The Abbott government will impose a $7 charge for GP visits, provide lower pension rises and hike income tax for people earning over $180,000 in a bid to get the budget back into the black.
Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget sets a course to slash by half Labor’s $123 billion deficit over the next four years.
The budget forecasts a deficit of $29.8 billion for 2014/15, trimmed back to a $17.1 billion deficit the following year.
“My view is you fix the roof while the sun is shining and if we do not contribute now then the pain associated with budget repair is going to be far greater in the future,” Mr Hockey said.
Federal funding for schools and hospitals will be slashed by $80 billion over the decade, as agreements with the states and territories – including Gonski – are wound down.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the budget had broken the coalition’s election promises that there would be no new taxes or tax rises, no cuts to education or health and no changes to pensions.
“It is a budget built on Tony Abbott’s act of mass deceit,” Mr Bowen said.
Mr Hockey said the coalition had reduced taxes compared to what they would have been under Labor.
From July 1 next year previously bulk-billed patients – including children and pensioners – will pay $7 per visit including out-of-hospital X-rays and pathology.
But $5 from the charge, as well as a lift in the price of medicines, will go towards a new $20 billion medical research fund.
Mr Hockey said patients should make a modest contribution towards their cost.
To drive jobs, the government will add $11.6 billion in funding for roads, funded partly by the reintroduction of six-monthly petrol tax hikes from August 1 and $5 billion from state asset sales.
About 800,000 businesses will benefit from a 1.5 per cent cut in corporate tax from July next year, but the government will cut $845 million from industry handouts.
Pensioners can expect less in their pockets from September 2017, when rises are indexed to inflation rather than wages.
Mr Hockey said this kept the coalition’s election pledge not to touch pensions this term, but would make them sustainable.
The pension age will gradually lift to 70 by 2035.
Business will get a $10,000 bonus for employing jobless over-50s.
To get spending under control, growth in the foreign aid budget will be cut by $7.9 billion over five years and 16,500 public servants will be shed.
Freezing family assistance rates for two years and limiting Family Tax Benefit part B to families with children under six, as well as other tightening of family payments, will save $6.9 billion over four years.
In a bid to get all young people “earning or learning”, from 2015 unemployed people under 25 will get Youth Allowance, not Newstart, and there will be a six-month waiting period for under-30s to get the dole.
Universities will be able to set their own tuition fees from 2016, but this won’t affect those already in the system and the fees won’t need to be repaid until a student is working and earning over $50,000 a year.
Stopping the boats and closing nine immigration detention centres is set to save $2.5 billion.
Mr Hockey challenged the opposition to support all of the budget measures in parliament.
Mr Bowen said Labor would be “constructive when it comes to the national interest”.
The jobless rate is expected to stay around 6.25 per cent for the next two years, while economic growth is forecast to average 2.5 per cent in 2014/15.