Federal Budget Opposition response


The Federal Government sought to maintain the momentum of Australia’s economic recovery with this year’s Federal Budget as the Treasurer announced $70b in new spending and tax breaks on Tuesday 11 May 2021 with a focus on job creation and infrastructure spending.

On Thursday 13 May 2021, the Opposition Leader delivered the traditional Opposition Budget-in-Reply address, pledging to establish a social housing fund to address housing affordability issues. 

However, rather than going toe to toe with the Federal Government to see who can spend the most, the Opposition Leader played it safe by not announcing any major new policies other than the establishment of a housing affordability fund, a proposal to create more apprentices and assistance for students looking to start-up a business. 

In his Budget-in-Reply address, the Opposition Leader responded to the Federal Budget by pledging, if elected:


  • That tens of thousands of social and affordable housing properties would be built as part of a $10b housing future fund. 
  • 4,000 homes would be allocated to women and children who are escaping family and domestic violence and to older women who are at risk of homelessness.
  • 10,000 affordable homes allocated to frontline workers such as nurses, police, and cleaners.
  • Remote indigenous communities would benefit from the repair and maintenance of homes funded through returns made on the housing future fund. 
  • Money would be put towards crisis accommodation for women and children and specialist services for veterans who are experiencing homelessness. 

Promised to provide cash payments to 10,000 apprentices working in “new energy” NEW ENERGY

The Opposition Leader also promised to provide cash payments to 10,000 apprentices working in “new energy” areas such as rooftop solar, energy efficiency upgrades and green hydrogen. 

Apprentices would receive $2,000 when they start, followed by $2,000 a year for up to four years as they train in their chosen trade, with payments being capped at $10,000 in total.

Note that this announcement is similar to a pledge that was made by the Opposition shortly before the last election to support apprentices in renewable energy industries. 


In another policy (which also appears to have been borrowed from a similar Opposition policy in 2015), the Opposition leader announced a “Startup Year” scheme to give final year students a year of mentoring by universities and private sector incubators that will encourage 2,000 final year school students and recent graduates to start their own companies. The idea being that students will be able to get mentoring on commercialisation, financing and business management to enable innovations to be taken to market.   

The start-up assistance would be provided in the form of a loan (with costs up to $11,300 covered) that would be administered under the current Higher Education Loan Program (that assists students with their university tuition fees). 

crisis_manag_ement_and_business_continuity_planning2_1.pngFinal remarks

With the tag line of the Opposition Leader’s address being we are “on your side”, the lack of any major policy announcements would suggest the Opposition Leader was wary to not put voters offside with any major announcements until closer to the election.  However, the address did highlight areas the Opposition will likely focus on in the countdown to the next election, such as the protection of workers, as the Opposition Leader used his Budget-in-Reply address to announce the Opposition, if elected, would make wage theft a criminal offence and would change the law to place a positive duty on employers to eliminate sex discrimination.    

Interestingly, the Opposition Leader made no mention of whether the Opposition, if elected, would wind back or delay the Stage 3 tax cuts (slated for July 2024) that would benefit middle and high income earners.   

Under the Stage 3 tax cuts, the 32.5% and 37% tax brackets are removed and replaced with a larger 30% tax bracket for anyone earning $45,000 to $200,000.  This is an area the Federal Government is likely to highlight if the Opposition remains tight-lipped on their position in respect of these tax cuts. 


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