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Jim Chalmers hands down a budget for Anthony Albanese’s battlers

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (9.5.23) about the Albanese government’s federal budget for 2023-24, with Treasurer Jim Chalmers aiming to relieve cost-of-living pressures on struggling households.

‘A big incentive for doctors to bulk bill, a modest $40 a fortnight rise in JobSeeker and extra rent assistance are highlights of a Labor budget that juggles targeted cost-of-living relief with containing inflation.

‘The government will triple the incentive paid to GPs to bulk bill for families with children under 16, pensioners and Commonwealth concession card holders.

‘The government says this will cover 11.6 million Australians and cost $3.5 billion over the forward estimates. It is part of an injection of $5.7 billion into the problem-ridden Medicare system.

‘The budget is aimed firmly at the most vulnerable and has a significant focus on women. However, those on middle incomes receive little – although families with children can benefit from the extra bulk billing.

‘The government has bowed to pressure for an across-the-board rise in JobSeeker. But the $40 a fortnight increase falls far short of the fortnightly $256 recommended by its Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.

‘… Chalmers said the budget’s suite of measures to ease pressure on households would take 0.75 of a percentage point off inflation in 2023-24.’

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