This year’s budget may have seen welcome spending for aged care, the National Audit Office and childcare but there are some key areas, which were worst hit by the pandemic and largely affect young people, that have missed out.
Universities and international students
Despite Universities Australia conservatively estimating a $2bn loss this year following a $1.8bn revenue loss in 2020, the Coalition’s budget ceased the $1bn put towards emergency research and doesn’t include any targeted measures or relief to help universities left impacted by border closures, which are not set to open before 2022.
The $42.4 million over seven years for scholarships for women in STEM is needed but as The Saturday Paper put it, “The debt and deficit rhetoric is gone but the Coalition still made sure to target its ideological enemies”.
Climate, energy, and environment
Recycling is clearly a huge focus for the government in this year’s budget. Investments in regional hydrogen hubs, carbon capture technology, feedstock additives and ocean protection are welcomed. But compared to our partners and allies, it’s not impressive and there isn’t anything allocated to electric vehicles, transitioning our grid to renewables or transmission line upgrades (to name a few).
If we want to avoid the worst effects of global warming, a decade of action is critical.
The Morrison government has repeatedly failed to address and act on this urgency and this budget is no exception.
The $278 million on 10 new Headspace is also an encouraging commitment, but much of this funding goes to counselling services and not psychiatric services, clinical psychology, or structural reform which many experts in the sector have been demanding since long before the pandemic.
With a mountain of debt and deficit ahead and no surplus in sight, this alone is enough to count future generations as losers in the 2021 budget.
In a time riddled with uncertainty, young people needed reassurance. Instead, we were handed a budget that failed to provide clarity and focused more on wooing voters, not securing our future.