Budget 2018: Infrastructure Boost, Tax Cuts And A Space Agency

Anticipation is building ahead of Scott Morrison's third federal budget.

What you need to know
  • Infrastructure expected to be a main focus, with $24 billion being allocated in this Budget alone
  • Tax cuts are expected for people who earn under $87,000
  • Beer, tobacco and a space agency are also important issues

Treasurer Scott Morrison is expected to hand down an election-friendly budget on Tuesday night absent any surprises in the form of major cuts.

While we can never really be sure until the Treasurer delivers his speech Tuesday at 7.30pm, we are able to make predictions from government announcements.  Here is what we know so far.

Infrastructure

An extra $24 billion will be allocated to infrastructure in this budget alone. The cash is set to be used on projects around the country to ease congestion and reduce travel times.

"It is about easing congestion and making our cities more livable," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Monday. 

ScoMo's third budget will be handed down on Tuesday. Image: Getty Images

$400 million will be invested into the Port Botany rail line and the passing loop at Cabramatta in Sydney and $5 billion will be invested to help construct the rail link between Melbourne's Tullamarine airport and the city.

The budget will also include a $3.2 billion infrastructure package for Western Australia. This money will be allocated to road projects, hospitals, and water projects, and $1.05 billion will be allocated to the state's Metronet system.

Queensland is also expected to receive a package that will allocate $800 million to a Sunshine Coast railway upgrade and $1 billion to an upgrade of the M1 motorway.

"Whether it's the Tullamarine freeway in Victoria, whether it is the big investments in the Bruce Highway in Queensland, whether it is building the western Sydney Airport and the north south rail link here in New  South Wales, right across the country we're spending $75 billion on infrastructure over the next decade," Turnbull said. 

The government is also set to commit funds to interstate rail.

"We are investing $9 billion in the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail. It's not just freight rail we are concerned about or interested in, certainly in improving congestion, it is also passenger rail," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said. 

Tax Cuts

Tax cuts are one of the cornerstones in this years' budget. Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed on Sunday that low-to-mid income earners, or people who earn under $87,00 could see tax breaks as early as July this year.

Morrison warned however, that these cuts will not be "mammoth" but will be "within what the budget can afford".

The Coalition will also keep the proposed large company cuts despite lack of support by the parliament.

The government confirmed on Friday that all beer kegs larger than eight litres will be taxed at the same rate, where in the past larger brewers have enjoyed better tax treatments than their craft counterparts. Morrison didn't guarantee the cost of the kegs, but said the move would see smaller businesses grow.

Surplus

The government has announced that it is on-track to deliver a budget surplus in 2020/21.  If this is achieved, it would be the first surplus since the Global Financial Crisis.

While there has been some talk of the budget being returned to surplus a year early, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann remained tight-lipped about the details.

Cormann said the budget would return to surplus but said “the specific trajectory will be ­revealed in the budget”.

At-Home Aged Care

There will be a push to reduce the pressure on aged-care facilities and hospitals by funding at-home aged care for older Australians.

60,000 people who have been waiting for support but haven't received it will be the priority of the funding in the area. There will also be a greater focus better on educating workers in the sector.

Health

Suicide prevention service Lifeline will get a $33 million boost in the budget as a way to ensure more calls are answered and staff training is supported. This follows Health Minister Greg Hunt's comments that this budget will have a focus on mental health.

Lifesaving drug Spinraza, used to treat Spinal Muscular Atrophy will also be added to the PBS, meaning it will be available for just $40.

Environment

$500 million will go to improving the water quality, managing crown-of-thorns starfish and boosting restoration efforts of the Great Barrier Reef. The government has described this as the single largest conservation investment for the reef in Australia's history.

"We'll be improving the monitoring of the reef's health and the measurement of its impacts," Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said in April.

"The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it."

Tuesday's budget will also include a $50 million commitment to building an Australian space agency. This money will be allocated as 'seed funding' -- a way to offer an investor a stake in a business in exchange for money.  It is understood contributions from the private sector will provide most of the funding required to establish the agency.

The government is yet to announce where the agency will be located.

Repair for the Great Barrier Reef a focus this budget. Image : Getty Images
Tobacco Task Force

A specialised task-force will be set up to manage the illegal sale of tobacco that escapes duty each year. $3.6 billion will be dedicated to the force over four years, which will be lead by the Australian Border Force.

The Australian Tax Office will also be given additional powers to charge additional taxes on tobacco when it enters the country and the policy is also expected to include the requirement to obtain a permit to import tobacco.

Gold Coast Film Boost

$140 million will be set aside from 2019-20 as a location incentive to attract film production to the Gold Coast. The proposal will almost double the location offset rate to 30 percent and will be made available from July 1, 2018.