Last week the Federal Government handed down its second budget since being in power, amidst global economic uncertainty, a slowing economy with growth expected to wane to 1.5 per cent in 2024 and rising costs for individuals and businesses alike.
The Government this year had three priorities – cost-of-living relief, growing the economy, and ensuring Australia’s stability against international economic instability. Here WOB partners Grant Thornton, BDO and the Governance Institute share their budget insights - looking at issues from women’s economic security and sustainability to the digital economy.
Grant Thornton’s National Managing Partner for Tax, Sandie Boswell, said she was pleased to see the Government shining a light on some of our most vulnerable groups.
“There were a range of measures announced in this year’s Federal Budget to assist women and families in addition to the work the Government has already begun on closing the gender pay gap and making gender equity a focus of the Fair Work Act, introducing paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave, and putting a new focus on workers in the care industry.
“Labor announced further childcare assistance and up to a 90 per cent increase of the Child Care Subsidy rates, as well as dedicating $72.4m to retain and recruit more early childhood educators. For families, all Parental Leave, including Dad and Partner Pay, will combine into a single 20-week payment with an increased income test rate, and the Single Parenting Payment has been increased and will be available for longer.
“In addition, the Budget extended Jobseeker eligibility around to help women over 55 who are struggling to find employment, which is a rapidly growing group.
“All these measures are designed to help women stay in the workforce and continue their careers, or if they are unable to for various reasons, they are supported. It’s great to see the Government shining a light on some of our most vulnerable groups like single mums and women over 55 to ensure they have a continued quality of life and are valued members of our communities.”
READ: A Balancing Act: Grant Thornton Insights from the Federal Budget
BDO’s Partner and National Leader ESG & Sustainability; IFRS & Corporate Reporting, Aletta Boshoff, said she was pleased to see the significant steps taken in the Budget to support the safety of women and children.
“I believe equality for women is critical for prosperity and it is great to see the Government will publish the gender pay gaps of employers with 100 or more workers from early 2024. But beyond this, the Government has taken significant steps in this Budget to support the safety of women and children by dedicating an additional $589 million to the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children.”
In her article on Sustainability and ESG Perspective on the Federal Budget Aletta also outlines three key measures which contribute to significant risks and opportunities as identified by business leaders across the globe.
“We are pleased to see environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters feature heavily throughout this year’s Federal Budget,” she writes.
“While easing the cost of living pressures certainly headlined the papers, it didn’t take much scratching of the surface to uncover several key initiatives to support economic growth, diversity and inclusion, reskilling, decarbonisation and many more areas of concern for the sustainability sector.”
BDO also warns businesses – large and small, domestic and multinational - can expect many more visits from the ATO “as the emphasis is clearly on a compliance push”.
“The benefits to small businesses are relatively immaterial or outweighed by an additional administrative burden, particularly the changes to the instant asset write off scheme and superannuation payment frequency adjustments. For large corporates, certainty has been provided around the 1 January 2024 start date for a 15% minimum tax rate and proposed amendments to the general anti-avoidance rules in Part IVA will pack more of a punch,” it writes.
READ: BDO Federal Budget 2023 Report
Meanwhile, the Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto welcomed increased funding to deal with privacy, saying that building trust among Australians in the digital economy should be a key priority of the new Privacy Commissioner.
‘It is clear that Australia’s privacy regulatory framework is out of date and urgently requires reform. Building commercial and consumer trust is necessary for our successful participation in the global economy.’
The Institute also welcomed funding of $8 million for the establishment an Anti-Slavery Commissioner to support compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2018 and to improve transparency in supply chains.
‘We advocated for an appropriately resourced independent commissioner to provide the necessarily leadership in the ongoing development of the regime. We hope that the Commissioner will provide guidance and work with business to improve due diligence practices.’
READ: Governance Institute’s ‘Your Governance and Risk Guide to the 2023 Federal Budget