising energy costs.

The Losers

First Homebuyers:
Unfortunately, the Budget does not include major changes to housing or gearing policies that could impact the market. First homebuyers will continue to face challenges in entering the housing market. The plans to boost housing supply are expected to have little impact over the short-term, with the impact expected to be felt in approximately a decade. This plan seems akin to mopping the floor while the tap is still running, however this will come as welcome news to property investors.

Higher Income Renters:
There is no increase in rental allowance for higher-income renters, and no indications of easing house prices. This group will see little to no relief from current housing market pressures.

Scammers:
The government is allocating $67.5 million to combat online fraud and scams, aiming to protect Australians from digital threats.

International Students:
Caps on international student placements at universities will be tied to the universities’ ability to build additional housing. This measure is intended to alleviate the strain on the housing market.

Australian Expats:
Those hoping for a weaker Australian dollar will be disappointed, as the Budget suggests no immediate cash rate cuts from the RBA. This may mean that other developed countries are cutting their cash rates faster and more aggressively than Australia, which could see the Australian dollar strengthen.

Mortgage Holders:
With no sign of rate cuts in the short term, mortgage holders will not see any immediate relief in their repayments.

Left Right Out

Financial Advice Tax Deductibility:
No improvements were made to the tax deductibility of financial advice. This is certainly an area that we, like many others, were disappointed to find, as improving the tax deductibility would have likely had a material benefit to the wider community.

Australian Expats:
There were no updates on tax residency for Australian expats. It’s important for Australian expats to ensure they’re seeking professional advice and not blurring the lines when it comes to their tax residency.

First Home Buyers:
No new measures were introduced to ease the burden of saving for house deposits.

Market Impact

Here’s a breakdown of what the Budget means for cash and term deposits, bonds, shares, and property.

Cash and Term Deposits

The returns on cash and bank deposits have seen a substantial improvement due to recent rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The Budget itself is unlikely to change this trajectory significantly. Savers can expect continued benefits from higher interest rates in the short term, maintaining attractive returns on their cash and term deposits.

Bonds

The announcement of another budget surplus might generally ease the pressure on bond yields. However, this positive impact is somewhat offset by projections of higher medium-term deficits. Consequently, the net effect on bonds is relatively neutral, with no significant changes expected in bond yield dynamics due to the Budget.

Shares

The Budget’s influence on the share market is a mixed bag. Increased spending is a positive signal for retail shares, potentially boosting consumer-facing businesses. On the flip side, higher-than-expected interest rates could temper these gains. Manufacturers might find some benefits from the Future Made in Australia (FMIA) initiatives, particularly those in renewable energy sectors like solar panel production and hydrogen. Overall, the Budget’s impact on shares appears neutral, balancing the positives with the potential negatives.

Property

Housing measures in the Budget are unlikely to significantly alter the outlook for home prices, which continue to be influenced by supply shortages and high interest rates. The current environment suggests modest home price growth for the year. The Budget’s provisions, while supportive, are not sufficient to shift the broader market trends driven by these dominant factors.

Final Thoughts

The 2024 Budget is a mixed bag, offering significant benefits to some while leaving others out in the cold. As always, the impacts will vary depending on individual circumstances. Stay tuned as these changes unfold and continue to shape Australia’s economic landscape.

Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.

Book your complimentary appointment with our team at Ally Wealth Management to discuss how we can help you to achieve your financial goals.

Ally Wealth Management Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Sentry Advice Pty Ltd ABN 77 103 642 888. Sentry Advice holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 227 748.

General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.

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