Residents of Anthony Albanese’s Sydney electorate will receive the least support in the country from his budget’s welfare measures, while the largest benefits will flow to areas represented by Coalition MPs.
A special breakdown of all the welfare measures unveiled in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ May budget shows residents in many regional areas and those on the edges of major capital cities will get the largest helping hand to deal with spiralling power bills and overall inflation.
But these people will get the least out of next year’s stage three tax cuts, whose benefits will flow to the wealthiest parts of the country.
The centrepiece of the budget was a $3.6 billion power relief package, which is expected to slice about 0.75 percentage points from overall inflation.
But it also contained a string of other measures aimed primarily at those on welfare or low incomes. They included a $20-a-week increase in JobSeeker, an overhaul of the parenting payment for single parents and a 15 per cent lift in Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
Analysis by economist Associate Professor Ben Phillips, from the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods, looked at where all that assistance would end up.
The single largest average household boost from the combined welfare changes is in Fairfield, which straddles the Labor held seat of McMahon and the independent held seat of Fowler in western Sydney. In the area, the average household boost from the reforms will be $703 a year.
Other Labor communities with high payments include the Sunshine and St Albans suburbs of Melbourne, in the electorate of Fraser ($550), and the Broadmeadows-Craigieburn areas of Calwell ($530).
But of the top 10 communities to receive assistance, seven are in seats held by either the Liberal National Party, the Nationals or the Liberal Party.
They include the seat of Farrer in the far south-west of NSW ($545) – held by Liberal deputy leader Sussan Ley – and the LNP-held seats of Wide Bay ($543), Leichhardt ($526) and Flynn ($565) in Queensland, plus the Nationals-held seat of Mallee in Victoria’s far north-west ($524).
As a share of income, the two biggest winners are people on income support in the Burnett and Maryborough areas of Queensland at 0.8 per cent. Both are in LNP-held seats.
Just outside the top 10 is the Inverell-Tenterfield area ($522) in the northern NSW seat held by former Nationals’ leader Barnaby Joyce.
The least amount of welfare assistance will flow to the inner-west Sydney suburbs of Marrickville, Sydenham and Petersham, which all sit in Albanese’s electorate of Grayndler. The average household boost there is estimated at less than $4.
Some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country will also receive very little from the welfare reforms.
Two communities – the west Pilbara and the Kimberley – in the vast West Australian seat of Durack will receive, on average, $14 and $8 respectively. The seat is held by the Liberal Party.
The Labor-held seat of Lingiari, which covers almost all the Northern Territory, has three communities in the bottom 10.
Sydney’s eastern suburbs in the Wentworth seat held by independent Allegra Spender; the Melbourne CBD, which is represented by Greens leader Adam Bandt; and the Sydney CBD, held by Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, are also in the bottom 10 seats for welfare assistance.
Phillips said while the welfare changes were modest in aggregate, they were worth just under $500 a year to households in the bottom 40 per cent of income distribution.
He said the largest gains would go to those receiving the JobSeeker payment, while 1.3 million households would get some relief via the increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
“The increase in JobSeeker is a welcome increase following a slightly larger increase of $50 per fortnight under the Morrison government,” he said.
“While welcome, the JobSeeker payment is still around 30 per cent lower than the age pension and should be lifted further.”
The increase in JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Austudy, estimated to cost $4.9 billion over five years, is due to start from September 20.
Nine months after that, the stage three tax cuts – now expected to cost more than $310 billion over a decade – are due to start.
The 37 per cent marginal tax bracket will be abolished, the 32.5 per cent rate will be reduced to 30 per cent, and the threshold for the 45 per cent rate will be increased to $200,000.
All workers earning more than $45,000 will get some benefit from the cuts that were first legislated in 2019.
But Phillips’ analysis confirms voters in some of the nation’s wealthiest areas will enjoy substantial boosts to their income.
The biggest winners will be Manly residents in the seat of Warringah on Sydney’s northern beaches – held by independent Zali Steggall – with an average household tax cut worth $4765 a year. The second-largest gain will be in the Ku-ring-gai area, on Sydney’s upper north shore in the Liberal-held seat of Bradfield, at $4544.
The third-largest increase will be in the Marrickville and Balmain areas of Sydney that sit in Albanese’s electorate. The gain there is estimated at $4372.
Albanese’s seat is the only Labor-held electorate in the top 10 by income gain from the tax cuts. All the others are either held by teal independents, such as Goldstein ($3717) and Kooyong ($4472) in Melbourne, or the Liberal Party.
The smallest gains, however, will also flow largely to LNP, Liberal or Nationals-held seats. The smallest increase due to the tax cuts will be in the area around the Queensland regional centre of Maryborough, in the LNP-held electorate of Wide Bay, at just $442 per household.
Other Coalition-held seats to make incremental gains from the tax cuts include Cowper in NSW ($505), Grey in South Australia ($508) and Joyce’s seat of New England ($528).
The smallest gain in a Labor-held seat is in the Playford area of Spence, the electorate that covers the northern parts of Adelaide, at $615 per household.
The story has been updated to say the seat of Fowler is held by independent MP Dai Le. An earlier version said the story was held by Labor.
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